2021 International Day of Education

Education is a human right and the key to sustainable development. Education offers children a way out of poverty and a path to a promising future. Education is also a key program at NPH.
January 19, 2021 - NPH International

A young boy in our elementary school at Casa Padre Wasson at NPH Bolivia takes part in a group task.

The world is developing and changing every day. Over the last decade improvements in fighting the hunger, in health care and education had been achieved worldwide. But the COVID-19 pandemic hits us all and again the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. And the negative impact goes far beyond the direct terrible loss of so many human lives, children, youth, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. Hunger and poverty increase again. The pandemic has serious impacts worldwide especially on the less and least developed countries, which are already facing poverty, hunger, war, refugees, and the consequences of climate change.

Never before in human history have there been so many children and young people in the world as today: around 3.1 billion people are under 25-years-of-age. The vast majority - around 90 percent - live in developing countries, where they often make up the absolute majority of the population. Children are not only a large group and make up 34 percent of the world population, but they are also particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged: 48 percent, almost half of the world's poor, are children.

Children are also more existentially affected by poverty than adults, they are more often affected by several deficiency situations at the same time: They have neither access to education, nor to sufficient food, nor to clean drinking water and healthcare.

This year the International Day of Education will be marked under the theme ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’. The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than just a medical crisis and a threat for the health of children. Education has been affected tremendously by the COVID-19 restrictions.

Education at NPH

Since the beginning, NPH has believed in providing a holistic education that will help children and youth grow in mind, spirit and body. Each and every day, the NPH homes and schools strive to carry out Father Wasson’s vision that he shared when he said, "Education will take my children out of the poverty into which they were born.”

NPH provides almost 2600 scholarships for children from low-income households and vulnerable neighborhoods to attend school and even more children and youth living at NPH homes attend school from pre-k to university or vocational school.

NPH ensures that children receive their universal right to education by accepting students’ distinct learning needs and adopting a personalized, inclusive approach that recognizes past hardships and transforms them to fulfill their unique potential. All the girls and young women in our homes and schools have the same opportunities as the boys to finish their primary education and attend university. They are raised as equals in our homes and they are encouraged to cultivate and pursue their dreams.

As girl empowerment is a key component of our work at NPH the success of the girls and young women speaks for itself: 50% of our youth who have earned a vocational certification are women. 55% of our high school graduates are girls, 45% of our university graduates are women and those numbers grow every year. Currently, we have 187 young women studying in universities across Latin America.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, schools and universities in Latin American countries switched to online classes or mostly especially in primary and secondary education to sending assignments and homework via the communication app, WhatsApp. In all the countries NPH serves in, except for Nicaragua and Haiti, schools have been closed for months or completely during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Our caregivers have had to juggle with the countless assignments and homework for all the kids most often from different grades. Day-by-day: downloading, printing, tutoring the kids in different subjects and levels, and uploading the materials again took most of the daily workload. As homeschooling for families with two or three children in developed countries with technology at-hand is already a challenge, you can imagine the difficulties managing homework for 15 children or more on a daily base with a small cellphone device. In addition, all our employees have had to obey quarantine rules and remain several weeks on the premises to keep the virus out of the NPH homes. Separated from their own families and facing the uncertainty of being away from loved ones, the caregivers can be counted among “heroes of the pandemic”, along with our medical teams.

When children cannot go to school, they are deprived of more than just education. Without structured school time, children lose their routine and are unable to socialize with their friends. Some rely on school-feeding programs and will therefore miss what may be their only nutritious meal of the day. Besides increasing their exposure to undernutrition, being out of school means children are at greater risk of other dangers at home or in their neighborhood, such as child labor, trafficking, adolescent pregnancy, sexual exploitation and abuse, child marriage (or early unions) and violence.

In Latin America and the Caribbean on average 22% of the children are not enrolled in upper secondary education, in Guatemala and Honduras more than fifty percent. According to the UN state of world children data the completion rate for primary education in Haiti is no higher than 49% for boys and 58% for girls.

Education is a human right and the key to sustainable development. Education offers children a way out of poverty and a path to a promising future. Education is also a key program at NPH, and we continue to strive to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Providing a Quality Education. So today we celebrate International Day of Education.

Help us continue achieving a quality education for our children in the nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where we serve. Donate at NPH International.

Markus Streit   
Family Services Coordinator - NPH International




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