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My friends and I fell in love with Myanmar (Burma) before Hilary Clinton ever set foot in there. In the May of 2010, no one I knew had ever been. Back then, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest, and the military regime limited travelers’ access to certain parts of the country. Right on the heels of North Korea, it was the second most isolated country in the world.

Since the junta overthrew a democratic government in 1969, to the outside world, Myanmar became synonymous with systematic human rights violations, forced relocations, drug trafficking, and poverty. But what my friends and I found there were beautiful Buddhist temples and golden pagodas, as well as the most generous, most kind-hearted nation of people. Everywhere we went, the Burmese smiled at us, waved to us, shouted mingalaba! On a full day of trekking through the hills of Kalaw, two remote villages welcomed us into their wedding festivities, fed us steeped tea and lavish meals. On our way home, we stumbled upon a Nepalese ceremony, and the people offered us even more food, more drinks, more candies. Their children accompanied us halfway back to Kalaw, singing and dancing as they skipped beside us, chatting in Burmese, laughing.

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Team Stupa. May 2010.

Like most Burmese children, I later learned, most of these singing and laughing children had never touched a picture book. The educational system in Myanmar had been practically non-existent; the illiteracy rate among those over 15 and older stood at 2.5 million people in 2011. According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 33% of school-aged children in Myanmar do not attend school and 70% of those who do are unable to finish at the primary level. Much of this is due to the lack of funds in barely maintained educational institutions, as well as the general poverty in the country that forces children out of schools at a young age in order to earn wages for their families.

In recent years, the junta has started handing over its power to a democratic system in non-bloody, non-violent reform, and willingly opened its doors to the outside world. As Burma embarks on such a historic transformation, the education of its children becomes more important than ever. Educational Empowerment provides Burmese children access to an educational environment in Myanmar that improves their future economic opportunities. Not only does EE provide books for children and develop community and monastic school libraries, it also aims to provide teachers with trainings and materials.

I would gladly support any organization working to build a democratic future for the brave, kind-hearted people of Myanmar. Through Give Direct to EE, we can play a part in ensuring children education and economic success at a critical time in the building of a free Myanmar! Give today! Every dollar matters!

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Message from Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona CEO, to Give to Girls 2014 donors:

Thank you so much for joining us to Give to Girls! Your contributions helped us raise more than $2,600 in March for Jolkona partners supporting maternal health, education and empowerment for women and girls locally and globally.Nadia

With your donations ranging from $10 to $1,000, our collective giving is enough to fund English and computer classes for eight girls in Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation), agriculture training and supplies for six women farmers in Sudan (MADRE), school supplies for five girls in Liberia (More Than Me Foundation), job skills classes for two homeless women in Seattle (Jubilee Women’s Center), and more.

Our partner organizations will be sending out impact reports for every donation in the coming months. You can also continue supporting these kinds of projects by making a meaningful contribution to Jolkona’s Women & Girls partners throughout the year.

If your company has a matching donation program, you have an opportunity to double your impact. Let us know if we can assist you in submitting the information to your employer this month.

Thank you for investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today!

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Everyone knows that educating girls improves their career opportunities. But did you also know that educating girls reduces child mortality and kickstarts developing countries?

The Global Education Fund reports that each year that a girl spends in secondary school, her future income increases by 15 to 25 percent. An educated girl invests 90 percent of her income in her family and community. When a mother has received a basic education, her children are 40 percent more likely to survive past the age of five. When looking at the 50 million girls that currently live in poverty, just imagine the impact that educating these girls could have on the world!

Through Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign this month, you can support education projects in Afghanistan, Liberia and Nepal. For these three countries, which have some of the lowest GDPs and literacy rates, improving education for girls is absolutely essential.

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Improve Female Literacy in Afghanistan

Only 11 to 13 percent of girls and women in Afghanistan are literate, due the distances to travel to schools, caring for infants, and the social and cultural taboos related to attending co-ed schools, having contact with male teachers, and female education in general. But educating and empowering Afghanistan’s women is essential to lifting the country out of decades of war.

Barakat, Jolkona’s nonprofit partner on the ground, has an innovative curriculum that enables girls and women to become literate in a safe environment: all-female classes and teachers, community spaces, no restrictions on age or bringing babies to class. Barakat already engages 3,000 girls and women with their literacy programs. A Give to Girls gift of $60 will provide a Lower Level Literacy Education for one girl. 

