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Lack of Job Training – a Barrier to achieving Universal Education.

November 3, 2008

On December 10th 1948, United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and proclaimed the access to education as a right.

Immense progress has been made since then and majority of the governments across the world have passed laws to make universal education compulsory. However today, about six decades later, UNICEF estimates that 862 million people are still illiterate.

93 million primary school-age children are out of school and, the numbers are higher for older children with only 60% of secondary school-aged children in school.

Children enrolled in schools have some distinct advantages. Apart from providing education, schools  offer children a safe environment, with support, supervision and socialization. Many schools may provide life-saving vaccines, fresh water and nutrient supplementation to the children.

With all these and many other advantages, universal education might seem a relatively straightforward goal, but it has proven as difficult as any to achieve.

Lack of job training as a part of the curriculum is one of the core issues that contribute to these high illiteracy levels. Most children who are out of school have uneducated parents who do not understand the importance of education “What will he learn at school? I can teach him important skills if he joins me at work”. This is what the average uneducated parent would say about his child’s education. This attitude leads to most kids accompanying their parents to work instead of going to school. For them time spent at school can be used to contribute to family income or to learn skills that would make them financially productive in future.

Many pundits concede that education is only a partial cure to poverty. The fact is that children graduating from high school do not have any specific skills to earn a living and since, most of the poor cannot afford college education, they do not see the purpose of completing high school or going to school in general. Julie Strawn of the Center for Law and Social Policy agrees. After reviewing an extensive sample of basic education and training programs, Strawn concluded that education alone is much less successful in raising employment and earnings prospects than education combined with a strategy of focused job training with an eye on local demand.

To attract the poor, school curriculum should be made more practical. Job training relevant to the local population should be introduced. Rural kids for example, should be taught about the latest farming techniques while the poor urban kids could benefit from learning about machinery or carpentry. One Portland, Oregon, program resulted in a 25 percent increase in earnings, a 21 percent increase in employment, and a 22 percent reduction of time spent on welfare when the curriculum included job training.

A child who is educated is empowered to escape from poverty but helping poor receive education is only a part of the answer. Ultimately, children need to learn skills which will reward them in future. Thus, it important for the governments across the world to work with the local agencies and decide on specific curriculum for each region. Although, this may seem difficult in the beginning, it will attract more kids to school and provide skilled labor for the future. This could be an important step towards achieving the UN millennium development goal of universal education by 2015.

-Shamala Pulugurtha

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never make it to 5th grade. It is our goal to make this percentage drop significantly.

$30/month is what it takes us at Empowerment International to put a child in school. If you would like to help a child stay in school and get better life, please click on the link below or contact us

Donate at Change.org

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