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Archive for the ‘Education and Child Protection’ Category

By: Maria Dieci

Every four years, the world comes together over a shared love of soccer.  National pride blossoms and old rivalries resurface during the World Cup.  Emotions soar as entire nations watch with bated breath as their teams fight for the highly coveted title of world champion.  With hundreds of millions of people in every corner of the world tuning in to the matches, the tournament is proof of soccer’s ability to capture the world’s attention.  South Africa, the host country, understands its enrapturing nature, and uses it to promote children’s rights.

A TEAM EFFORT

UNICEF has partnered with various local organizations to bring education, opportunity, and safety to vulnerable children and youth.  A program called World Cup in My Village brings the excitement of the matches to rural African villages with live screenings.  In addition to giving children a safe space to watch the matches, the screens transmit vital information regarding children’s health and their rights.

Besides the promotion of children’s health, the World Cup campaigns seek to ensure protection for vulnerable children during and after the tournament.  Civil society partners in South Africa have worked together to make this a reality.  Child friendly spaces, established at the stadiums, offer protection and child care to children who become separated from their families or are targets of sexual exploitation or violence.  Protective measures have been established across the country.  Now, all nine South African provinces have trained social workers who can identify and effectively help children at risk.  The Red Card Campaign targets families, children, and tourists, and educates them about the dangers and consequences of child trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Education comes in the form of red cards similar to those given to soccer players on the field for committing fouls, but these hold important messages about protection, prevention and awareness.

Education is empowerment, and every child should feel empowered to take charge of his or her life.  Through the 1Goal campaign, FIFA and civil society organizations across the world hope to tackle the poverty and gender inequalities in education currently present in South Africa.  The campaign culminates on July 11, with a summit on education in Cape Town.  Currently, 72 million children are denied education.  1Goal strives to put every one of these children in school by 2015.  2015 marks the end date for the Millennium Development Goals outlined by the UN as well.  This campaign is an effort to make these goals a reality, because currently there is not enough action being taken.  If efforts do not increase to secure universal education, 56 million children will still be denied schooling in 5 years.

CHILDREN FOR THE FUTURE

What these campaigns realize is that children are the future.  We cannot afford to lose a generation of doctors, soccer players, activists, and teachers because they were unable to attend school.  We should be doing everything we can to give youth these opportunities.  These campaigns use a universal love for soccer to promote a universal need for education and healthcare.  Because of their efforts, vulnerable youth are being equipped with the tools they need to map out their own futures and score their own goals.

RETURN TO THE OUR GLOBAL VICTORY HOMEPAGE WHERE YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN GIVING YOUTH OPPORTUNITY!

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Written by: Maria Dieci

National security threats have changed face drastically over the course of the past few decades, and have become infinitely more frightening, invisible, and unpredictable.  Lawless lands, where conflicting groups vie for power, are the most dangerous threats to national security.  Violent, extremist groups – such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban – threaten both US security and the stability of the countries they infest.  What makes these threats so difficult to isolate and defuse is that they do not operate in an organized manner and they threaten their own people with little opposition.  Further, weakened states fail to provide their citizens with protection from terrorist groups because of fragile or inexistent infrastructure.

According to a United Nations estimate, 4 billion people live outside of the protection of the law.  These people may not even know what basic rights they have, let alone if they are being violated.  In many disorganized states, there is no effective mechanism to control corruption, greed, and exploitation.  Further, while some of these states are signatory to United Nations Human Rights Agreements, they have no matching legislation and no effective public justice system to protect the poor.  Those in power are unchallenged, and can strip the poor of any foreign assistance they receive.  As much as 85% of foreign aid never reaches those for whom it is intended, reveals a World Bank study.  Could half a century of development work have been done in vain?

YOUTH ARE A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE SOLUTION

Corruption, violence, and injustice are common in failing states, delivering crippling blows to the most vulnerable sectors of the population: the poor, women, and children.  Education and healthcare are scarce, and the youth of these countries have very few opportunities.  Without opportunity, there is little hope for the future.  Feeling hopeless youth are a vulnerable target of terrorist organizations that offer food for their families, security, acceptance, and purpose in exchange for loyalty.

This is why creating opportunity for children is so important and why human rights groups have made it their mission to provide hope for the world’s youth.  Children equipped with education, adequate healthcare, and prospects for the future are more stable.  They are also less likely be recruited by terrorists and are poised to strengthen and rebuild their countries.  Youth must be given opportunities to learn, harvest dreams for themselves, and be a positive force in their countries.

Regardless of political belief, those who are interested in national security have a vested interest in human rights, and those who are interested in human rights have a vested interest in national security.  Development must happen on the ground level with the empowerment and education of youth and the establishment and safeguarding of human rights.  It must also happen on the national level with the development of infrastructure, the creation of public justice systems and the restoration of political stability.  Only then can a weakened state be strengthened and rebuilt in order to champion human rights, offer hope for the future, and, as a consequence, achieve national and international security.


