Education, a basic human right in most developed countries around the world, and yet there are children who do not have the opportunity to learn, especially if they live in poverty or are from an economically backward country.
There are many barriers to accessing education in poorer countries, such as not having a school or trained teachers for effective learning. The United Nations estimates that there are over 262 million children and young adults around the world that stay out of school and is demanding world leaders to take action and concrete steps to change it.
Children’s access to education has the power to end poverty, improve health and wellbeing, develop societies, grow economies, combat climate change and even end malnutrition. In short, education is the answer to the biggest challenges facing the planet.
Here are the 10 barriers to education around the world that we as global citizens need to take action on right now to achieve the Sustainable Development Global Goal #4 — Quality Education by 2030:
1. A lack of funding for education
According to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), less than 20% of educational aid goes to low-income countries, whereas it costs an average of $1.25 a day per child in developing countries to provide 13 years of education.
If each developing country invested just 15 cents more per child, it could make all the difference. There is currently a $39 billion shortage for providing quality education to all children by 2030. GPE encourages developing countries to contribute 20% of their national budget to education, and allocate 45% of it to primary education.
Developing countries rely on foreign aid and overseas funding for the education of their people as they cannot rely solely on their own financing.
2. Non-availability of teachers and a shortage of trained teachers
In certain countries, there are simply not enough teachers and many of the teachers that are currently teaching are not trained or qualified. As a result, children aren’t receiving a proper education. There are 130 million children in school who are not learning basic skills like reading, writing, and math.
Globally, the UN estimates that 69 million new teachers are required to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030. Meanwhile, in 1 out of every 3 countries, less than three-quarters of teachers are trained to national standards.
3. Shortage of classroom
A child cannot learn without the right environment. Children in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are often squeezed into overcrowded classrooms, classrooms that are falling apart, or are learning outside.
In Malawi, for example, there is an average of 130 children per classroom in grade 1. It’s not just a lack of classrooms that’s the problem, but also all the basic facilities you would expect a school to have — like running water and toilets.
In Chad, only 1 in 7 schools have potable water, and just 1 in 4 has a toilet; moreover, only one-third of the toilets that do exist are for girls only — a real disincentive and barrier for girls to come to school.
4. Lack of learning materials
In many parts of the world, children are forced to share outdated and worn-out textbooks due to lack of funds and learning resources. In Cameroon for instance, 1 reading book is shared between 11 primary school pupils and the mathematics textbook is shared between 13 students in grade 2.
In Tanzania, only 3.5% of grade 6 students had access to a reading textbook. Learning resources such as textbooks, worksheets, exercise books and, readers are in short supply across poorer countries and teachers are also in need of teaching material to help prepare the lesson plans for teaching effectively within the classroom.
5. Challenges faced by children with disabilities
Education — despite being recognized as a universal human right, over 93 million children with disabilities in the world are denied access to schools. It is more common in the world’s poorest countries where up to 95% of children with disabilities are out of school, however, the rate at which children with disabilities that are out of school in developed countries is not much lower at 90%.
A combination of discrimination, lack of training in inclusive teaching methods among teachers, and a lack of accessible schools leave this group uniquely vulnerable to being denied their right to education.
6. Disadvantaged by gender
Over 132 million young girls around the world are left disadvantaged for being born a female and are left out of school. In the developing world, one in 3 girls are forced to marry before they are 18 and as a result, are removed from schools.
Despite recent campaigns and educational awareness in the world’s poorest and developing countries, a generation of young women is feeling left behind due to their gender. They are denied access to education and are forced to help out in household chores and look after their siblings due to poverty and false belief that educating a boy is more fruitful than educating a girl child.
7. Children living in conflict or war-torn countries
Any war produces numerous casualties and education is almost always the first to be destroyed when there is a conflict. Its impact cannot be overstated with nearly 250 million children living in areas that are currently designated as conflict and disaster zones.
Over 61 million children do not have access to education due to wars and conflicts that have destroyed their schools and forced teachers and students to flee their homes. UNESCO states that girls are 90% more likely to be out of school within conflict-affected zones than anywhere else in the world. The UN Refugee Agency has stated that less than half of the world’s refugee children are enrolled in school, with less than 3% of global humanitarian aid being allocated towards education.
8. Long and dangerous walks to and from schools
It is common for many children living in the world’s poorest countries to walk to school for more than 3 hours in each direction. At times, they have to make this tedious journey in dangerous circumstances in areas prone to conflict or wild animals.
Imagine having to leave for school early in the morning on an empty stomach and walk for over 3 hours to reach the school in hazardous conditions. It is just too much for any child, particularly the ones that have disabilities and the ones who are suffering from malnutrition and other illnesses.
9. Starvation and Malnutrition
Lack of food has a direct influence on education in several of the world’s poorest countries, where children are suffering from starvation and malnutrition. As many as 151 million children under the age of 5 are estimated to have been prevented from growing or developing properly.
Malnourishment can affect a child’s cognitive abilities and brain development which results in a lack of focus and concentration in the classroom. Malnourished children are less likely to be able to even read by the age of eight!
10. The financial burden of education
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes clear that every child has the right to free basic education so that poverty and lack of money should not be a barrier to schooling. In many developing countries, over the last several, decades, governments have announced the abolition of school fees and as a result, they have seen impressive increases in the number of children going to school.
But for many of the poorest families, the school remains too expensive and children are forced to stay at home doing chores or work themselves. Families remain locked in a cycle of poverty that goes on for generations. In many countries throughout Africa, while education is theoretically free, in practice “informal fees” see parents forced to pay for “compulsory items” like uniforms, books, pens, extra lessons, exam fees, or funds to support the school buildings. In other places, the lack of functioning public (government-supported) schools means that parents have no choice but to send their children to private schools that, even if they are “low-fee,” are unaffordable for the poorest families who risk making themselves destitute in their efforts to get their children better lives through education.
How can we overcome these barriers?
There are several ways in which we can contribute to overcome these barriers to education faced by the world’s poorest children. There are several charities and non-profit organizations that are working tirelessly in tackling this epidemic and have achieved some success. However, there is a lot more that needs to be done and we as LearningOnline.xyz have made it our mission to connect all people to learning opportunities that contribute to happier, more fulfilled lives.
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