Educate Girls in Liberia

More than 60 percent of Liberia’s school-aged children are not in school, including the most vulnerable girls in the country: orphans, homeless children, sex workers, and children of single parents. Jolkona’s nonprofit partner More Than Me believes that these low rates of education are directly related to the low life expectancy and other health problems Liberians face.

MTM’s program provides vulnerable girls in Liberia the opportunity to go to school, while also learning about nutrition, disease prevention and vaccination — giving them the tools they need to lead fuller, healthier lives. A donation of just $25 will provide two girls with school supplies, and $100 will provide a whole semester of education.

Educate Enslaved Nepali Girls

Struggling with extreme poverty, many families in Western Nepal take their daughters out of school and sell them into bonded service, known as Kamlari. The Nepal Youth Foundation works to rescue these girls by returning them to their family, helping the family develop another source of income, and prevent future trafficking through education.

NYF has rescued and educated more than 10,000 girls since its inception in 1990, and with your help, they can help even more. A gift of $100 will rescue one Nepali girl. Even just $5 can make a huge difference. 

Here at Jolkona, we are excited to support women’s education this month, since so many other causes hinge on the education and professional success of girls. Join us, and Give to Girls today.

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As Jolkona gears up for International Women’s Day, several of our female supporters joined others from the greater Seattle area to discuss how improving health, wealth and community ties helps women and girls achieve personal and professional success. The Feb. 20 event, “Ignite Your Radiance,” was hosted by Michelle Wong, a lifestyle/financial freedom strategist, with proceeds benefiting Jolkona operations.

The first speaker was our CEO and co-founder, Nadia Mahmud. Opening up with a quote from Malcolm X, Nadia captured the heart of the giving spirit, and how a philosophy of generosity can improve a woman’s personal and communal quality of life:

Melody Biringer, founder of CRAVE, delighted us with anecdotes of past failures and successes, with each challenge bringing her closer to understanding of the power of authentic relationships:

Dianne Juhl, the founder of the Feminine Face of Money, offered insight into the transformative power of financial freedom for women:

The last speaker invited the audience to get up and dance, literally!  See why Jamie Silverstein, a retired Olympic ice dancer and now owner of the Grinning Yogi Studio, believes we all can be moved and inspired:

Thank you to Michelle Wong, the speakers and audience for a successful event. If you haven’t already done so, check out the event photos on our Facebook page — and stay tuned for a special Jolkona women/girls giving campaign leading up to International Women’s Day on March 8.

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I’m not trying to be flashy with my headline, I truly believe that today’s teachers aren’t adequately prepared for their future classrooms; and The National Council on Teacher Quality feels the same way.

Classroom

The NCTQ assessed the quality of a number of educational programs around the nation, and the results weren’t great:

“Through an exhaustive and unprecedented examination of how these schools operate, the review finds they have become an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms” (The full Seattle Times article about the NCTQ report can be read here).

These were hard words to swallow for educational programs involved. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten quickly responded to the NCTQ’s accusations by stating that the review was a “gimmick,” and further stated, “it would be more productive to focus on developing a consistent, systemic approach to lifting the teaching profession instead of resorting to attention-grabbing consumer alerts based on incomplete standards.” Although Weingarten agrees that teachers could always be more prepared, she believes that the level of scrutiny the educational programs received was unwarranted.  (Photo by Canadian2006)

What’s The Truth?

The NCTQ discovered two disturbing facts in their research:

  • *3-out-of-4 teacher training programs do not train potential educators how to teach reading based on the latest research. Instead, future teachers are left to develop their own methods.
  • *Only 7 percent of programs ensure student teachers are partnered with effective classroom teachers. Most often, a student teacher is placed into a classroom where a teacher is willing to have them, regardless of experience.

If I signed up for a computer programming class at my university and saw that the computers were still running Windows 98, I would demand my tuition money back because Windows 98 is out of date. This is exactly what is happening in some educational schools. Teachers are being taught strategies that are outdated, and therefore not as effective as they could be. Teaching old strategies should never be in a lesson plan.  Similarly, not pairing up student teachers (or even first year teachers) with a proven teacher leads to improper training and higher rates of first year teachers burning out. The NCTQ stated that, “A vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers adequate return on their investment of time and tuition dollars.”

