Thursday, 28 January 2010

Education is the key

In January 2009, World In Need opened a primary school in Soy near Eldoret in Northern Kenya. On the day it opened, there was one pupil.

A year later, there are 123 pupils and they are preparing to sit national exams, in which they hope to do well. Children who obtain high grades in these exams can attend elite secondary schools, giving them a head start in life.

A good education is one of the most precious gifts a child can receive. It leads to good career prospects, a reasonable salary and a decent standard of living. It can also benefit the entire community, resulting in skills that make life better for all.

However, education is not a gift that all children receive as a matter of course. It is estimated that 121 million children worldwide are denied the opportunity of an education, and with it, the chance of a hopeful future.

Throughout the developing world, many parents would love their children to go to school, but they cannot afford it. Even where schooling is supposedly free, money can be a problem, as illustrated by the situation in Kenya. Education in Government run schools here is free, in that a child does not have to pay to attend classes, but there are costs that can prevent attendance. For example, school uniform is compulsory and without it, children cannot join the class. The average cost of a uniform in Kenya is the equivalent of £3 ($5). Cheap when compared to costs in Britain or America, but far beyond the reach of a farm labourer in Soy, earning the equivalent of 50 pence (about 80 cents) a week.

Exams must also be paid for, and many schools insist on parents paying for these at the beginning of the year, before the child is allowed to join the school. If the parents cannot pay the child is excluded from class, remains uneducated and cannot hope to better their life chances.

World In Need helps children receive an education that would otherwise be denied them. Sponsors pay £20 ($30) monthly; often a small amount to them, but to a child in the developing world it means the difference between hope and hopelessness. The money not only pays their schooling costs, but in many cases also means the children do not have to go out to work to help with the family income.

For too many, the door to the future is locked. Education is the key. We want to give that key to everyone.

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