Improving Educational Achievement in Developing Nations

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Posted on 11/19/2013


ChildFund works to expand educational opportunities to children living in countries such as India.
ChildFund works to expand educational opportunities to children living in countries such as India.

Children in need and their families who are living in poverty often suffer from a lack of nutritious food, become sick due to lack of available health care and face a range of other challenges. One of the most serious effects of poverty is reduced educational opportunities, and without access to school, many children are unable to break the cycle of generational poverty and lead happy, fulfilling lives. Although much progress has been made in expanding children's access to education in many developing nations during the past decade, recent data suggests that enrollment is not enough. Children need to be able to attend school regularly and have the resources everyone needs to learn, such as textbooks and writing materials.

Enduring Challenges

In 2000, more than 102 million children were not enrolled in primary school. By 2011, this figure had been almost halved to 57 million. Although this number represents significant progress in helping children attend school, there are other problems that the governments of developing countries also face -- namely, improving educational attainment among students who do attend school. At the World Innovation Summit on Education, which took place in Qatar in October, education experts from around the world convened to discuss ways in which developing nations can improve the academic performance of children from low-income families and work toward the United Nations' goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015.

Some countries, such as Sierra Leone, have made substantial progress. However, despite having a primary school enrollment rate of 100 percent across all grade levels, the literacy rate in Sierra Leone remains at around 42 percent, indicating that not all students who attend school are actually learning basic skills they need to succeed. Illiteracy and other academic problems can pose significant barriers to children and youths, keeping them from further study and hampering the careers they can pursue. Limited education also has close correlations to early marriage and parenthood, as well as vulnerability to exploitative and dangerous work.

Stalled Progress

Although there are many more children who are enrolled in primary education today than there were in 2000, more action must be taken to improve access to education for children from low-income families. Of the 57 million children who were not enrolled in school in 2011, almost 30 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. Of these children, around 28 million will likely never attend school, and approximately 13 million will probably drop out before successfully completing their primary education.

In addition, gender inequality remains a serious problem. More than 770 million adults around the world cannot read or write, and two in every three are women. Although literacy rates are improving gradually among girls, the rate at which the gender gap is closing is too slow. Data from the United Nations suggests that there were 95 literate young women for every 100 young men in 2010, compared with 90 women in 1990, but more must be done. ChildFund works to help girls go to school and remain there long enough to have a greater chance of independence as women.

Investing in the Future

Our Gifts of Love & Hope catalog allows you to purchase bicycles for girls in India, Bolivia, The Gambia, Mozambique and several other countries so they can travel to school. A gift of $100 will make a lifetime's difference in the life of a schoolgirl, providing her with a bike that will give her the opportunity to break the cycle of generational poverty.

Alternatively, a gift of $148 will help us provide girls living in Bolivia, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Indonesia, Kenya, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Uganda with scholarships that will cover school fees, uniforms, books, bags and other essentials.

Sponsoring a child is also an excellent way to invest in the life of a child. For just $28 per month, you can help ChildFund provide a boy or girl with the nutritious food, lifesaving health care and valuable educational opportunities he or she needs to achieve a happier and healthier life.