This time of the year, we are used to seeing back-to-school commercials and kids gearing up for the year ahead. Of course, this year looks different than any other due to the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and the subsequent pivot to distance or hybrid learning. Facilitating isolated learning has been difficult for leaders, parents and teachers everywhere, but it’s posing even more challenges in places where access to education was already difficult before the pandemic.
The coronavirus has disrupted education for 90% of children worldwide – closing school doors for over 1.6 billion students and interrupting learning for an entire generation.
It’s clear that this historic emergency will have consequences for years to come. That’s why Save the Children is calling for governments and donors to respond to the education crisis and providing resources to keep kids learning worldwide through its #SaveOurEducation campaign. The campaign includes an extensive report on the education emergency and recommendations for a plan of action. The plan has four main parts:
- Invest: commit funding to provide resources required to implement the plan.
- Learn: understand the challenges to ensure a well-planned, inclusive, gender responsive and monitored plan that can be held accountable.
- Protect: keep children safe while out of school and when they return.
- Track: coordinate action and monitor progress.
Save the Children’s mission is to give children the future they deserve. The charity champions the rights of children to survive and thrive – and one of the best ways to ensure that is through an education.
Why save education?
Keeping kids learning doesn’t only solve global economic problems – it also prevents many international issues we face today. Unfortunately, it is common for children to be put to work or forced into marriage when they can’t attend school. Once this transition occurs, they rarely are encouraged or have the opportunity to return to school, often trapping them in a cycle of poverty and making them vulnerable to abuse.
But access to school can change this by preparing these children for a better future. Schools also provide resources that they may not have access to at home – like meals, healthcare and safety from gender-based violence.
In short: Keeping children educated today prevents hunger, illness, poverty and inequality in the future.
Providing education during crises
In many parts of the world, children are not always guaranteed access to education. Since the spread of the virus, the danger of physical classes and economic downturn have made it even more of a trial in places where technology is sparse and internet connection hard to find.
As part of their response to COVID-19, Save the Children has developed and distributed over 100,000 learning kits for students, parents and caregivers as a resource. The charity disseminated information and resources through various avenues – like the internet, radio, phone, television and paper – in order to ensure that as many children as possible had easy access, regardless of technological limitations or learning disabilities.
The charity has also distributed over 100,000 learning packs to children in Uganda as part of the #SaveOurEducation campaign. A typical learning pack contains self-study materials, a child-friendly coronavirus safety comic strip, stationery, storybooks, and a wellbeing diary and daily schedule to support children’s mental health.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, this isn’t the first time that Save the Children has worked to keep learning alive despite crises like disease and economic disparities.
One example of this is in Ethiopia. As a book lover myself, I was particularly excited to learn about Save the Children’s camel library, which has delivered books by camel to over 22,000 kids in the region since 2010. The charity has been able to safely continue the program during the pandemic, enabling this unique mobile library to carry 200 storybooks at a time to 33 villages to keep children reading during this crisis.
Currently, almost 10 million children are at risk of never returning to school after the COVID-19 lockdown. Out of those 10 million, girls in particular are more at-risk of being forced into early marriage or labor markets. When you give or volunteer, you are helping develop programs and deliver learning kits to prevent that from happening.
Here are some different ways you can get involved with Save the Children. Encourage family and friends to get involved – you can even rally your coworkers! These ideas are all easily adaptable into any workplace giving campaign (wondering how? Contact us!):
- Respond directly to the Save Our Education Report – tell Save the Children how you’re going to act.
- Help children who are struggling to access education because of the pandemic – fundraise for COVID-19 virtually.
- Make a wish – and donate your birthday!
- Start your own fundraiser. Save the Children even has a Fundraising Guide to help you generate ideas on how to gather support – it includes things that can also be done virtually, like sharing on social media or celebrating a special occasion.
- Check out Save the Children’s Gift Catalog, where you can choose to buy musical instruments, art supplies and more to help children reach a brighter future.
- Unlock your access to our Virtual Employee Giving Hub for engagement tools in the Children’s Corner.
- Check if your company has a matching gifts program – and if they don’t, take initiative and pitch them the idea!
These are just some of the many opportunities to give back and support Save the Children’s work. We encourage you to reach out to us for more information, help strategizing or to get your questions answered.
We also have some great resources available to help you put together a virtual workplace giving strategy with tips from the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and our own campaign, Caring@Work. Check them out on our Give Global Blog:
Distance learning is far from ideal, especially in regions that are less well-equipped for such a change. However, it’s a necessary strategy to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t cost the world’s children their futures. Luckily, we have organizations like Save the Children that are providing learning supplements and other flexible learning strategies all around the world.