Return to the Our Global Victory homepage to see how you can become involved in providing youth with opportunity and hope for the future.

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By: Maria Dieci

The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated annually on June 16 since the Organization of African Unity founded it in 1991.  This holiday is celebrated to honor the memory of all of those killed and all of those who marched in the 1976 demonstrations in Soweto, South Africa.  Thousands of school children in the city took to the streets to protest their inferior quality of education and to demand the right to be taught in their native language.  The rally was the target of police brutality.  Hundreds of young boys and girls were gunned down.  In the few weeks of protests that ensued, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand people were injured.  This day of remembrance does not simply dwell on the past, but looks toward the future of African children.

The focus of this holiday is on the collective responsibility of national governments to plan and budget for children’s rights.  UNICEF executive director, Anthony Lake, asserts that the millions of African children that die before they learn to read can be saved with an increased investment in health care and education by the governments.  These advances will not only save the lives of the children, but will improve the development of the nation.

Reasons to Invest in Children:

  • Health and Education = Productive members of society
  • Increased education leads to better workforce
  • Educated workers earn more – boost local economy
  • Better health leads to healthier future generations
  • Cycle of poverty will be broken!

Our Global Victory helps secure optimistic futures for Africa’s children.  Help one of our partners, the HoPE Primary School project, give Ugandan children the gift of an education.

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The founder of OGV speaks with conference attendees.

Our Global Victory was pleased to be a guest at the 2010 Voices for Africa conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on April 10, 2010.

Speakers included Dr. Shirley Burchfield from World Education, Dr. Tatiana Carayannis from the Social Science Research Council, and Godfrey Orach Otobi, a student of Fletcher School at Tufts, who shared his personal experiences growing up in conflict.

Rich discussions followed informative presentations on topics aimed at highlighting the challenges of accessing quality education faced by African children in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Some thought provoking issues that were discussed were:

The Youth Bulge in Africa

Participants discussed how the youth bulge in Africa will affect the economy and the possibility of increasing future conflict. Many states greatly affected by conflict in Africa are made up of over 50% youth under the age of 25. Many young people have not had access to education for many years and have lived in traumatic situations. Some scholars believe that these youth will be more likely to become involved in future conflict. However, the overall consensus of practitioners and researchers at the conference was that this was an extremely important opportunity to provide these youth with opportunities and that they could influence their states in positive ways that would result in economic growth and peace for Africa.  Discussed by Dr. Tatiana Carayannis of the Social Science Research Council.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two lattes this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to build classrooms for a post conflict refugee community in Uganda so they can become more sustainable!

Dr. Carayannis, Richard Opio, and Dr. Mendenhall

Getting Vital Information to the People of Africa

With limited resources, how can positive messages and accurate news spread through Africa? Many practitioners and advocates are harnessing the power of radio to reach the African populations. Organizations such as Search for Common Ground, are utilizing the radio to promote peace between groups and empower young people using interactive programming. Other organizations offer important educational information including agricultural, disease prevention, and objective news to help increase political participation from villagers. Discussed by Sally Chin of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Adult Literacy Education

A crucial need that is often overlooked in literacy education is the need to educate illiterate adults in a meaningful way. This includes finding out what they need and want to learn and what would be most useful for them to learn. Some possibilities of note were how to make prices in the marketplace, basic literacy, and issues useful to their everyday lives. Most adults do not wish to go through the rigorous literacy programs that are taught to children in primary school and need a program that is adapted to suit their lives. Discussed by Atema Eclai of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two after dinner desserts this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to give adult education to people in the marketplace of Vandeika Benue State Nigeria so that they can afford to send their children to school!

Sally Chin, Joe Read, and Atema Eclai

The afternoon talk given by Godfrey Orach Otobi on The Effect of Conflict on Education in Uganda tied the conference together and made people appreciate a deeper understanding of the days topics. Godfrey described growing up in conflict and how his experiences made it impossible for him access a quality education. He described how he and his classmates fled for their lives from rebels who captured them repeatedly after every escape. Despite constant trauma, it was his mother’s inspirational words and thoughts on education that gave him the strength to survive. He now advocates on behalf youth in Uganda and to giving them opportunities for a bright future.

The overall tone of the conference can best be described by Atemi Eclai’s words when she urged people to look at Africa “through a lens of hopefulness”.

{RETURN TO THE OUR GLOBAL VICTORY HOMEPAGE}

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HoPE Primary School – Uganda

I was introduced to this project by my professor, Sarah Dryden-Peterson, at Harvard. Sarah had spent time in Uganda researching and wrote a paper on this remarkable refugee community. HoPE provides free education to refugee children and a center to foster peaceful relations between refugees and locals. Their current need is to build three additional classrooms each costing $7345. This will provide education for additional students and help this community become more sustainable.

