“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
The power of education cannot be underestimated, some even calling it a ‘social vaccine’ – safeguarding youth against HIV and other infections, and reducing violence.
Educational investments benefit not just the student, but his or her family and community. As the level of education increases, so does the chance to get and keep a job, have a healthy life and support a family. Girls with higher levels of education marry later, have reduced incidence of HIV, survive childbirth at higher rates, have fewer and healthier children, and contribute to higher rates of national economic growth.
The right to education is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and every other major international human rights agreement. And while there has been major progress towards achieving the second UN Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015, major gaps remain in equitable access and quality of education. In the emerging market countries where we work, our investments in education aim to resolve the following problems.
200 million adolescents, including those who complete secondary school, do not have the skills they need for life and employment.
At least 250 million primary age school children worldwide are not able to read, write or count well enough to meet minimum learning standards, including girls and boys who have spent at least four years in school.
Sixty-five low and middle income countries lose approximately $92 billion annually by failing to educate girls to the same standard as boys (MacArthur Foundation, Investing in Girls’ Secondary Education in Developing Countries)
Some key facts in emerging market countries:
In Nigeria, 28% (9.2 million) of children age 7-14 are estimated to be out of school (Demographic and health survey, 2008).
In India, 38 million children 7-14 are estimated to be out of school (2006 DHS).
Problem: Around the globe, over 70 million children are not in school.
Solutions EMpower supports:
Inclusive education: To reach the most disadvantaged young people, our efforts seek to reduce and eliminate barriers to entry with practical interventions such as subsidizing school fees or uniforms.
Second chance education: For youth who are out of school, our work supports programs that provide complementary or remedial education. Young people then can be mainstreamed into a school or achieve fundamental skills outside of the school setting.
Problem: The quality of schooling is very uneven.
Often classrooms are overcrowded, teachers are either poorly trained or entirely absent, and the curriculum does not prepare youth for the real world in their settings. Despite their regular attendance at school, many youth lack reading, writing and math skills.
Solutions EMpower supports:
Relevant approaches: To prepare students for real life in their settings, such as rural communities where agriculture is the norm
Strengthening quality: After-school and holiday tutoring or coaching fills in the gaps and supplements inadequate teaching quality
Preparing young people for the future: Giving at-risk young people the fundamental 21st century skills that are critical to fully participate and contribute in our increasingly globalized and technological world, including computer literacy, and international languages such as English
Problem: A gender gap in education remains, with girls facing additional barriers that limit both their access to schooling and the support to remain in school.
- Leveling the playing field: Approaches that reduce practical barriers to girls’ attending school subsidizing school fees, supplies or uniforms, and residences for rural girls
- Educating parents and families: Encouraging local campaigns and other strategies, often involving the girls themselves, to educate parents about the value of keeping daughters in school
- Reducing the threat of violence: Giving a voice to local activism that reduces the threat of violence and increases safety in public spaces so girls can move freely
- Gender-sensitive approaches: Including boys in building an understanding of the effects of gender-bias as essential to making real and lasting changes that empower both young men and young women