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How does quality education factor into sustainable development?

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo

Posted: September 26, 2022

5 min read

 

Education and prosperity go hand in hand. When everyone has access to quality education, nations can develop. The value of learning is enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 4, which outlines the need for fair and inclusive education. 

Education underpins all sustainable development activities in some form. That’s why UN SDG 4 is covered in many of GVI’s projects, including those focused on women’s empowerment, gender equality, entrepreneurship, healthcare, justice, diversity and inclusion. All of these include aspects of teaching and development. This UN SDG is more directly addressed in our teaching programs.

Here’s a closer look at the importance of education, and what GVI is doing to contribute towards this goal.

 

Education and poverty

Access to quality education is a significant factor in reducing poverty, as it increases income for individuals and boosts economic growth, according to the World Bank.

It has also been shown to have an impact on health, reducing maternal deaths, child marriage, and rates of HIV and AIDS. When education isn’t freely available, poverty continues its cycle, and individuals are left vulnerable and without options.

According to a recent UN report, “The COVID-19 outbreak has caused a global education crisis. School closures have affected girls, children from disadvantaged backgrounds, those living in rural areas, children with disabilities and children from ethnic minorities more than their peers.”

Worldwide, 103 million young people lack basic literacy skills, according to the UN. Without a basic level of literacy and numeracy, it’s harder to access work opportunities. 

 

How can we work to achieve quality education for all?

Countries around the world have seen leaps forward in education over the last two decades. Since 2000, the percentage of primary age children not in school has dropped by almost half. However, the key targets of UN SDG four are still a long way from being met.

Targets for achieving inclusive and quality education include making sure all children have access to free primary and secondary education, and care. All adults should also have access to affordable tertiary or vocational training by 2030.

Another key target is eliminating disparities in education and making sure people of all genders, abilities, ethnicities, and other vulnerable people have access to learning opportunities.

 

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GVI addresses all these UN SDG four targets, primarily through teaching, women’s empowerment and gender equality programs.

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Our commitment to quality education and sustainable development, with the help of dedicated volunteers, has already seen our programs make strides toward goal four.

Besides teaching programs, community development projects also help make inroads in education. Obstacles to quality education also include poor infrastructure – only 34% of primary schools in 2016 had electricity, according to the UN.

Volunteer construction projects that contribute to schools having adequate buildings, water, and electricity are also important.  

 

Teaching abroad ethically

Sustainable development is not possible without strong ethical guidelines. Part of GVI’s commitment to providing inclusive and equitable education is ensuring that volunteer teaching programs are held to high ethical standards.

 

 

International volunteers can play an active role in helping to reach UN SDG four. Teaching English abroad in developing communities is an opportunity for education volunteers to provide a valuable skill. 

 

However, as with all volunteer programs, this can be either impactful or poorly conceived and ultimately damaging. For example, there is some debate over whether or not teaching English abroad involves imposing a language onto a community under the false belief that English is a “better” language. This insensitivity to a community’s actual needs creates harm. Then there are issues around foreigners taking part in schooling very young children when they have no prior experience or training.

When GVI facilitates English teaching programs abroad, it is at the request of local communities. The goal is to provide skills that help to empower individuals to improve their circumstances, and to increase teaching capacity in often overcrowded classrooms. For example, many of our community partners are eager to learn English to enable themselves to tap into budding tourist markets.

In these instances, English lessons are considered a development tool because they enable further opportunities, not because English is a superior language. 

All of our teaching work is aligned with early childhood development best practice. Volunteers go through background checks and are given extensive training before working with children or vulnerable adults.

GVI makes sure the welfare of children is paramount. As a volunteer with GVI, you can be confident that your actions will have long-term sustainable benefits for the communities and individuals you work with.

Through GVI’s teaching volunteer projects, you can be a part of the solution to bring schooling and training to regions with fewer teaching resources – actively helping to reach one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

 

 

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

By Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
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