Education is a right. Although enshrined in the Convention on Human Rights, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, some 61 million primary-school-age children are still denied this right. In most cases, poverty prevents children from attending school. Many children, especially girls, still drop out of school to work and contribute to family income. The principle reasons for low school attendance in poor, rural areas are costs, difficulty of access, and a low value placed on education.
"When my dad died I had to quit school so that I could help my mom and grandmother. I started to sell in the market so that we could eat. If I don't make money, we don't eat. I like being out all day at the market with my friends, but I miss school more." - SOS Children's Villages Focus Group, Sierra Leone
SOS Children's Villages places central value back on education and works to provide educational assistance to children growing up in our Children's Villages, those participating in any form of Family Strengthening Programs, and all vulnerable children and young people in the communities we work in. Education is a key investment in the future of families as it contributes to social cohesion, economic growth, and individual fulfillment.
In Europe, children and teens who live in SOS Children's Villages attend local schools and make use of existing education and training facilities. However, outside of Europe, local education systems are often inadequate due to a lack of state assistance and funds. Of the 61 million children out of school in 2010, almost half were in sub-Saharan Africa while a quarter were in Southern Asia. 122 million reading-age children worldwide are still unable to read and write a short, simple statement about their everyday lives.
Contributing to educational issues is a lack of well-qualified teachers. UNESCO estimates that the poorest countries need to recruit almost 2 million teachers by 2015, a number that cannot possibly be met at this time. SOS is combating this lack of qualified teachers by providing teacher trainings at SOS facilities. During these trainings potential teachers learn how to create a child-centered, holistic, safe, and inclusive classroom environment.
In some cases, educational support from SOS may mean simply providing access to education, for instance by assisting children and families to meet school fees and the costs of school supplies and uniforms. In other cases, where school facilities are not available, SOS Children's Villages runs kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and vocational centers. All Hermann Gmeiner Schools - often regarded as model schools in the country of their location – promote a holistic, rights-based approach to education. SOS Children’s Villages believes that educational systems which respects the individual child as a resourceful, unique human being will keep children motivated to stay in school and will prepare them for later life.