 Making the Top TenTeacher and Sudents

I want to make clear what I’m claiming in this piece: I’m not saying that all teachers are bad teachers; what I’m saying is that teachers aren’t being trained as well as they could be, and students are suffering from it. In the world rankings of education, America doesn’t even make the top ten. It is time to invest into our teachers, because not doing so will put the nail in the coffin of our make our already failing system. However, this is just one study’s opinion. If your experiences tell you differently, please write in the comments below why you agree or disagree with this study. Every experience matters in educational studies.  (Photo by connectedclass)

What Jolkona is Doing for Education

Since its education month at Jolkona, we have spot lighted three educational themed projects that need your support. The three projects are highlighted here, and include empowering women to become better teachers and getting technology to students who don’t have access to it. If you want to support these projects, please visit our Give Together page, and donate.

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*The full Seattle Times article can be found here.

Sugata Mitra in February of this year gave a powerful TED Talk explaining that building a school in the cloud is not only a plausible option, but an option that could potentially make access to education a problem of the past. 

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Mitra started his TED Talk by sharing a story about how many wealthier parents in India bragged about their sons and daughters great computer skills. Parents believing their children are the best at everything is nothing new, but Mitra wouldn’t have been surprised if these children had a high computer IQ. Through their parents, these children had opportunity and access to a great education. However, Mitra wanted to know if these children of wealthy parents were actually brilliant, or if given the opportunity, could children with no access to any computers or wealth could be just as great. To test his theory, he put a computer in a hole in the wall 300 miles inland from his office, and then told children they could use the computer.  The results will surprise you.

A number of children stared at the computer, and began to teach other how to browse the Internet. This may sound trivial, but these children didn’t speak English. In order to even begin to use the computer, they had to learn English. After two months of using the computer, Mitra returned to the computer, and the children asked him, “Can you bring a better mouse and faster processor please?”  Mitra installed another computer under a tree, and even more children learned how to browse, improved their English, and most were computer literate within months of having access to a computer.

Mitra’s obvious next step was to find teachers to help these low-income students. However, finding teachers to volunteer their time over a webcam to very young children proved difficult. Mitra overcame this obstacle by employing grandmothers. This may sound strange, but any good grandmother knows the best way to encourage a child is to ask questions: “How did you do that? How did you get to this screen? Can you explain to me what you did?” The grandmothers also gave words of encouragement: “I could never do that at your age. You are really smart. You learn so quickly!”  This encouragement and interaction with the grandmothers only boosted the childrens computer literacy intelligence.

computer in wall

 A New Approach

Seeing such great success has caused Mitra to look at our education system in a new way:

“My [Mitra] wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. Help me build the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online. I also invite you, wherever you are, to create your own miniature child-driven learning environments and share your discoveries.”

Building a school in the cloud will give more students all around the world access and the opportunity to a great education (you can watch the entire TED Talk here).

It is education month here at Jolkona, and we have three featured projects that need your help. A donation to our Give Together campaign will do one of three things: help close the technological gap in the U.S. through the Technology Access Foundation (TAF), provide play-powered lanterns for rural students in Ghana, or help support women teachers in Burmese. Donate today!

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Give Together is live! And our opening feature issue is Education1005044_10151427376962396_1217417665_n

We have three projects that significantly help both teachers and students internationally move towards a brighter future. Give Together today, choosing your favorite project and pooling your contributions with others who share your same interests.

Here is an introduction to our featured projects:

Empower Burmese Women to Become Effective Teachers

Educational Empowerment supports education in SE Asia, especially in Myanmar. A third of children in the country are unable to access education at all, and 70% of those who do never move beyond primary school. Educational Empowerment has made it their goal to fix this deficit by providing training and educational materials to teachers (90% of whom are women) in poverty stricken communities in Myanmar.

This project not only enhances the education of young children, providing them greater opportunities in the future, but it also empowers the women who teach, allowing them to be more effective in the classroom, and prepare them better for their careers. Both teachers and children face poverty and unequal opportunity. The $250 fundraising goal for Educational Empowerment will purchase the necessary materials to contribute to the essential development of primary school children, and allow their teachers to become confident  role models.

Providing Play-Powered Lanterns for Rural Students in Ghana

Empower Playgrounds, Inc. is an innovative company that installs playground equipment for schools in Ghana, which charge special lanterns that students can take home with them after school to study. In most villages in Ghana, there isn’t a reliable source of power. The village of Ahiatroga, is no different. This makes it difficult for students to continue their education outside of the classroom, which is essential for increasing the quality of their education.

The $500 fundraising goal will install a merry-go-round for Ahiatroga’s school, charging portable LED lanterns for students to take home and study with. Empower Playgrounds, Inc. has already installed 40 of these innovative merry-go-rounds, benefitting almost 10,000 students in Ghana. Donate today, and add the students of Ahiatroga to this growing number.

