Classroom

Children & Education

Problems and solutions

With so many challenges, it's hard to know where to start.  We start by defining some of the most pressing issues, looking at the data, and learning about evidence based opportunities for change.  

THE PROBLEMS
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Education access and quality
  • Before the pandemic, an estimated 260 million children were out of school around the world, overwhelmingly in low and middle-income countries.

    • If current trends continue, 825 million young people will not have basic literacy, numeracy, and digital skills in 2030.

  • While, in general, access to education has increased globally, quality of learning is still drastically insufficient.

    • Pre-pandemic, an estimated 617 million children and adolescents (more than 55% of the global total) lacked minimum proficiency in reading and math, despite two-thirds of this group regularly attending school.

    • Non-proficiency rates were highest in sub-Saharan Africa where 88% of children (202 million) of primary and secondary school age were not proficient in reading, and 84% (193 million) were not proficient in math.

    • In Central and South Asia, 81% of children (241 million) were not proficient in reading, and 76% (228 million) lacked basic math skills

    • In rural India, three-quarters of third graders cannot solve a two-digit subtraction problem; by fifth grade, half still cannot do so.

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Insufficient teachers and tools
  • A primary driver of educational access inadequacies is a lack of trained teachers: UNESCO estimates that the world will need almost 69 million more teachers by 2030 to meet SDG education goals.

    • In sub-Saharan Africa, 70% of countries have acute shortages of teachers, with 90% of secondary schools facing this problem; this region alone will need 17 million new teachers by 2030 to achieve the goal of universal primary and secondary education.

    • A survey of six sub-Saharan African countries found that high teacher absence leads to students receiving only two hours and fifty minutes of teaching per day, just over half the scheduled time.

  • Lack of access to basic tools and services also hinders learning outcomes.

    • Worldwide, only 69% of primary schools have power (34% in least developed countries).

    • Internet access in primary schools stands at just over 46% worldwide, falling to 16% for least developed countries.

    • 79% of schools have access to clean drinking water, though the rate is just 44% in sub-Saharan Africa.

    • Globally, only 66% of primary schools has basic handwashing facilities, with an average of 44% in least developed countries

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Health and school attendance

Lack of school attendance is often caused by preventable health problems.

  • Example: malaria is estimated to contribute to between 5 and 8% of school absenteeism among African schoolchildren
    • In Kenya, malaria was reported to account for over a third of days missed.

    • Each episode of malaria is responsible for between 2.4 to 6.5 days missed from school.

    • Malaria itself can have a direct impact on intellectual development through impaired attention and cognitive function.

  • Example: parasitic worm infections

    • Two billion people are infected with parasitic worms each year.

    • Deworming, a treatment that costs just 30-40 cents per child, has been associated with improved school attendance both for direct patients and students within a 3km radius due to an improved disease environment.

    • Children who live in dewormed communities have shown increased school attendance and improved test scores, whether or not they were dewormed themselves.​

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THE SOLUTIONS

What can we do about it?

1

Policy reform:
changing policies to promote improved educational outcomes
Advocacy: promoting awareness of global education problems.

2

Advocacy:
promoting awareness of global education problems.

3

Direct intervention:
establishing schools, improving facilities, health interventions, etc. to directly address educational inadequacies.
"The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children. 
Nelson Mandela

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