The last week of August is usually the start of school in our area of Wisconsin. Many kids attend just three days before the Labor Day weekend. These few days are a good practice for the kids to get prepared for the early mornings to get dressed and eat before heading out to the bus, walking or getting dropped off at school.
This is also when I get my reminder to continue to support my six students in Liberia through the Girl Power Africa organization. I have been donating money for several years so these children can go to school, eat a lunch, and have shoes, a uniform and a slate to write on. They also receive medicine for deworming. These are children who live in extreme poverty, and many have lost one or both parents due to war, lack of healthcare or death because of living conditions.
I know how important a good education is, and without it, we lose children’s ability to become people who could change the world. I was curious about how many children in the world are not able to go to school; searching the internet, I came across this information.
Just two decades ago, one person in 10 could read or write globally. Today, it has increased to 9 of 10. That is a great accomplishment. Of the world’s 787 million children of primary school age, 8% do not go to school. That is 58.4 million children.
Why are so many children not in school? One major reason is violence in the world’s ongoing conflict areas, including Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Nigeria. Half of all out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries.
The other large barrier, often closely intertwined with conflict, is poverty. In low-income countries, public finances for education are very low. An example would be that the annual spending in a high-income country like Austria is more than 200 times higher per student than in a low-income country like the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the worst cases, poverty requires children to work, and this means they leave school early or never enter school in the first place.
To make progress on education, we need to continue the developments that reduce conflict and poverty. One policy with a well-established track record is to provide free meals in school. School meals achieve two goals at the same time: They are offering children a better diet, and they provide an incentive for parents to send their children to school. Research studies have shown that the school meals increase school attendance and have a long-lasting impact over the child’s lifetime.
Widespread access to even the most basic education is a recent achievement. As is so often the case with global problems, the state of the world today is terrible yet also much better than it was in the past. Twenty years ago, 16% of children were not in school.
I sent my sponsorship check a few weeks back and have been watching the Girl Power Africa website to see how many students are waiting for sponsors. Messaging directly to the organizer, she said they are making exceptions to take donations that come in the next few days. They have 139 children waiting to see if they will be able to go to school this year.
Tina Hinchley, her husband,  Duane, and their daughter, Anna, milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin.  The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.