“I am happy! I can go to school…”
What does school mean to children in places where education isn’t guaranteed?
The school holidays have finally arrived: a break from the routine of homework, packed lunches, parents’ evenings, school trips, swimming lessons... If you’re breathing a sigh of relief, you won’t be alone. Children up and down the country are cheering at the thought of no school for six weeks!
In some parts of the world, though, children would be cheering if school was on!
The children World Vision works with live in some of the hardest places, where school and education often comes second place to survival.
In many of these countries, the global hunger crisis is forcing families to make difficult choices just to be able to eat. Choices that often involve child labour or child marriage – both of which ease the financial burden but at a great cost to children’s wellbeing and education.
Because of World Vision’s generous supporters, struggling families can keep their children in school.
READ MORE: Battling hunger in displacement camps
The eldest of her siblings, Solang, 14, is small and underdeveloped because life has been difficult.
In order to survive, her family would regularly migrate to different parts of Cambodia searching for work. Because of this, Solang missed out on school. Instead, she would work long hours in a factory, collecting metal for less than £2 a day.
A way back to school
But things have changed in Solang’s community. A World Vision project has reduced the need for migration, enabling families to start small businesses and keep their children in school.
Solang’s family received hens and chicks, along with materials for housing and caring for them. They were also provided with life skills training and support to build a regular income.
Now Solang is back in school and the family has enough food. If they need money for medicine or other things, they can sell one of the chickens.
Solang’s mum, Sokheng, no longer needs to leave her home to find work. "If we still migrate,” she says, “my children will have poor knowledge, so I am changing my mind. I don't want them to follow me because I didn’t get an education, and I will try my best to let my children graduate at least high school."
Solang is excited about school. Even though she is a few years behind, she works hard and is seeing good results. She believes education can change her life and help her family.
"I am happy! I can go to school, and I think when having knowledge, I can have a good job to support my parents and family.”
In Zambia, Loveness, 14, dreams of being a doctor, but for a long time this dream felt beyond reach.
“I had no time to study. Most of the time for studying was spent getting water,” she says. Not only did Loveness struggle to find time for homework – the morning walk for water regularly made her late for school.
“When I come late for school, I would find my friends had already learned something,” says Loveness. “I would miss the whole first lesson. I was feeling bad because they will not come back for me to teach me what I missed.”
A lack of clean water also meant Loveness, other students and teachers were missing school after falling ill with water-borne diseases. Absentee rates were high among teenage girls. Without adequate school facilities, and facing ridicule from boys, girls felt unable to attend during their menstrual cycles.
Water for everyone
A few years ago, World Vision installed a mechanised bore hole in the community, giving everyone access to clean, safe water without the laborious walk. Toilets and a private space where girls could wash were also installed at the school.
This meant Loveness could focus on her studies.
“I now have enough time to study. I no longer came late for school,” she says. She’s even able to play games with her siblings and friends. That’s something that she rarely had time to do before.
Loveness’ grades have gone from failing to high. Now her dream looks within sight of being achieved once more.
Help children stay in school
In all the stories we hear of children experiencing hardship through poverty, one of the things they value most – even when they can’t go – is school and the possibilities a good education brings.
A great way to help children stay in school is to sponsor a child. This is particularly valuable for girls, who are often the first to lose out when hardship hits.
Please consider sponsoring a girl today. Together we can make lasting change for children’s futures.