Using education as catalyst for children in need


In first-world countries, students tend to take education for granted. For most children in these countries where wealth is more abundant than in many other parts of the world, going to school is as normal and as much a part of daily life as getting up, brushing your teeth and getting dressed. Unfortunately, there are scores of children across the globe who live in extreme poverty, hardship, and war zones who don’t have the privilege or benefit of education.

As a response to these children and their needs, foundations have sprung up worldwide to aid in reducing the problem and helping kids to get the building blocks they need for a better future. Using their resources, creativity, drive, and dedication, these associations, non-profits, and foundations are taking essential steps in big and small ways to ensure that deserving children who don’t have access to educational opportunities can get the schooling they need. Here are just a few examples of how these committed individuals and groups are making an impact in their own communities and worldwide.

Standing Up For Early Childhood Education

UNICEF is the United Nations’ agency for children and in terms of education as a “fundamental human right” and is working to “protect the right of every child to an education.” The organization says that across the world, more than half of children aged 3 to 6, a total of 159 million children, have no access to pre-primary education, which it says is one of the key factors that levels the playing field and help children reach their potential. The benefits of early education for children are numerous, and UNICEF is one of the agencies working to make a difference.

The organization shares many of its success stories on its website. Among these are the stories of multi ethnic communities where education in different languages is extending educational opportunities to children who would have been previously left behind, such as the rural Ratanak Kiri in Cambodia in the country’s far northeast. Now, children there are able to learn in a preschool that teaches in their mother tongue as well as Khmer, the country’s official language.

Giving Orphaned Children a Chance

Across the globe in Uzbekistan, the country’s ambassador to UNESCO, another UN agency, is working to bring education and other resources to children who have been abandoned or orphaned. These children are often forgotten in orphanages, left without the care and nurturing that every child needs and deserves. Without strong advocates to speak up for them and work on their behalf, they are unable to grow in an environment that can provide them with the tools they need for a productive future.

This ambassador, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, founded the You Are Not Alone Foundation, whose mission is to provide “comprehensive assistance and support to children left without parental care.” Karimova-Tillyaeva embarked upon a survey of the orphanages in Uzbekistan to identify critical needs and then took action to make things better. With her foundation’s Mercy Homes, orphanages have been equipped with basic facilities that they were previously lacking, including medical units and sporting facilities.

What’s more, her foundation implemented educational centers, employing experts to nurture children in need to develop their full potential. Thanks to the foundation’s education center, it said that more than 2,500 children from orphanages and low-income families, as well as children with disabilities, have received training and over 240 have gone on to study at the country’s top universities. Now, these children who previously wouldn’t have had the chance to make the most of their innate gifts are able to become strong and contributing members of their local communities, thanks to the work of Karimova-Tillyaeva and her foundation.

Empowering Girls To Succeed

One of the most well-known organizations in terms of support to children is Save the Children. It has various programs for helping provide children in need with educational opportunities. In particular, it offers a program directed towards education for girls called Every Last Girl. Young women in impoverished areas are often at a double disadvantage when it comes to education, due to discrimination, early marriage, violence, or human trafficking. But Alice Albright, the CEO of Global Partnership for Education, says that educating more girls “leads to remarkable social, economic and health gains.”

Never Take Your Education For Granted

If you’re currently a student, these stories are a good reminder to never take your own educational opportunities and studies for granted. What’s more, you can also be a catalyst for change in your own community. Just like international organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children, as well as leading individuals such as Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, your unique contribution can make a difference. By sharing what you know with those in need, and perhaps even getting involved in local, national, or international educational initiatives for children, you can be an important part of the solution.