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Project Focus Area – Education and Youth Development

Too many of the world’s children are out of school or receive spotty, sub-par educations. Each one of these children has dreams that may never be fulfilled, potential that may never be realized. By ensuring that every child has access to quality learning, we lay the foundation for growth, transformation, innovation, opportunity and equality.
-UNICEF 2011

Article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has a right to education. UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education affirms that inclusive, quality education is the cornerstone to achieve human, social, and economic development (UNESCO 2008). Education for All (EFA) is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults. However, the alarming rate of illiteracy in most developing countries remains a distinct obstacle.

Education increases opportunities for individuals and has invaluable social and financial benefits for the community. Educated women have more economic prospects, are more engaged in civil society and public life and are more apt to look after the health of their family. All of these benefits are key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Approximately 59 million children, most of them girls, are not in school (over half of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa) (UNICEF Out-of-School Children Initiative 2015). Furthermore, many of them suffer from malnutrition and experience short-term hunger, which seriously affects their ability to learn (UNESCO, 2002). The greatest disparities are found among indigenous peoples and other minority groups. Reaching the most marginalized to ensure that all children have equal opportunities is the greatest challenge in achieving universal primary education. Many essential resources remain scarce in the global south – including infrastructure such as electricity, basic hygiene, and textbooks. FCDE, partnered with local organizations, will address these various issues through capacity building, needs assessments and well-developed infrastructure projects.

The following are some examples of what FCDE partners are facing when striving to educate their children

The Issues Confronting Rural Schools
One of the main challenges of rural school districts is attracting and retaining teachers. Pupil/teacher ratios in many countries are in excess of 40:1. The rural teacher shortage affects all subject areas but particularly math, science, and girls’ education. Long and tiring journeys to reach the school contribute to high rates of teacher absenteeism and reluctance to accept positions in these areas. One of the primary reasons teachers leave rural areas is a feeling of isolation--social, cultural, and professional. In Tanzania, for example, the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) has recorded a declining trend in the number of people pursuing a degree in education and teacher certification over the past three years. The TTU listed lack of conducive working environment, shortage of teachers' houses in rural areas, low pay scale, and a poor teaching environment including student/teacher ratio, lack of water, dilapidated classrooms and a dearth of textbooks/supplies as underlying factors impeding successful teaching and recruitment. FCDE realizes many nations face similar issues and will work with CBOs (community-based organizations) and local schools to support a healthier learning environment for students.

Lack of Electricity
UNESCO reports that initial enrollment rates in the lower grades of primary schools have increased dramatically over the past decade. Conversely, upgrades in school facilities have not kept pace with this growth. In the rural areas, this is reflected not only in understaffed, overcrowded classrooms, but a dearth of latrines. Many students reside in areas with inadequate water supplies, a lack of electricity, and seasonal floods. When they arrive at school, students face a lack of sanitation, poorly equipped classrooms, and teachers who struggle to meet their needs. Findings from a Rockefeller Foundation-funded study in Kenya indicate that poor toilet and sanitation facilities have a disproportionate impact on the attendance rate of girls, particularly adolescent girls. This leads to girls falling behind academically, which, coupled with the competing pressures of assisting their families and early childhood marriages, makes them vulnerable to early school dropout. FCDE will support the awareness-raising efforts of partner organizations and work with interns and volunteers to secure funds for projects geared at improving sanitation facilities at the most vulnerable schools.

Lack of proper sanitation
As the governments throughout the world continue to promote the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015, UNESCO reports that initial enrollment rates in the lower grades of primary schools have increased dramatically over the past decade. Conversely, upgrades in school facilities have not kept pace with this growth. In the rural areas, this is reflected not only in understaffed, overcrowded classrooms, but a dearth of latrines: facilities basic to health and sanitation. Many of the students reside in areas with inadequate water supplies, a lack of electricity, and seasonal floods. When they arrive at school, students face a lack of sanitation, poorly equipped classrooms, and teachers who struggle to meet their needs. Findings from a Rockefeller Foundation-funded study in Kenya indicate that poor toilet and sanitation facilities have a disproportionate impact on the attendance rate of girls, particularly adolescent girls. This leads to girls falling behind academically, which, coupled with the competing pressures of assisting their families and early childhood marriages, makes them vulnerable to early school dropout. FCDE will support the awareness raising efforts of partner organizations and work with interns and volunteers to secure funds for projects geared at improving sanitation facilities at the most vulnerable schools.

If we continue to exclude vast sections of our fellow human beings from the opportunities arising from education, the world will remain not only less just, but also less secure.
-Kofi Annan, 2010