Fund the Education of Underserved Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

The Technology Access Foundation (TAF) is an organization in King County, Washington, that is working on improving the STEM education for communities of color, better equipping underserved students to enter college, and helping them pursue careers in fields of science and technology. Their summer program provides camps focused on a number of topics, such as robotics, aviation and design. The students attend a field trip, and present their work at the end of the session.

The fundraising goal of 2 scholarships at $350 will allow some of the highest need students from White Center Washington, where as many as 82% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches, to have an in-depth, and hands on experience with a STEM field of their interest. The summer program will supplement their education, preparing them for college and science and tech based career.

Donate today, and use Give Together to pick one of these organizations and improve education worldwide!

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On the eve of International Women’s Day, I attended a sold out screening of the film, Girl Rising. The energy in the theater was thick with anticipation and empowerment. As the film began, a hush fell over the crowd. Embracing every second of this amazing film, I learned of 9 girls from 9 different countries- Afghanistan, Haiti, Peru, Nepal, India, Egypt, Cambodia, Ethiopia and the Sierra Leone. Each girl faced with different life challenges from child marriage to abandonment, from the lack of education to violence, and much more. The main theme throughout is the power of education and how so many girls, millions of them, lack educational opportunities.

My heart swelled with sadness and disappointment as each story comes to life. Feelings of hopelessness overwhelmed me and my faith in mankind began to dwindle- how could so many girls be denied their right to freedom, to education, to choosing for themselves? And slowly, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, each girl showed strength and a fierceness that will not die. Each girl overcame her obstacle and displayed grace, light and pride in doing so.

As a mother of a young baby, my view of the world has changed this past year. Issues such as free and available education to every day safety become a common part of my every day thinking. In the film, Wadley a bright 8 year old Haitian girl is troubled as her world is changed forever after the terrible earthquake in Port au Prince. An estimated 80% of schools in Port-au-Prince were damaged or destroyed during the earthquake. Prior to the earthquake, about 40% of children were unable to pay school fees. Only 60% of Haitian children have the opportunity to attend primary school and only 20% go to secondary school. About 50% of all Haitians are literate.

With constant drive and fearlessness, Wadley returns to the makeshift tent school house every day, even when turned away because her mother could not pay the school fees. “I will come back every day until I can stay” she proudly reports. To Wadley, education is the key to her success in life and developing mind. Eventually, she wins and the teacher allows her to stay. With my child always on my mind, I pondered “What would I do if education wasn’t free or available for my young child? Would I send him to the local school house every day to try to be accepted?” Absolutely!

Statistics for education among young girls in developing countries is staggering:

  • Around 11 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are classed as illiterate.
  • Worldwide, around 776 million adults and young people over the age of 15 cannot read or write – just under two thirds of them female.

– Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

  • Studies show that every year of schooling increasing a girl’s future earning power by 10 to 20 percent.
  • Less than half a cent of every development dollar goes to programs specifically for girls, particularly those ages 10-14.
  • Girls make up more than half of the world’s 143 million out-of-school youth.

– Girl Up, United Nations Foundation

What can you do to encourage the Wadley’s of the world to fight for their right to be educated? What can you to do lift up women and girls around the world? What can you do to encourage equal rights for all? Through Jolkona and the Give2Girls campaign going on right now, projects and causes all over the world need your donations so organizations can continue the strong work and empowerment, helping so many girls in this world. And for a limited time, the first $2,500 in donations made towards women and girls will be matched by the Seattle International Foundation. So give what you can, give today! Educate girls! See Girl Rising! Find a screening here.

Jolkona is proud to be a part of this movement to support and empower women through the Give2Girls campaign. You can also be a part of this movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest.

Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. Pumpkin carvings, haunted houses and zany costumes. October 31st traditions are commonplace among U.S. households to bring fun, laughter – and inevitable sugar highs – to children. The first Halloween I remember involved cladding my young self in armor, a young but valiant knight. Another year around kindergarten age I danced in and out of the shadows as a trick-or-treating ninja. The vibrancy of kids’ imaginations, not to mention the overwhelming allure of free candy, turns an ordinary day into a happy, costumed spectacle.

UNICEF’s Inspiring October Month

Children deserve the stable health and peace of mind necessary to fully engage in cultural community traditions like Halloween. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a riveting campaign created to assure such an accomplishment for our youth. UNICEF concentrates on developmental work and human rights for children and women all over the globe. If most adults are still just kids at heart, then helping children out in the world right now should be a no-brainer. The Trick-or-Treat campaign has already accumulated tens of millions of dollars for causes which champion the education and success of kids.