MarketPlace School Initiative- Nigeria

A former classmate, Haviva Kohl, co-founded this initiative to provide literacy education for children and adults in an area with immense need: the marketplace. Children making a living in the Nigerian marketplaces often forego schooling to help feed their families. Women who get an education from MPSI will be able to apply for micro-loans, expand or start businesses, and pay for school fees for their children. Just launched in March, 311 women are already enrolled. Current need is $2568 to help create the Vandeika, Benue State School.

Akanksha – India

A colleague of mine spent time volunteering in India with Akanksha and was amazed at their ability to provide education, opportunity, and protection to children from slum communities in Pune and Mumbai. Their current need is to help maintain schools, buy medical supplies, and help support their social welfare program.

Global Potential – Central America

A fellow Harvard Alum introduced me to a program that she believes in so much that she volunteers with it in a full-time position. GP projects help underprivileged youth in NYC and Boston by enabling them to build skills and by helping them stay in school. In turn, they travel to an impoverished community outside of the U.S. to complete a service project that helps that community build its economy and create sustainability. Their current needs are funding for transportation, training, and accommodations for their upcoming service projects.

Each of these projects fit meet the OGV guidelines and criteria to ensure their impact, legality, non-discrimination policies, and ethical standards. For more information on this process click here.

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A Makeshift Classroom

All children deserve access to quality education and to child safe spaces. This is especially challenging for refugees that live outside of refugee camps. These urban refugees do not have the same rights as refugees living inside of the camps and they do not have the same rights as citizens living outside of the camp. This gray area could have a devastating affect on children who are left without access to education and the protection that schools provide.

One such community in Uganda has worked tirelessly to build and staff a school that not only provides children with a quality education but also serves as a meeting place for refugee and native community members. The HoPE Primary School began in 2001 by a group of refugee parent teachers who volunteered their days to educate their children, while at night they worked at paid jobs to earn an income and feed their children.

Photo taken by Evan Earwicker

The HoPE Primary School is the only Ugandan school for refugees located outside of a refugee camp. HoPE School is financially supported with contributions from refugee parents and school fees from native Ugandan families. However, these contributions and fees are not enough to adequately pay teacher salaries, so HoPe Primary School relies on volunteer teachers from within and outside of the community. These sources of income are also not enough to fix broken classrooms or to build the additional classrooms that the school needs.

The new classrooms will provide free primary education to vulnerable children including girls, reduce the number of child pregnancies, and provide protection for children during school hours.

To find out more about this remarkable community and how you can help go to: www.ourglobalvictory.com.

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Education not only leads to a greater chance for employment, it also protects children, and builds nations. Education gives children options and children who perceive themselves as having options are more successful and have more positive outcomes than children who do not perceive themselves as having options. The issue of providing access to quality education is an international one in developed countries and in developing countries. Over 75 million children  are not in school. Of those children who are in school it is unknown how many of them are receiving a quality education.

 

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the need for better data gathering techniques in the U.S. school system. The article stated that public school records fail to keep track of how many children leave high school each year and that records do not track what happens to those children that have left school. These children are often underprivileged and in the most need. The article alluded that children who are the most challenging to education are often pushed out of the school system. What becomes of them?  

 

Further, children in foster care who age out of the system without a permanent family have often been in and out of foster care facilities and in and out of school. Options for these children are often bleak with many of them ending up homeless without the chance to attend college or learn the skills necessary to be competitive in the job market.

 

Children who work outside of the home, in an effort to support their families, are often preyed upon by human traffickers. For these children, school becomes a safe space because it is the teachers and other students who realize if they are missing and watch over them during school hours.

 

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Access to quality education is a human right and accomplishes the following:

  • Raises self esteem and self awareness which leads to positive relationships throughout life
  • Gives children the tools and skills that they need to be competitive in the job market after graduation
  • Teaches children valuable resources for the future
  • Provides a safe place during school hours
  • Gives children options
  • Attending school helps to prevent and ease symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder in refugee, internally displaced, war afflicted, and abused children
  • Information is used to prevent transmittable diseases and unwanted pregnancies
  • Provides nutrition – school meals may be the only meal a child has during the day
  • Provides the tools necessary to compare information
  • Develops analytical thinking
  • Contributes to peaceful communication and negotiations
  • Produces thoughtful leaders
  • Provides nations with future community developers, leaders, teachers, and skilled workers
  • Helps prevent the cycle of violence
  • Exposes children to new ideas, possibilities, healthcare, and mentors

 

Education plays many roles in a child’s life. It is necessary to make sure that all children have access to quality education and to not underestimate the amount of children or the origin of children in need.

Some ways to make a difference in the lives of children:

  • Support projects that benefit children
  • Become aware of educational issues in your area or other areas of interest and share your knowledge with others
  • Work with your company to develop a mentorship or other options focused program for underprivileged children
  • Volunteer to support youth opportunity projects in person or online
  • Let youth build their resumes by using some of their intellectual products with your company. This could be some artwork, poetry, essays, strategy, or marketing products 

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