I first heard about PAJAAF through the UN Volunteer Database. It caught my attention because of its focus on children’s education. We are always concerned about reducing poverty and, although important, we cannot expect to end the cycle of poverty with short term solutions such as aid or monetary donations. A society can’t elevate itself if children are illiterate and work as unskilled workers.
Although I am not as familiar with the status of children’s education in Ghana, I have studied the effect of education in Afghanistan. I was previously part of the Afghan Canadian Students Association at the University of Calgary. They held weekly discussions on various problems within Afghanistan from political problems to the threat of terrorism to child labor. At the end of each discussion, we would find the answer to always be the same: education.
Child labor exists when families are dependent on the child to provide income for the family to survive. Yet, because of their lack of skills, the child can only earn very little. If this child was educated, even just with basic education, his or her skillset and income will dramatically increase. It is said that just with literacy, 12% of the world’s poverty can be eradicated. Furthermore, literacy gives access to information which was previously inaccessible. Education gives people the independence to think for themselves and be less susceptible to political rhetoric or radical ideology.
Something that is especially in need of attention in Afghanistan and many other parts of the world is girl’s education. An educated mother will have far-reaching effects on their family. Not only can they contribute more effectively to the income of the family, but they also tend to have less children and therefore, are able to focus more energy and resources on each child. She is also more likely to recognize the importance of health care and education for her children.
So with all this said, I believe if we want to reduce global poverty in the long term, a huge portion of that will be determined in how much we invest in education. PAJAAF already recognizes this. Their projects focus on both children’s and adult’s education which makes me excited to be volunteering for them.