4 Interesting Stories about Global Education in 2015

The world is increasingly becoming a global community. Since education is an important part of every country, it was only a matter of time before the field of education conformed to this new global reality. To drive this point home, we decided to write a piece featuring the top global education stories of 2015.

Teens fight for better global educational opportunities. Across the globe, 15-year-olds recently came together to stand up for an issue that impacts the education of kids around the world: poverty. As I’ve discussed before, students with underlying issues like poverty, hunger, or neglect are often unable to function at a necessary level in K-12 classrooms. But all of the best academic initiatives in the world cannot fix a broken home or an empty stomach, which is why these issues must be addressed inside schools in order for academics to improve.

The “action/2015” initiative shares my sentiments. Students who are 15 years old today called on world leaders to put in place policies that would eradicate hunger, violence against women and children, and poverty in order to make the world a better place by 2030. This global group of students recently made their case to the U.S. State Department, calling for everything from clean drinking water to better educational opportunities for children across the globe.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Toluwanimi Sola-Adeyemi of Lagos said that she was petitioning for more reliable electricity in her home country of Nigeria because when the power goes out, it affects everything from safe drinking water to ability to go to school. Other students are asking for things like better opportunities for education in third-world countries, particularly for women.

It is great to see young people taking such ownership of these world issues, particularly access to education. With their determination and the help of the world leaders today, hopefully we will be closer to equal access to education and eliminating poverty across the globe by 2030.

White House Launchers global girl’s education program. President and First Lady Obama announced “Let Girls Learn,” a White House initiative that targets global education for young women as a road to more economic opportunity, less child marriages, and less violence towards women worldwide. The Peace Corps will partner with the White House and target 11 countries for educational programs in the first year, which include Ghana, Moldova, Cambodia, and Uganda.

A statement on the initiative from the White House reads:

62 million girls around the world — half of whom are adolescent — are not in school. These girls have diminished economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, early and forced marriage, and other forms of violence.

Yet when a girl receives a quality education, she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family, and her community.

Here in the United States we tend to bicker over the details of delivering an education to our kids, but we often forget the binding belief that American children DESERVE that baseline education. Outside the U.S., that belief is not as prevalent, and that is especially true when it comes to young women throughout the world.
In some cases, young women are treated as second-class citizens or worse against their wills. In other cases, young women are not given access to education and therefore have a very narrow view of the world and what role they should play in it. In both situations, the U.S. should be at the forefront of extended education as a means for change, and other countries should follow suit.

Developing worlds 100 years behind in education. The Brookings Institution reports that education quality and levels in developing countries are approximately 100 years behind developed countries. This global gap in education shows that, in the world’s poorest nations, the average levels of attainment are at levels achieved in developed countries in the early 20th century.

The good news is that, in the past 50 years, the belief that schooling is a necessity has spread across the globe (thanks in part to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and now 90 percent of primary school-aged children are enrolled.

Enrolling and progressing are very different things though, as we know just by looking at American schools. Getting children into a classroom and seated at a desk is just the start. When it comes to what is actually being learned in these developing nations, the gap is wide, to put it mildly. According to the Brookings Institute, at the current rate of educational attainment, it will take 1.6 billion people more than 85 years to catch up to the current educational level in developed countries.

So then the question becomes: What will this gap look like in another 85 years? How can we successfully narrow it?

Educational attainment is not just a manifestation of what happens in the classrooms, of course. It is much more involved than that. Addressing issues like eradicating child hunger, providing clean water, and expanding access to healthcare worldwide will all help educational levels rise, along with quality of life.

Developed countries should care about these issues not just because they are issues of humanity, but because they all impact the global economy too. Where do you expect the global education gap will rest in another 50 years? 85 years? 100+ years?

Michelle Obama announced education partnership with the UK. On a trip to the United Kingdom, First Lady Michelle Obama revealed that the United States and the UK will form a partnership “to improve girls’ access to education around the world.”

By way of CNN.com, the partnership will include $200 million in funding that will “support adolescent girls’ education.”

What’s even better is that some of the money will target areas impacted by war and domestic crisis situations, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That area, according to CNN.com, will “receive $180 million over five years, benefiting ‘more than 755,000 girls aged 10 to 18.’”

The trip is part of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Let girls Learn initiative “that will leverage the investments we have made and success we have achieved in global primary school, and expand them to help adolescent girls complete their education,” according to the White House’s website.

In addition to expanding the USAID’s work, Obama will work with the Peace Corps to expand the initiative’s reach by connecting “volunteers with members of the public and private sector to fund small, community-initiated, sustainable, grassroots projects.”

While we often gripe about the state of education in America, like K-12 funding, student loan debt, or the viability of charter schools, education in developing countries and war-torn nations is obviously much worse.

Aiding those students, specifically girls, will contribute to the health and viability of their future, their long-term health, and their country’s economies.

What interesting global education stories did we miss?

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