We admire the widespread efforts of UNICEF in its autumn campaign. Similarly, Jolkona would like to emphasize a few of its child-minded partners who continue to make life less scary for their communities of focus. Take a look below at engaging non-profits in the fields of healthcare, education and nutrition.

Children are the Future


Supply Medicine to Children in Sierra Leone: All As One is a non-profit medical clinic that combines professional nurses, doctors and resources under one roof for ailing children in Sierra Leone. Lack of access to proper healthcare services greatly contributes to the country’s high child mortality rate. Improve their quality of life in a substantive way today.

Sponsor a Child in Bangladesh: Underprivileged is an understatement for many Bangladeshi youth; Distressed Children & Infants International works tirelessly to secure children equality and education. School supplies, adequate medical treatment, clean clothes – these are essential factors during childhood and adolescent development. Partner with DCI by sponsoring a child’s future well-being.

Rescue Nepali Children from Severe Malnutrition: Poor nutrition, as well as a scarcity of food in general, significantly contributes to Nepal’s struggling population of kids and mothers. The Nepal Youth Foundation operates Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes where they can come to live, learn, and grow healthy and strong. Mothers learn how to prepare nutritious meals with local, affordable staples; children are periodically checked up on after returning home.

Halloween’s festive day is filled with otherworldly ghouls, goblins, witches and werewolves – but consider joining Jolkona in its aspirations for regular, extraordinary people. Children are in need of healthful treatment and care everywhere.

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I learned extensively about how the United Nations operates during my time in high school by participating in Model UN. Whether doing mock sessions in the classroom or attending multi-day conferences with fellow high schoolers, I devoted time to research, oratory skills and argument-building. My ability to think critically benefited greatly from this period in my life – but it is the diplomacy and goodwill that I experienced in the program which resonates with me most clearly to this day.

Show Your Support for Peacemaking

Today, October 24th, is United Nations Day, a moment to celebrate the UN’s impact, spread its mission, and build international support for its goals. Here at Jolkona, the United Nations’ Millennium Goals vitally inform the partners and projects we align ourselves with. They are a set of ambitious targets endorsed by all 193 member states in the UN. The breadth and depth of the goals serve to arm non-profits, governments, politicians, activists and citizens all over the world with a blueprint for change.

Jolkona’s projects below relate directly to the UN’s ongoing objectives. They are geared towards the health, education and empowerment of children, men, and women – among other exceptional missions!

United Nations Millennium Development Goals

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

  1. Target 1A: Halve the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day
  2. Target 1B: Achieve Decent Employment for Women, Men, and Young People
  3. Target 1C: Halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

Feed a Hungry Family in Nicaragua and contribute to long-lasting food development for families in Nicaragua. Through the help of MADRE, donations will provide seeds, farming supplies, and agricultural training to men and women in need. Sustainable models for saving people from poverty and hunger are achievable with nonprofits such as MADRE.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

  1. Target 2A: Ensure all children can complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015

Give Books and Education to Children in Myanmar by supporting Educational Empowerment, an organization Jolkona started partnering with in August 2012. Educational access and opportunity is their modus operandi; and with a simple $25 gift a library in Myanmar, Burma can be stocked with local books for elementary-age children. Do what you can to facilitate the UN’s goal to successfully provide primary education for all.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

  1. Target 3A: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015

Provide Business Opportunities for Peruvian Women through Awamaki, a non-profit based in Peru that works on economic development in rural communities in the area, where opportunities for education and entrepreneurship are scarce. Basket-weaving women from Quechua-speaking villages are presented with workshops and materials to improve the quality of their product – and even resources for ascertaining greater business independence. Give to Awamaki through Jolkona and empower women today.

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality Rates

  1. Target 4A: Between 1990 and 2015, reduce the rate of mortality for children under five by two-thirds.

Save a Young Child from Diarrhea in India with a gift of only $10. Calcutta Kids has been tirelessly aiding Indian children since 2004, providing access to and education on health care, nutrition, and medicine. Oral rehydration solution and Zinc Sulphate is administered from top Calcutta medical professionals to ensure children do not succumb to deathly dehydration. Calcutta Kids’ follow-up therapy and life-counseling is life-changing.

Check in tomorrow to learn about the UN’s four additional Millennium Development Goals, and celebrate United Nations week all week long with Jolkona.

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The gift of an education was the greatest thing anyone could have given me as a child and young adult. It’s what has allowed me to write this–and you to read it.

