Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to ensure that, by 2030, all girls and boys complete quality primary and secondary education, and have free and equal access to educational opportunities.
The targets of the goal do not stop there. They want early childhood development, and affordable quality vocational and tertiary education for women and men. A key component to achieving this is to ‘eliminate gender disparities’ and upgrade education facilities to be ‘child, gender and disability sensitive’ and free from violence. To achieve this, Goal 4 includes a target to ensure that all learners are taught to promote sustainable development, human rights and gender equality for a culture of peace and global citizenship.
The aims of Goal 4 are far-reaching, but vital to ensure that all people are given the opportunities to grow in the knowledge and skills that can break them out of poverty and develop more inclusive societies worldwide.
At Viva, many of our partner networks are working to ensure that children complete primary and secondary education. As girls are often less likely to complete their education, many of our programmes have a particular focus on helping girls continue to return to education. We do this in a number of ways. In Cambodia, our partner networks are mentoring parents to teach them about the importance of their child completing education and to help them to manage their finances to afford this. Child Development Centres have been set up in Nepal to give children from difficult family situations a safe place to complete homework and develop their skills.
We are so excited about the work of Viva’s partner networks who are helping more and more children to complete their education. I want to delve a bit deeper to tell you about our project in Uganda, helping 1,000 girls who dropped out of school to return. A dedicated volunteer teacher trainer for CRANE, our partner network in Uganda, has written about their amazing work training teachers, helping girls get back to school, and creating facilities to ensure access for children with disabilities.
Education in Uganda: Training teacher and getting girls back to school (written by Nikki Hayns – CRANE volunteer)
One of the major foci of this year has been inclusive education. How do we bring children out of the darkness and into the light, providing them with the education and life they are entitled to?
To help girls who have dropped out of school to get ready to return, we have set up 22 Creative Learning Centres (CLCs) which provide catch-up education. Throughout 2016 there has been considerable work in this area. The teachers from the CLCs have received specialist training to learn how to handle and adapt to having different needs in their classroom. Many are now proficient in this and are capable of tackling many of the different needs the girls arrive with.
Mainstream teachers have also been introduced to differentiation and some of the hidden barriers to learning that children may have. We encourage them to see these children, not as stubborn or lazy, but as individuals who deserve an education. We used the strapline from a UK initiative from a few years ago, “Every child matters”, as a way of engaging them and beginning to change the mindsets that the teachers already have.
CRANE has also begun a partnership with the leading university for educational studies that will focus on improving the subject of inclusive education for pre-service and in-service teachers.
We have two special CLCs which support girls with more challenging learning difficulties. Both centres are starting to use a more life-skills based curriculum for learning, where the girls learn to read and do maths, while also learning essential skills to help them live in the world. Using this the teachers are seeing the girls grow in confidence and are beginning to look towards vocational school for the future.
The Girls Education Challenge has also begun extensive building work at some mainstream schools, providing VIP (ventilated internal pit) toilets. These new toilets will allow girls a new sense of privacy especially once they reach puberty (one reason for girls dropping out of school). There are also ramps being built to allow children who find access difficult a chance to attend a mainstream school. These developments are so important in creating inclusive environments where all children have access to an education.
After three years of hard work by CRANE and Viva staff in Uganda, the Girls Education Challenge project is transitioning to a new phase. As the last few months of this initial project roll by, the sustainability of the project is being worked upon to ensure that, in years to come, there is lasting evidence of the amazing work that has happened.
If you would like to give a gift to help girls in Uganda get ready to go back to school, or to support our work more generally, please follow the links provided.
You can find all the articles from our blog series by following this link.