My dad always told me that nothing in life is free. Turns outâ€¦he was right.
In 2000, the United Nations declared Universal Primary Education as a Millennium Development Goal, one of eight targets that the UN hopes to achieve by 2015. Simply stated? Universal Primary Education, or UPE, refers to the goal of enrolling every child in the world in primary school. Currently, 1/3 of all school-age children do not finish primary school and 12% never even start. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 38 million young people are out of schoolâ€”thatâ€™s 29% of the youth population.
What are we doing about it?
Over the past ten years, hundreds of countries around the world have taken steps towards achieving UPE by implementing national programs guaranteeing a free primary education to every child. Unfortunately, many of those countries have simply lacked the resources necessary to meet the demand. Case in point: Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world with nearly half of its population under the age of 15. Ahead of the curve, Uganda initiated its own UPE program in 1997 but, today, they are far behind schedule. According to the World Bank, Uganda needs to build 4,988 classrooms annually between now and 2015 to provide enough classroom space for all if its students. Currently, about 2,786 are built each year.
Whatâ€™s the big deal with primary school?
The benefits of UPE are widely recognized. Access to a safe learning environment and a basic primary education is integral to the development of a child. Going to school is no longer just about learning math, science, english and history. At school, children learn how to take care of themselves and stay healthy, how to think for themselves; they have access to a network of supporters and mentors and some schools even offer job and technical training.
Moral of the story?
UPE is a great idea. But someone has to be willing to pay for it.
In America, weâ€™re lucky. A lot of resources have gone into providing the opportunities we all-too-often take for grantedâ€¦resources that simply arenâ€™t available in many areas of the world. The good news is it doesnâ€™t take much to change that.
So, a question for you: What exactly does an education cost? www.calculateit.org
Building Tomorrow just launched a new online tool enabling anyone that went to school in the US to quickly & easily calculate the cost of their elementary education. All it takes is entering the year you were born and the state where you went to school.
Long story short?
I calculated the cost of my 1st through 7th grade education in the US and it was $51,077.
The cost of 1st through 7th grade for a Building Tomorrow student in Uganda is $350.
$350: 9 days at my school, 7 years at theirs. Now thatâ€™s a bit of perspective.
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