As the end of summer draws closer, there’s one thing on the minds of parents and kids everywhere: back to school. It’s that time of year to dust off backpacks, get some new supplies, and start sending kids back to the classroom for another year of learning.
Preparing for the school year may be on the minds of lots of families, but it’s not the case for everyone. Globally, 263 million children and youth are out of school. Girls in the poorest countries are hit especially hard when it comes to lack of education.
Every child deserves the opportunity to learn and thrive. Yet, some key things are missing in many countries. Providing kids with all the essentials they need to get a quality education will allow them to unlock their full potential and create a bright future for themselves, their communities, and the whole world.
Here’s our back-to-school list to get kids around the world back in school:
This may seem like an obvious one, but students can’t learn without someone to teach them. Without enough qualified teachers, students run the risk of attending overcrowded schools that don’t provide quality learning. An estimated 17 million additional primary and secondary teachers will need to be hired by 2030 in Sub-Saharan Africa alone to provide every student with an effective education.
Conflict takes a lot of opportunities away from children. Education is one such opportunity. Globally, 27 million children are out of primary school in conflict areas. In these areas, girls are more than twice as likely to not receive an education.
Without access to healthy meals, children have a harder time learning in school. Better school meal programs have the potential to improve both education and combat malnutrition. Providing meals to students helps them to focus on school, not hunger. For poorer households, school meals also give an extra incentive to send kids to school.
Lack of clean water, both at home and at school, can affect school attendance. Students, typically girls, miss school if they need to skip school and collect water. Water-related sickness also prevents children from going to class. Sustainable access to water can improve a student’s health and academic success.
Menstruation stands as a huge obstacle that prevents girls from getting an equal education. Without access to sanitary products or safe places to change them, millions of girls will continue to miss school regularly during menstruation, or even drop out as a result.
A $6 uniform may seem like a small thing, but it makes a big difference. A randomized evaluation found that girls who had uniforms were significantly more likely to stay in school. Access to simple necessities like clothing have the power to create big change in a student’s future.
With all the obstacles that stand in the way, students may feel like they don’t have the right to learn. This is especially true for girls who face societal pressure against staying in school. In a 2016 survey of girls in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, low self-esteem was the second most frequent reason for girls dropping out of school. In order to get kids back into school, they don’t only need access to a school. Children deserve the support needed to get an education.
In many parts of the world, all of these needs are covered – and rightfully so. We can’t stop until all children have an equal chance at getting an education and building their futures.