Here at Jolkona we know that learning leads to better lives and better communities, and have partnered with local, national and international projects working not only to make sure the youth of every country has primary education, but to take learning a few steps further wherever possible.

In recognition of UN week, we would like to highlight some of our partners that contribute to the accomplishment of at least one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals: to provide universal primary education by 2015.

What You Can Do to Help

Provide education to girls in Liberia: The More Than Me Foundation works to get girls in Liberia and West Africa into schools and helps to provide students with books, scholarships, and more. More than 61% of the most impoverished school aged girls in the Liberia are not receiving an education. The foundation has begun to help by already successfully putting more than 100 girls into schooling with full support.

You can give two girls a year of school supplies for only $25, or give four girls mandatory uniforms for only $50. If you want to take your generosity one step further, $100 will give a girl an education for a semester, and $250 will give the gift of education for an entire year.

Give books and education to children in Myanmar: Our non-profit partner Education Empowerment works to help provide kindergartens in rural areas with libraries full of books tailored towards the students’ reading levels. According to UNICEF, 70% of children in Myanmar who are able to attend primary school do not finish, and 33% never even begin.

Your small gift of $25 helps stock a library in Burma, and $50 will provide class materials for 50 Burmese students for 1 year. Either gift will give on for a lifetime.

Support Youth Led Journalism in the United States: Ashoka Youth Venture Seattle’s project, the Beat, tackles primary education with hands-on leadership by helping aspiring young reporters, photographers, illustrators and writers in the Issaquah area get published, and more importantly, noticed.  Through the Beat, teens publish a self-made page in the Issaquah Press.

Youth Venture is already inspiring young locals to get involved intellectually at the public level.

Through the course of extensive research required for writing about issues for the Beat, I hope to develop my own understanding, wrote Nitin Shyamkumar of Skyline High School in one of his articles for the Beat.

With $50, you can sponsor one student’s story and provide them with real-world working experience and understanding. For a $500 donation, you will sponsor an issue of The Beat and receive a digital copy, while helping the youth establish a more active voice in their community.

Help Educated Underserved Youth of Color in USA: Less than 25% of children of color in Washington State in the 8th grade receive a score of Proficient or higher on national math and science tests. The Technology Access Foundation is working to help increase that percentage by preparing underserved 6-12 graders in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math for an on-track high school graduation and college beginning.

Your gift of just $30 will provide a student with headphones needed for Techstart, and for $35 you can provide headphones for language classes. You can also give an entire language arts class literature curriculum for a year for just $50, or help purchase robotics kits for students for the same amount.

Take Action

Give to these great projects or any of our other partners working to accomplish the UN’s goal today and help provide universal education to the youth across the globe. It may just be the best gift you give this holiday season.

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and check out our Pinterest to stay up to date with what’s happening all of our projects.

Women make the world go round. They inspire, lead, challenge, and renew the lives we lead and the places we call home. But they also need our help. Girl Rising is the name of a transformative documentary that captures the day-to-day life of ten young girls from ten nations all over the globe. The heart of knowledge spearheading the film is this: when provided with adequate educational and social opportunities, girls change the world for the better. Check out this infographic which succinctly illustrates the indelible impact girls make in others’ lives. While you are at it, take a look below at a teaser trailer for the upcoming film!

Day of the Girl Alliance

The filmmakers are backed by an incredible, diverse partnership between NGOs like La Pietra Coalition and Girl Up, project partners such as CNN Films and Business Online, and the leading strategic partner Intel. Together, they form an unbreakable bond of support for the 1st annual International Day of the Girl. Today, Thursday, October 11th honors and celebrates the lives of girls and behooves those in their communities to give back in the name of girls’ education and empowerment.

Jolkona believes that every girl deserves an equal chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Education, economic independence, financial stability, adequate healthcare, and full legal representation; these are a handful of just a few goals among many that International Day of the Girl is all about. See these ambitions being fruitfully put into action through Jolkona’s partners, like a few standouts described below.

Championing Women through Jolkona


Empower Women in Nepal Through Higher Education: The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation is dedicated to advancing young Nepalese women through school beyond the primary level. Differing levels of gifts can provide them with much needed resources like transportation, an internet connection, school books, and even room, board and tuition.

Support Women Farmers in Sudan: Many women in their Sudanese communities are struggling to transform their poverty-stricken lives, which is why standing behind MADRE is so critical. Essential agricultural resources, like farming training, seeds, or a fresh plot of land, are made available through their hard work. In Sudan, women do the majority of farming but there is a dearth of support when it comes to land rights and income. Help MADRE change this.

