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617 million children worldwide lack basic maths and literacy skills

By Sarah Mac Donald - 21 January, 2020

An estimated 50% of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected areas around the globe according to World Vision Ireland.

Ahead of International Day of Education on Friday 24th January, the overseas aid charity has warned that some 57 million children at primary school level remain out of school even though enrolment in primary education has now reached 91% in developing countries.

In 2018, a total of 260 million children and youths were out of school in the developing world.

As part of their awareness campaign ahead of International Day of Education, the organisation has highlighted how access to education is deprioritised by displaced communities, who are fleeing conflict or persecution, and this brings long-term difficulties.

World Vision Ireland is working to improve access to and the quality of education in the developing world.

It has supported the building of classrooms in South Sudan, toilets in Mauritania, as well as the provision of school supplies, teacher training, and working with parent/teacher committees to encourage children to stay in school.

The charity has highlighted how improving access to girls’ education can be difficult because of outdated gender stereotypes and stigma around menstruation. World Vision Ireland is working to challenge this stigma with information evenings in local communities and menstrual hygiene kits.

The charity has also noted that if every girl worldwide received 12 years’ quality education, lifetime earnings for women would increase by US$15 trillion to US$30 trillion globally.

According to Niall McLoughlin, CEO of World Vision Ireland, “617 million children worldwide lack basic maths and literacy skills. This brings long-terms problems, including creating poverty traps and dependency on aid services.”

He said the charity has seen school attendance improving in the developing world but there are still millions of children who don’t have access to education, or access to good quality education.

“Our education programmes focus on literacy and numeracy given their importance in life. Education is the ultimate equaliser and the gateway to a better future for people in fragile states. If people are educated and skilled, this improves not only their career possibilities and income potential, but also the health and prospects of their family and immediate community. A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of five.”

The right to education is enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to Niall McLoughlin, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a pivotal document in the history of human rights. It was drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world in 1948 and has since been translated into over 500 languages, which reflects the universal appreciation for, and understanding of, the importance of these human rights, one of which is education.”

World Vision Ireland is currently working on early childhood development in Jordan; child-friendly spaces and education in South Sudan; and literacy centres and teacher training in Uganda.

Their ambassador, Game of Thrones star, Liam Cunningham, visited one of the World Vision child-friendly spaces in South Sudan recently. Click here to see the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQu108ArfeY

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