World’s Best News Number Three

The World’s Best News Number Three – 90% of the world’s children now attend school!

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5-year-old Wah Wah, is living with her grandmother in Burma. She lost both parents and a younger sister to Nargis. When the cyclone hit, her parents were working in the field with nowhere to hide, while she was at home in the village with her grandmother. The two of them ran to the temple – the only strong building in the village – and that’s how they survived along with about a couple of hundreds other people. Her new school is the only other building that’s strong enough to resist cyclones, earthquakes and floods. It can also act as an emergency shelter that can save them from the cold during the aftermath of say, a cyclone. “I like running around the playground with my friends. The old school had nothing,” says Wah Wah. “I’m not scared when I’m at school. The strong building makes me feel safe,” she said.
Wah Wah doesn’t remember much of her family being so young when it all happened. “I remember their names, my father feeding me and the family eating together. my mother beating me when I dropped by baby sister. I also remember that they are all dead,” says Wah Wah with a composed, unusually strong face. She misses them the most just before she goes to sleep. Her 43-year-old grandmother says Wah Wah used to wake up in the middle of the night, every night, crying, looking for her parents. She still does that sometimes but less and less often. “When she cries I want to cry too, because the mother Wah Wah cries for is my dead daughter, but I never cry in front of her. I go cry alone,” says the grandmother. “I like that the new school is very strong. In the disaster training they tell us to run here if another cyclone hits. It makes us feel safe.”

More good news from the Developing World, even if it is not a wholly positive picture: The 2000 Millennium Development Goal was to achieve Universal Primary Education (UPE) by 2015. Very substantial progress has been made, even though on current trends, the target is still likely to be missed in 2015.

Between 2000 and 2011, the number of “out of school” children declined from 102 million to 57 million – a 44% reduction. 90% (and rising) of the world’s children now are at least starting school. Of course 90% is not universal, but the world is getting there. Parity has been achieved in education access for girls and boys.

As ever, sub-Saharan Africa is where most of the problems are, but also where fantastic progress is being made. Enrolment rose from 58% in 1999 to 77% in 2010 – and this was achieved against a backdrop of an increase of 32 million in the number of school-age children. The high drop-out rate is a major cause for concern, but we can say that the UPE goal has been the trigger for a hugely increased effort in educational provision.

Much more remains to be done. There are 123 million illiterate young people (15-24) in the world, 61% of whom are young women. ElectricAid has always recognised primary and vocational education as a key driver of development, and has always prioritised educational funding. In 2013 alone, we committed €210,000 to 29 projects in the education sphere all over the Developing World, but primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. These projects include buildings, furniture, teacher training, books and educational materials, and basic school infrastructure such as water, sanitation, solar & mains electrical power, and rainwater harvesting. We are playing our part in the drive for UPE, but it is your generosity that makes this progress possible.