01 March 2019

International day of education: breaking the cycle of poverty

“Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. Education plays a key role in building sustainable and resilient societies and contributes to the achievement of all other sustainable development goals. Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.” (UNESCO).

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education. Today, Hope and Homes for Children wants to highlight the impact that institutions (orphanages) have on educational outcomes.

Lourenza Foghill, Regional Development Officer for Hope and Homes for Children in South Africa, explains how for children living in institutions the access to schools is even worse:

“The vast majority of South Africans live in poverty, and have to rely on State schools, where the quality of education is shockingly poor. For children living in institutions, access to schools is even worse. For example, the children living in the Don Mattera institution (one of our target institutions), have to attend the ‘school’ that is on the institution grounds. This was put in place because none of the State schools in Edenvale community were willing to accept children resident at Don Mattera CYCC. This ‘school’ at Don Mattera offers education from Grade 1 to Grade 7 only. Moreover, children only attend school for 2 hours per day, because this “fits better with the orphanage schedule.” Despite the Bill of Rights (Section 28 of the South African Constitution), as well as various other legislative instruments which guarantee ‘every child the right to quality, inclusive education,’ State schools often turn children away who are from poor backgrounds, because of their inability to pay for books.”

The message on the occasion of the International Day of Education by Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General, is very clear:

“This day is the occasion to reaffirm fundamental principles. Firstly, education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. Secondly, education is the most powerful force in our hands to ensure significant improvements in health, to stimulate economic growth, to unlock the potential and innovation we need to build more resilient and sustainable societies. Lastly, we urgently need to call for collective action for education at global level.”

Education for the Future: a Project Benefiting Children and Young People in Vulnerable Groups

Education for the Future is a European funded project jointly run by Hope and Homes for Children Romania, currently taking place to increase access and participation to education for over a thousand vulnerable children and young adults in Romania.

The project general aim is to increase access and participation to education for 840 children aged 2 to 16, in vulnerable groups, and for 200 young people/adults who have not finalised their compulsory education, through prevention, intervention and compensation measures, based on a customised education plan, in an integrated approach that includes parents/guardians or staff involved in the education project.

Our Work: Prevention and Community Hub

Hope and Homes for Children has played a pioneering role in developing and implementing deinstitutionalisation and child protection reform in both Central and Eastern Europe and East and Southern Africa.

The focus of our work is not solely about moving children out of institutions; it also involves supporting families so they can stay together and creating the services that ensure children do not need to enter institutions.

Furthermore, part of our work is to develop Community Hubs in very deprived communities, enabling us to scale up the impact of our interventions.

The Community Hubs are resource centres for the entire community, sustainable at local level and providing specialised services as required. Programmes for young children, time off for parents and carers, vocational and adult learning for young people, a place to meet for support groups for people living with HIV and Aids, for community meetings, recreational activities for children and young people and delivery of other services such as health checks, vaccinations, health trainings, pre-school education. Gardens of Nutrition provide fresh vegetables for the participants in the programme and for other people identified by the community.