When I sent my daughter off to school each day, I knew how important it was for her to get good grades to get into a university. I was certain that a university degree would improve her and her future children’s lives. I never considered the role of education in world poverty.
The point was driven home when I visited the Dominican Republic. While visiting a village where Food for the Hungry (FH) worked, I noticed children sitting under a tree.
“What are those children up to?” I asked
“That’s our school,” responded the community leader. He pointed to a nearby construction project and said, “FH is helping us build a new school over there.”
We in the developed world are privileged to have schools to which we can send our children. While dducation is free in many of the countries where FH works, there are still costs that force families with limited resources to make difficult choices. Boys often are prioritized over girls to attend school, since girls contribute to household income and care for younger siblings
The Worldwide Picture
- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported in 1999 that one billion people entered the 21st century illiterate.
- The UN’s 2007 Millennium Development Goals Report noted that 72 million children of primary school age in developing countries were not in school in 2005. Of those children, 57 percent were girls.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2010 Education For All Global Monitoring Report stated that two out of every three illiterate adults (age 15 and older) were women.
Those are troubling statistics, especially when you consider that that the UNESCO 2010 Education For All Global Monitoring Report also said that:
- Education reduces poverty and promotes economic growth – In low-income countries, an additional year of education adds about 10% to a person’s income on average
- Maternal education improves children’s nutrition and chances of survival
- Education helps fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases
- Education promotes gender equality
- Education promotes democracy and participation in society.
Interventions That Make a Difference
FH works with parents, schools and children to create effective education systems. We also work with ministries of education as well as school systems. We help communities build schools and work with children on good hygiene practices. We work with schools to distribute deworming medication so intestinal worms don’t hijack up to a quarter of the nutrition children consume, leaving them unable to concentrate.
We also work with parents to help them understand the importance of education. When families can’t afford to pay for school fees or to buy school uniforms, we help pay those fees. Even when parents are themselves illiterate, we encourage them to help their children learn to read and write by sending them to school and allowing them to have reading materials around the home. Home visits and teacher visits are among the most effective ways to get children in school and to keep them there.
To improve education and school performance, FH trains teachers to help them manage large classrooms and create effective curriculum, and we often work with a country’s department of education to ensure that teachers are well prepared to teach in various subjects.
These and other interventions are making a difference. You can help FH give the gift of education at fh.org.