February 14, 2018

"Roses are red, learning is cool ... 14 reasons why we love school"

Students play outside at Kalbajar School in Azerbaijan

Photo credit: World Bank

February 14 is Valentine's Day - we hear from students (and a teacher) about why their heart and their passion lies in education.

Some of them have overcome remarkable odds just to get into a classroom. Others are inspiring because they believe so strongly in the importance of knowledge and learning.

So on this Valentine's Day we put aside romantic rhymes and fancy flowers and listen to the voices of some of those we have featured in Their News in the past year - 14 people who simply love being at school.

1. "Bottle schools are beautiful - because we all make them together."​

It takes around 6500 eco-bricks to build a two-classroom school. This means that everybody in the community has to participate in order to turn the dream of a bottle school into reality

Photo credit: Hug It Forward

Beverly, a student from Chutiabajal, Guatemala, goes to a school made out of plastic bottles stuffed with non-recyclable rubbish.

"Before, in the corrugated metal school, it was very cold," she said Beverly. "When it rained, the water would get in and our books would get wet. Now we really like coming to school."

Read more.

2. “I am so determined and passionate about learning."

Majd is a Palestinian student at a school run by the UN agency UNRWA. 

The future of more than 700 schools in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria is in doubt after the United States slashed its funding for the agency.

Read more.

3. "I am very happy to get my set of new textbooks on the very first day at school."

Every school girl and boy gets free text books on the first day back at school

Photo credit: Facebook / Bakul Mahmud

Rimon, a  student at the Government Laboratory High School and College in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, said: "The first thing I will do after reaching home is see what's in the books.”

Across the country, an incredible 354 million books were distributed to more than 43 million primary and secondary students on Textbook Festival Day last month.

Read more.

4. “I'm so glad we're back at school to be able to pass exams because all this will determine the course of my life.”

Children in Mosul need continued support to return to and stay in school

Photo credit: UNICEF

Ali Salem, 18, returned to school three years after Islamic State disrupted education in Mosul, Iraq.

Along with thousands of other adolescents, Ali is now having to repeat exams to gain the school system’s certificate.

Read more.

5. "The food at school is delicious - I usually eat fried rice at home."

A nutritious school meal is vital for millions of children.

Photo credit: National Nutrition Programme for School Children

Safari, 11, gets a free meal at her school in Serang, Indonesia - it is often the only meal she has.

In Indonesia, one in three children between the ages of six and 14 do not eat enough nutritious food, says the World Food Programme.

Read more.

6. "My mission is to make kids enjoy reading, studying and protecting planet Earth.”

The seven-year-old is the youngest ever winner of the coveted NASA award

Photo credit: João Paulo Guerra Barrera / Facebook

Seven-year-old João Paulo Guerra Barrera was named one of the "Brazilians of the Year 2017" for his work in promoting education through his love of space.

João Paulo gives talks at schools, has written a book, created a computer game and received an award from NASA.

Read more.

7. “Children need to be educated because we are the future. That's what I think about when I walk to school and it helps me overcome my fear."

South Sudan's children are risking death to go to school

Photo credit: UNICEF / Modola

Martha, 18, has a four-hour journey every day to school in South Sudan - a quarter of which is spent wading through a treacherous swamp with crocodiles and pythons.

But she steps confidently into the chest-deep marsh, her clothes drenched and her feet sinking into the slippery mud as she holds her schoolbag above her head to keep it dry.

Read more.

8. "I have always known an education will open many opportunities for me."

Joyce Kawira (holding baby) with her parents at their home at Ithune, Tigania West Sub County, Meru

Photo credit: Joyce Kawira

Joyce Kawira returned to school in Kenya after dropping out to have a baby.

She said she takes time to talk with young girls, encouraging them not to have premature sex.

Read more.

9. “Better late than never!”

A Syrian boy studies outside a learning centre in Aleppo

Photo credit: UNICEF /Al-Issa

Seventeen-year-old Rami is one of thousands of adolescents living near Damascus who are catching up on lost time after missing out on school for years.

An estimated 7.5 million children are growing up in Syria knowing nothing but war. 

Read more.

10. “Our new school will have a computer lab, library and will support children with disabilities.”

The nation is slowly rebuilding and many children are returning to school

Photo credit: Theirworld

Manju is a 14-year-old girl from Dolakha district in Nepal.

Her school was hit by the 2015 earthquake that destroyed or damaged more than 8500 schools.

Read more.

11. "From an early age, I knew that it was possible to achieve anything I set my mind to."

Goldalyn Kakuya is a 14-year-old albino girl who made headlines when she scored the highest mark in Kenya's hotly-contested national primary school exams.

Many children with the disorder drop out of school because they are mocked for their appearance and there are not enough provisions for their poor eyesight, experts say. But Goldalyn took the challenges in her stride.

Read more.

12. “ I passed Grade 9 exams - my happiness was beyond words."

Rama described hearing bombs going off as she made her way to school to complete exams in Syria

Photo credit: UNICEF / Al-issa

Syrian girl Rama made two difficult and dangerous journeys to take her exams.

She said: "The trip was difficult. We had to cross several checkpoints and a river on foot, but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that the determination to follow my dreams and my parents’ encouragement won over fatigue and hopelessness.”

Read more.

13. “I work hard to make the classroom fun and teach many of the lessons in a playful way.”

Happiness is a 21-year-old teacher at Machimbo pre-primary school in Tanzania

Photo credit: BRAC

Happiness Oswald is a 21-year-old teacher at a pre-primary School in Tanzania. 

She has 33 children in her class aged from four to six.

Read more.

14. "I’m determined to keep studying for as long as possible and get a great job - just to show the world that one of us could do it.”

14-year-old Punita from Nepal learned about the harm of child marriage from a UN-supported programme. All of her sisters had left school early to get married

Theirworld featured her story on Valentine's Day last year - telling how Punita wants to become a teacher.

Read more.

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