Closing the Education Gap

15 July 2016

The twenty-first century is an age like no other. Globalisation and growing technologies are producing an interconnectedness that the world has never seen before. In some ways, this interconnectedness highlights similarities among humans throughout the globe. We all strive for stability and cherish the safety of our families. However, globalisation has allowed for rapid collection of data, bringing some disturbing trends to light. Throughout the world there is one trend that is affecting every state and every society: the gap between the rich and poor is widening. This trend can be observed in the job sector, the housing options, the tax system, but most importantly it is apparent in the education sector. Education is the tool with which the rich have suppressed the poor throughout history. Without education, social mobility is impossible; those in poverty will be stuck in poverty.

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The Toilet Crisis: inequality and the right to sanitation

11 July 2016

In January 2014, people around the world were horrified to learn that a young boy had drowned after falling in a pit latrine at his school in the Limpopo province in South Africa. Although not the first of its kind, the horrifying event raised awareness of the realities that exist for many South African schools. It is not uncommon for schools and Early Childhood Development Centres to lack flushing toilets, leading to sanitation issues and a grave lack of privacy for the children. There is often no sink for washing hands and no accommodations for female students during menstruation. Class time is wasted while students wait in line to use toilets, which often only consist of a pit in the ground. Many of the ECD centres that Breadline Africa has worked with lack these basic amenities and faculty constantly stress their dire need for new infrastructure. Toilets may not be the first necessity that donors think of when they decide to provide aid, but it is one of the most important.

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Empowerment Through Mushrooms

9 July 2016

Throughout South Africa, men and women have been finding work on farms for centuries. However, the “lack of growth in employment in the commercial agriculture sector” combined with rigorous working conditions and low pay are taking a toll on seasonal farm workers (Davies). According to Mercia Andrews’ article “Sleeping giant is stirring: Farm workers in South Africa,” the minimum wage that these workers expect is “one of the lowest in South Africa’s formal employment sector.” The transition to democracy brought about regulations for the treatment of farm workers but many times these new developments and promotions are reserved only for men (Shabodien). Combine these elements with the pressure to raise a family and you receive a glimpse of the enormous strain that women farm workers are under. Clearly, the insecurity that surrounds the lives of seasonal farm workers is heightened for women – but when money is needed for survival, what other option is there?

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Ending the Cycle of Illiteracy

7 July 2016

The ability to read is invaluable. It is the underlying skill that drives schools, businesses and governments throughout the world. If the importance of literacy is universally acknowledged, why is it that so little money is directed towards improving it? It’s no secret that South Africa has room for improvement in terms of reading skills; only 35% of children can read by the age of 12. And according to the Department of Economics at the University of Stellenbosch, “South Africa’s economy would be 23-30% larger if we had a fully literate population” (Harrison, 2015). However, acquiring universal literacy is not an easy task, especially if there aren’t concrete efforts during primary school years. These years are critical for brain development, making it much easier for a child to acquire a new skill. If these critical years are missed, it is much more difficult for a person to learn to read later in life.

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