Provide Education to the Females of Afghanistan: Look no further than Barakat for proof of exceptional work being accomplished for Afghani girls. The cultural taboos and societal imbalances for women pursuing education are significant, but far from insurmountable. Personally fund a girl’s accelerated literary class for only $40. Help these girls stay on track to blossom into highly literate, educated members of their community.

Support Rape Survivors in Haiti Displacement Camps: Sexual assault is a demeaning, destructive and inexorably heinous act. In the aftermath of such a traumatic event, professional resources and emotional support is imperative. MADRE, the previously mentioned women’s rights nonprofit, works alongside women in Haiti, offering hygiene kits and peer therapy sessions. International Day of the Girl should not pass in vain; instantly become an activist on behalf of marginalized women by making a donation.

Endorse this day as a symbol for the value and worth of women in our world. Watch what amazing things girls will achieve if given a chance. Jolkona’s partners believe deeply and emphatically in promoting equality between the genders and doing whatever possible to empower women. When girls thrive, so too do their children, families, friends and communities. See more Jolkona projects for and about women here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest and keep up to date with all we are doing and the impact you are making.

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Report on Girls’ Education in India

Note from the Editor: this report is written by Daljit Singh, Jolkona Office Manager intern, a graduate in political science from the University of Washington.

photo credit: Flickr, Simon Tucker Photographs

Education is a basic human right that should be exercised fully in all nations, but for many girls in India, attending school is not an option. A girl’s education is an essential starting point in establishing equality everywhere. Despite the Indian Constitution guaranteeing equality before the law and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, India remains a patriarchal society. Male inheritance and property ownership, early marriage, dowry, honor crimes, lack girls’ education, witch hunting, violence against women, and trafficking are all serious issues in the country. There are schools, but most girls do not attend, often because of religious reasons or cultural pressures.

A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau states that three out five girls receives primary education versus three out four boys. There should not be differences in the numbers of such a basic, universal human right. The law of the land makes it clear that both boys and girls have an equal opportunity to attend school from the age of six through fourteen, and that primary education is a fundamental right (Indian Constitution, Art 21). If the constitution does not make it clear enough, there is also an article in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defining that education is a universal human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). Girls are not receiving equal access to primary education in rural India and therefore are not achieving equality.

In this report, I want to focus on rural India and will examine the main reasons why girls have been kept away from receiving a complete primary education.

Limited access to laws and rights

The laws governing education in India are remarkably similar to the laws of western nations.  These laws are accessible to the citizens of India, but many of the citizens are unsure of how to properly live them out and where to go with complaints. Complaints usually fall on deaf ears and the citizen is told that there is equal access but that they are not fully utilizing it. It is a catch-22 situation.

In addition to national laws, there are also international laws that also govern these states. These laws, however, are harder to access for the average citizen. The citizens are only able to access these laws through local NGOs. However, the NGOs are not usually located in rural India. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a clear article outlining that the access to education is a basic human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). These declarations should give more power to the government to provide access to education to all children.

Education is the crux

The impact of education on girls is extraordinary. Education sustains human values. It forms the foundation for learning and critical thinking. Education also provides skills for girls to become more self-reliant and provides them with more opportunities. Thinking into the future, education also provides them with the knowledge to manage health problems. A girl understanding her own body can make the difference between an unwanted pregnancy and an illegal abortion. Having the knowledge beforehand is crucial to saving and protecting lives.

Education does impact human development, as mentioned, along with economic development but the greatest impact is on democracy. Education is the only way a girl can be an informed citizen, leading the way for her to having her voice heard in society.  Education also provides a better overall quality of life. Research has shown the life expectancy rises by as two years for every one percent increase literacy (U.S. Census Bureau 1998). When women have a voice there can be changes made to existing laws changing the future for young girls.

photo credit: Flickr, karathepirate

4 reasons why girls are pulled out of school

The first reason why girls are pulled out of school is because of family responsibilities. Girls provide free labor at home for the family. Home is also where they learn to be a better housewife. Many girls are kept at home because it is a better payoff than going to school. Having the girl attend school is not valuable to the whole family. This problem is lucidly evident in India, even in urban areas, but more prevalent with poorer families. Girls can be found doing everything from farm work to household chores.

The family plays a central role in a girl’s life and shaping her future. Respect is given to elders in all situations and no decision can be made without consulting an elder. This often leads to the practice of arranged marriages. The decision is entirely up to the family and the girl often does not even see her future husband until the day of the wedding. Compared to American norms, individuals growing up in India are much more dependent on their families, especially parents.

