Education is the key

by ACT

The UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 sets out to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. This goal fits in with the primary objective of ACT to alleviate poverty by providing disadvantaged African children and orphans with the opportunity of education that will give them know how and provide access to gainful employment. Education is an important route out of poverty. The development of a nation is in the education of its children.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world

(Nelson Mandela)

 Global Trend

Significant worldwide progress has been made over the years. For example, primary school enrolment is at 91% in developing countries, and completion rates for primary education have been rising steadily since 2000. However, there is more to do to ensure that nobody misses out and that secondary and tertiary education become commonplace for boys and, more importantly, girls. An estimated 131 million girls still remain out of school. Of the girls in school, many are unable to complete their education due to gender-based violence, early/forced marriage, child-bearing, and poor menstrual healthcare provision. Young boys face many barriers to education as well, particularly those living in acute poverty/fatherless families. Boys in these situations are often expected to work to support their household and consequently miss school.

These problems disproportionately affect children in Africa. Of all world regions Africa has the highest rate of education exclusion. The figures are disheartening. About 1 in every 5 children between the ages of 6 and 11 are not in school, and around 9 million girls of this age group will never even go to school. Left unresolved, these figures will only continue to get worse.

 ACT in Africa

It is for these reasons that ACT was set up 20 years ago. The children ACT supports are the very vulnerable, mostly orphans or those who have lost one of their parents. The advent of the HIV/AID pandemic from the mid 1980’s caused great devastation to the lives of people in Africa. It left many children orphaned, with responsibility for them passed on to grandparents and elderly relatives. It also introduced a previously unknown situation in African society, that of child-led families. With no breadwinner, orphans and fatherless children are forced to stay at home or work to help support their siblings or widowed mothers.

 Child Sponsorship

Our approach to providing support for these children has been through our child sponsorship programme through which we provide access to quality education and welfare in local schools within their communities.

We offer these disadvantaged children the necessary funds and materials that will enable them to go to school. This kind of support is made possible by the compassion of our sponsors, who are moved to action by stories of poverty and pain. Child education sponsorship is essential, as many of the countries in which we work still require that parents pay school fees for their children to go to school. The aim of SDG 4 is to make both primary and secondary education free by 2030. But until this goal is realised, the world has a duty to provide a safety net to the many that are disadvantaged. ACT will continue to play its part in helping those struggling to enter into or even remain in education due to its expense.

Our interest extends beyond primary and secondary education and as such we aim to propel our sponsored children into skilled employment through tertiary education as well. Many of the nearly two thousand children we have sponsored so far have found professional employment through our investment and care. When Emmanuel’s Sarakikya’s father died, his mother struggled to get by on her own and, regretfully, had to take Emmanuel out of school. Discovered by our partners in Tanzania, Emmanuel became a sponsored child under ACT. He went on to complete primary and secondary education and in 2014 he qualified as a Medical Doctor. He is one of the many lives transformed by the ACT sponsorship programme. To this day, his UK sponsor who contributed to his support has remained in contact with him.

Dignity for Girls

Included in SDG 4 is the goal to eliminate gender disparities within education, securing equal access to all levels of education. Worldwide, more girls than boys are out of school and very often absence is due to limited or no access to sanitary products. Our ‘Ulemu project’ in Malawi is tackling this barrier to education for girls head on. The project is empowering girls in the Nyezerera community in Phalombe district in southern Malawi. We are counselling the girls with information about menstrual and reproductive health and providing them with reusable sanitary pads, which they would not normally be able to afford.  The project trains the “mother groups” how to produce the re-useable pads locally, enabling them to generate income by selling them in the local markets. This project enables the girls to spend more time learning and encourages the “mother groups” to support their girls to remain in education.

To find out more about how you can sponsor a child and give them the gift of an education click here!

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