August 3, 2012 in MDG 2 (Education)
In this blog Steven Burrell exploes the challenges of improving education in the global South.
Education is a primary concern among many countries of the global South. This is mainly for two reasons: technological innovation and human resources. Without a progressive educational system in place, a nation’s youth cannot learn the skills and experiences they need to be successful and productive adults. In fact, education is the cornerstone of a country’s economic and social development.
There are several things that a southern country can do to improve education as a whole, to further enhance the abilities of a future workforce.
The educational experience of youth in the global South differs from those in the global North where education has been prioritized for several generations. While children in developed nations have comfortable classrooms, adequate teaching resources and well trained educators, those from poorer countries are often grouped into a single classroom under difficult conditions and lacking the very fundamental tools needed to educate. To improve education in countries of the global South, one must build schools and hire teachers to do the job well.
A study conducted in 2005 by Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies revealed the success of a strategic campaign by the Refugee Education Trust to educate the refugees in Eastern Sudan following conflicts there that forces 12,000 refugees into camps in Chad. Taking educational resources to students is often an effective approach to improving the circumstances of even war-torn nations trying to recover as they develop into stronger communities.
When it comes to teachers, a southern country may rely on local support from parents and clergy to help students learn collectively. However, to improve education, teachers can be brought in from other areas to teach cross-cultural concepts and increase awareness about other careers and lifestyles. There are often resources available through non-profit groups and volunteer teacher organizations to share a greater wealth of knowledge in this manner.
Additionally, education needs to be focused on the types of career opportunities that will enable young people to support themselves after completing educational goals. Otherwise, education loses its value to society. The community should look at the major industries and design educational experiences around the most promising career paths.
Providing young people the opportunity to intern or work as apprentices can offer much to the success of the region’s market economy.
A problem often also experienced is the disparity in the available educational opportunities for all youth. Many communities will not allow females to participate in educational experiences. In others, a strict social code prevents children from getting even the basic skills because of old values that no longer serve the community. To improve education all students should be given equal opportunity to attend school, safely and with the approval of their community leaders.
Because education is tied so closely with economic stability, countries of the global South must reach out to all available resources in order to establish a strong foundation of core programs. Reading, Mathematics, and Science are the key elements of successful economic development that can be introduced at all levels of education. By tapping into international resources and educational aid can be obtained to make sure that students have access to educational tools that address these core areas.
Lastly, the enhancement of education should not stop at the school yard. Communities also need support in order to allow students to focus on their studies, especially when many youth are forced to work instead of attending school. Therefore, public welfare programs such as nutrition and preventative healthcare should be made available to support the goals of the educational programs.
Steven Burrell writes and reports for a company that helps measure student success through aptitude and cognitive ability tests. He spends lots of his free time volunteering for different education-focused organizations.