October 10, 2017

"Education can be a powerful tool to change the lives of children from poorer backgrounds"

Enock Nkuranga

Global Youth Ambassador from Uganda

One of our Global Youth Ambassadors from Uganda tells how he is helping disadvantaged children get access to quality education, good health and skills development.

I work for African Children’s Mission. Their goal is to ensure every child receives a quality education at elementary, high school and college level. 

I consider myself fortunate as I get to work with and for children by designing programmes that impact their everyday lives. 

We are rewriting the story and redefining the narrative for over 300 children across the 13 schools we are working with. 

We also feed over 2000 children with a nutritious meal each school day and have expanded access to clean, safe drinking water to schools and communities, as well as make sure that every child receives medical care. 

We want to ensure that every child flourishes through receiving an education, staying healthy and developing the skills they need to become an agent of change in the communities and nations they are part of. 

I lead a charity that supports children from disadvantaged backgrounds to receive an education and now I want to work towards every child receiving a quality education. 

UNICEF’s new global report on early childhood development states that “the period from conception to the start of school opens a critical and singular window of opportunity to shape the development of a child’s brain’’. 

Shockingly, governments around the world spend less than an estimated 2% of their education budgets on early childhood programmes. 

Children at a school run by the African Children's Mission in Uganda

Photo credit: Facebook / African Children's Mission

The numbers are staggering:

  • Children from poor households who receive high-quality stimulation at a young age earn an average of 25% more as adults than those who do not. 
  • Around 155 million children suffer from stunted growth and even more are suffering from poor nutrition. 
  • 246 million children live in conflict zones and of these 75 million are younger than five years old. 
  • Toxic air, unsafe water and and lack of sanitation cause the deaths of 1.7 million under-fives every year.
  • 300 million children now live in toxic environments. 

These are not just numbers, they are children. 

These children remind me of me. As a child I was often told that I was worthless, alone and that life would not change or improve for me. These words left me broken and frustrated but they are not true! 

I want to highlight that children from poorer backgrounds are at a disadvantage but education can be a powerful tool to change lives.

Coming from poverty can perpetuate intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and inequality. If it wasn’t for hard work and early education that stimulated my love of learning, I probably wouldn’t have the aspirations, goals and skills I do now.  

The impact of early education can last a lifetime and every child deserves access to this. 

The time is NOW! We can’t achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 alone - we need to multiply efforts to make sure every child receives a quality education in a safe, supportive environment with nutritious meals and healthcare. 

Linked to this is the need to eradicate poverty, conflict, reduce pollution and increase government funding for early childhood development programmes. 

I believe in children. We all need to believe in children.

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