✘ We have seen children walking barefoot in dirty and ripped clothing. Hardly any children could afford a uniform and almost all use carrier bags as backpacks.
✘We have seen overcrowded and multi-graded classrooms (2 to 3 grades in one classroom). There are not enough teachers or resources to teach all the children at the level of education they need.
✘We saw classrooms and extensions created out of dry grass and wooden sticks.
✘We saw entire schools, including teaching staff, sharing one “toilet” – a hole in the ground. We were shocked by the standards of living and the learning environments.
✘We saw children walking for HOURS to get to school through very dangerous environments – very busy roads, jungle, bushes – exposed to attack.
None of the schools we visited had electricity, basic hygiene or access to water. Only one school was being provided with government support. Buildings were inadequate, often put up 10 or 20 years ago by INGOs or foreigners. Local communities have often taken it upon themselves to put up a block.
We have also seen hundreds, if not thousands, of school-aged children that do not access education mainly due to poverty and inability to meet the costs. There are children working in the fields and teenage mothers raising children and looking after homes instead of being in school.
We met wonderful people: exceptional teachers that do double shifts and run additional classes voluntarily on Saturdays to meet the demand and ensure children can learn and achieve good grades; self-sufficient communities that, despite having zero income, have taken it upon themselves to support education as best as they can.
We have been totally overwhelmed by how generous and welcoming the community has been. We have had hearts and homes opened up to us despite how little these people have materially.
Education is not only a basic human right, it is an engine for poverty eradication, and a force for peace. UN SDG, 2019