Education

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In a country overwhelmed by refugee children, the schools had no room for her.

 

Hanan, age 8, lives in a Jordanian slum with her mother and four siblings.

They’re refugees from Syria’s brutal civil war, forced to leave their home after a bomb killed their father as he sold vegetables in the street, and debris from another blast injured one of their younger brothers.

I work for the Atlanta-headquartered humanitarian organization CARE. My job title is “Staff Writer” but, in reality, I’m as much of a finder as I am a writer. I find CARE program participants who want to talk about their experience with CARE, and connect these individuals with the people who support our work, or will support our work when they learn about what we do.

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One of hunger’s cruelest tricks is that it reinforces and replicates itself. Yanka says that when forced to choose between school for her children and food, she chose food. In that circumstance there is no good choice.

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In developed countries like the United States your earning potential is often based on the number of diplomas you have. But in rural Malawi, completing even a primary education is one of the most precious things anyone can achieve. For most girls there, getting even that single diploma is a rarity.

With a higher value placed on working in the fields, fetching water and helping take care of younger siblings, education lags behind for girls.

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While there is not a universal day set aside to promote the welfare of children, nations have been doing so for close to 100 years.

In 1925, the World Conference for the Well-being of Children observed the first-ever Children’s Day on June 1. Today, more than 50 countries around the world hold their festivities that day. In the United States, children are celebrated on the second Sunday of June, or June 8 for 2014. And eight countries mark the United Nations’ as Universal Children’s Day on November 20.

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Bouvanna Nhem crosses a river during her 8-mile hike to school. Arriving late and out of breath, it's hard to concentrate in class. Making the long trek each day wears her out. For Bouvanna, the daughter of a poor farming family in Cambodia's remote Ratanakiri province, school seems to be slipping further out of reach. She eventually drops out because of the distance and cost of secondary education.

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In 1998, CARE worked with 25 institutions in Peru to help pass a law that promoted universal basic education for girls. The law helped to address gender discrimination as well as ensuring that more resources for education reached rural areas of the country. By working with local civic groups, CARE helped to ignite a national movement to broaden girls’ access to basic education.

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