Today, the 24th January 2020 is the Second International Day of Education proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to celebrate the role of Education for bringing global Peace and Sustainable Development.
According to UIS data for the school year ending in 2018, about 258 million children and youth aged 6-17 are out of school: about one-sixth of the global population of this age group. 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are not achieving the minimum proficiency in reading and maths, and 750 million adults still remain illiterate, two thirds of which are woman (UNESCO).
Children and youth can be excluded from education for many reasons including poverty, conflict, health issues and emergencies caused by climate change.
Ensuring that these children attend school is a way to create a condition of normality in a secure and protected environment, and most of all it helps them to develop the knowledge and the skills to become empowered and confident adults.
Unpaid household domestic duties, such as collecting firewood and water, are predominantly carried out by women and children in communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, which can impact the amount of time children have for studying. Furthermore, illnesses related to the consumption of unsafe water and household air pollution from traditional stoves can increase school absenteeism. As part of our safe water and improved cookstove projects carried out in over 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, time saved on domestic duties, and project health impacts are monitored annually.
The level of schools and teaching facilities also play a key role in the quality of education. Sub Saharan regions face the biggest challenge in providing schools with basic resources: more than half of the schools do not have access to drinking water, washing facilities, or access to electricity. This means that more than 85% of children in sub-Saharan Africa are not able to achieve a minimum level of education, and girls are most affected by this discrepancy (UNESCO).
CO2balance, with its partners, have invested in several CSR programmes to improve the facilities in 5 schools in rural Uganda.
One of the projects involved two primary schools in Alebtong District; the project included restoring rainwater harvesting systems (RWHS) and providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training, constructing a new pit latrine with changing rooms for female pupils and rehabilitating the borehole in one of the school’s premises. The project has shown an increase in hygiene practices in the schools, an improvement in the privacy and facilities for menstrual management, and a reduction in the time spent collecting water. Pupils benefit from a better learning environment leading to more time in the classroom, improved school performance, reduction of absenteeism, and reduction in the school drop-out rate.
A second programme was carried out in a primary school in Dokolo District. The project provided a school with solar panels and lights. With classrooms now equipped with lights and an off-grid renewable energy source, students now benefit from being able to study in the light for extra hours, which helps with their learning performance. The project also conducted water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) workshops in the school, improving sanitation and hygiene among the students.
A third project was carried out in two primary schools in Kole District: classrooms were provided with solar panels and lights, and WASH trainings were carried out to ensure the school and the pupils have a better and more effective learning environment.
The project also included a second initiative, aiming to reduce the absenteeism and drop-out rate among girls during their menstrual cycle. The female students were provided with training on good hygiene practices, how to use the sanitary towels, and sanitary towels were distributed to girls aged between 13 and 17.
The 2020 International Day of Education will highlight the position of education and learning as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and reaffirm the role of education as a fundamental right and a public good (UNESCO): education helps to break the cycle of poverty, to reach gender equality, empower people to live a better life, and teach tolerance, contributing to more peaceful societies (SDG 4 UN).
Without adequate education, countries around the world will not be able to achieve gender equality and will not be able to escape the state of poverty that grips them.
Education is a Human Right and shouldn’t be a privilege of the few.