2015 Child Rights Essay Competition: 1st Place, Group 2 (Grades 9-12)
Mehreen Pasha – Cheshire, CT / Choate Rosemary Hall
It is difficult to fathom that the insightful words of Harper Lee or Charles Dickens will never be cherished by the average teenager in the infamous abyss that is the Developing World. These countries have reached an impasse on the road to economic stability and overall success as a nation. The source of these issues is not simply poverty or child labor, but rather what is perpetuating both of these issues: a lack of proper education. Whether it is the absence of school facilities themselves or the notion that women do not have the right to receive proper schooling, a lack of education is what has plagued the youth growing up in countries like India and Pakistan for generations. As Americans who sought the American Dream, it is our responsibility to help the next generation in third world countries achieve their dream. While it may not be possible to change the mentality that limits women’s educational pursuits, constructing schools and enabling children to sit and learn in a classroom is the first step.
First and foremost, it is essential to understand that a lack of education is what is throwing a slew of promising youth into the vicious cycle of child labor and poverty. Most families face the same dilemma: obtaining basic necessities is a day-to-day struggle. Oftentimes, the parents of such families were not able to attend schools themselves. Impoverished families often resort to “selling” their children to large companies that rely on manual labor, with little pay in return. It is no surprise that over 57 million children worldwide are not receiving primary education (unicefusa.org), with 70% of Pakistan’s out-of-school children never having seen the inside of a classroom (dawn.com). As these out of school children grow up, they lack the proper knowledge and skills needed to obtain steady jobs, causing them to resume laborious tasks for the rest of their lives. This will only thrust the cycle of poverty, child labor, and lack of education upon the next generation. A shortage of educated people being put in the workforce will result in less teachers, doctors, and other professionals needed in high demand by any functioning society. In addition, while the absence of schools is a major issue, the preexisting schools face challenges themselves, with inadequate books, supplies, and teachers. Schools are often left unprotected, jeopardizing the lives of those who simply seek to learn. It is only with the resolution of this education crisis, by building new schools and providing proper resources to preexisting ones, that third world countries can eradicate child labor and poverty.
One may be asking, where will these new schools come from? If one charity is responsible for producing hundreds of schools, this goal is quite daunting. Starting a government program in which towns across America can join in the effort to educate third world children is the most efficient way to tackle this issue. Essentially, every participating town can establish a fund in which residents raise money over the course of a year. Once at least thirty thousand dollars are raised, which, according to buildOn, is enough to establish one school, a local high school can create a club that will deal with the construction of that school. High schoolers and town residents will have the opportunity to build on site and meet the local children being benefited. The town’s elementary and middle schools can even engage in a pen pal program with the students of the new school. By fostering a connection between America’s youth and the children of developing countries, students of America will be more inclined to assist with education, health, and basic human rights in the future. Later on, people can send packages to students containing the necessary school supplies to support them for an entire year. Lastly, in order to encourage the participation of towns, it is vital that an incentive is put in place, such as an increase in funds for public schools in these towns. Overall, if each town in America pledges to fund one school or even one library, there would be tens of thousands of new schools being established in impoverished countries worldwide.
This program will leave a positive mark on both the children of third world countries and average Americans. Children in some of the poorest nations in the world will get a second chance at life: an education. This will, in turn, begin to dismantle the cycle of poverty. In addition, more schools will equate to a higher demand for teachers, thus generating jobs and benefiting the economy. The positive effects of this initiative, however, span farther than the borders of the Developing World. It is evident that towns who participate in the program will receive extra funding for public school systems. In addition, high schoolers will gain valuable leadership experience and be exposed to the many issues around the world that they will one day be responsible to resolve. Colleges and workplaces value young men and women who assume leadership positions for causes that they are passionate about, and this program is the ideal outlet. Additionally, the elementary and middle school children who will engage in the pen pal program will get a glimpse at the lives of children their age thousands of miles away, serving as an enriching experience for them to gain transcultural exposure.
Every child, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, or race should be entitled to an education. Without giving the children of third world countries the chance at an education, we, as leaders on the world stage, have failed. By initiating a program in which towns across America can join in the effort to educate the children of the Developing World, the future generations will aspire to make something of themselves. As eloquently stated by Malala, the Pakistani women’s education activist, “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” Let us give these children the tools they need to be the next Malala and change the world.
Desk, Web. “‘One Child, One Teacher, One Book and One Pen Can Change the World'” The Express Tribune . The Express Tribune News Network, 12 July 2013. Web. 13 Sept. 2015. http://tribune.com.pk/story/576089/one-child-one-teacher-one-book-and-one-pen-can-change-the-world/.
“Education and Schools.” UNICEF USA . UNICEF, n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. http://www.unicefusa.org/mission/protect/education.
“Home.” BuildOn . BuildOn, n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. http://www.buildon.org/.
“Stand with Malala.” UNICEF USA . UNICEF, n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. http://www.unicefusa.org/mission/protect/education/standmalala.
“10 Alarming Statistics about Pakistan’s Out-of-school Children.” Dawn.com . Dawn, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. http://www.dawn.com/news/1139423.