SEATTLE — Since its founding in 1945, the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) has reached 94 countries in which it supports roughly 1,000 poverty reduction and humanitarian aid projects. Since 1994, education has become one of CARE’s primary focuses. Initially, it began by building schools and providing schools and students with supplies.
The organization has since expanded to identifying and cultivating the critical skills children in developing countries need to succeed in and outside the classroom. In 2016, CARE expanded access to quality education in developing countries to reach 3.8 million people.
Despite the progress that has been made since 2000, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that nearly 263 million children and youth are out of school. It is projected that 25 million children will never have the chance to attend school.
According to Katherine Begley, senior technical advisor for education at CARE, it is necessary for a relief agency like CARE to step in and help address the inequities that threaten access to education around the world.
“Education can play a critical, life-changing role in lifting families and communities out of poverty,” Begley said. “Investing in education in developing countries has the power to substantially increase income and economic growth and empower populations to exercise their rights and promote social justice.”
In order to further expand access to education in developing countries, CARE has partnered with national governments, local communities and organizations on the local, national and international levels. Together, they work to develop innovative approaches to addressing the socioeconomic factors that prevent people, particularly from the most marginalized populations, from receiving a quality education.
In partnering with organizations such as Educate a Child and Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), CARE has aimed to increase enrollment, retention and completion of primary school for children in Haiti and Somalia. After just 18 months in Somalia, a CARE project supporting teacher professional development saw a significant increase in girls’ literacy scores and performance in grades four and five. With ROTA, CARE has also worked to ensure access to primary and secondary education for children in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.
With multilingual education programs in countries like Peru, CARE has ensured that ethnic minority children also have access to education. As a result, the organization has seen the percent of students passing standard math tests in Peru increase from 1.3 percent to 37 percent.
CARE also believes that the education of girls, in particular, to be of great importance when it comes to eradicating global poverty. “The return on investment is particularly strong for girls’ education,” Begley said. “Girls who are educated are more likely to delay marriage, have healthier children, and to educate their children in the future, playing an important role in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.”
Currently, according to UNESCO, 15 million girls of primary school age worldwide will never have the chance to attend school, compared to nearly 10 million boys in the same age range. In sub-Saharan Africa, nine million girls are estimated to never attend school, and approximately five million girls in Southern Asia are excluded from receiving an education.
CARE believes that by continuing to promote quality education with strategic partnerships, it will further its goal of bettering in-school performance and preparedness for work, especially for at-risk adolescents and girls.
“These actions will help to generate and capture evidence which will be used to support local, regional, and global policy advocacy efforts with a focus on policy creation,” Begley said. The organization’s goal is to focus policies on addressing issues that prevent millions of girls and adolescents from accessing education so they will one day be able to contribute to their communities and pursue their aspirations.
– Amanda Quinn