The second reason why girls are kept from receiving a primary education is because they are pulled out early to protect family honor. This also can affect the dowry when the girl is married. The boy’s side of the family can raise the dowry if they suspect she has been in school with boys during puberty. The practice of dowry is illegal, but laws are not always implemented. If the dowry cannot be paid, the bride runs the risk of being ruined, or worse, being killed. Honor killings are prevalent among the poor.

The third reason for inequality during primary education is because girls can’t attend school due to inadequate facilities. Schools are unable to provide safe and sanitary facilities for young girls to attend, and with the population increasing at a rapid speed the priority for new facilities is given to boys. In many cases, though, this is exacerbated by basic infrastructural problems: roads, running water, and electricity are often scarce.

The fourth reason girls are kept from school is because of the shortage of female teachers. The problem can be solved, but it starts with first educating girls so they can aspire to be teachers. The government, however, does not see this as a problem and continues to deny that there is gender inequality within the education sector. There have been efforts, as listed earlier, by the government to enroll more girls but this has not been for the nation of India, but rather for international recognition and numbers.

The Solution

All of these contribute to the issue of unequal access to education for girls along with many more issues. These four issues have many underlying issues that contribute to the overall problem. And to solve this issue we can look to three conclusions: NGOs and nonprofits, and the government’s response.

First, NGOs and nonprofits can offer the most helpful solution to this problem because of grassroots movements across rural India. Many of the past efforts have come from reviewing previous reports. NGOs and nonprofits work at a local scale where a difference can made, whereas the government has worked on a larger scale with less success.

Second, the government’s response can help the whole process of providing primary schools for girls. The Indian government has recognized the problem has been slow to act on the issue. As mentioned earlier, education is not a priority for the government right now; rather the government is focused on the economy. Without girls being involved in the future economy, the government is taking a risk and putting the issue off for another generation.

Be a part of the solution. Jolkona is focused on providing mentorship and training to young social entrepreneurs who seek to create solutions that address things like education and women empowerment through a social accelerator program called Jolkona Catalyst. Join us in supporting the next generation of leaders by volunteering or by making a donation to the Jolkona Catalyst program.

Your gift will allow Jolkona to expand the Catalyst program to other parts of the world. This program has had a significant impact on the young leaders we have already invited. You can help us achieve our mission of accelerating positive social change by empowering even more young social entrepreneurs around the world. Let’s turn small acts into big impacts!

 

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Earlier today we visited ADCAM in Manaus. Manaus is the 4th major economic zone in Brazil after Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais. The factories of major companies Suzuki, Sony, and Nokia are driving the growth of Manaus. Favorable tax rates have attracted many companies to this region over the last 30 years. As companies set up their factories, the opportunity for labor positions surfaced. Many people from the surrounding regions migrated to Manaus in hopes for a job. However, they faced very difficult circumstances. Many of them didn’t get hired due to lack of experience or qualification. Those who did get jobs did not earn enough income to provide basic necessities to their families.

Non-profit organizations started springing up in Manaus to help support these workers and their families. One such organization is ADCAM. Since its inception in 1984, ADCAM has grown from a small daycare to an education entity. Spanning a high school, a college, and a vocational institute, the organization is providing education services to over 5,000 students every day. We had a chance to spend an entire day at ADCAM in Manaus. We spent time with some students, some of the teachers, and the founder. Many of the students had started working as early as 14 years of age, the legal age in Brazil. They receive vocational training at ADCAM which then can be used when they pursue their career.

One of the questions I had during this trip was to understand how the boom in industries over the last 30 years is affecting the environment thus, and the impact in the future. While both the teachers and founder acknowledged the challenge, I felt they did not provide a clear answer about how their program will specifically address this challenge. They also mentioned that they will start environmental training courses soon.

Over the last 30 years, ADCAM has responded to the needs of the Manaus community and growing number of factories. I am confident they will continue to evolve, preparing the next generation to answer the environment challenges I had hoped to gain insight into.

The future of Amazon might not be decided by board rooms in New York or London. Rather, if organizations like ADCAM expand, the future of Amazon may be determined in the classrooms in Manaus and other areas.

Want more on the South America trip? Adnan Mahmud and Nancy Xu are also blogging about their experiences with the team. Follow Adnan here. Follow Nancy here. Keep up to date with us also on Facebook.

Education has always been one of the primary methods of empowering individuals to improve their conditions in life. The United Nations even list it as part of their Millennium Development Goals, aiming to provide universal education by 2015.

Brazil, a rapidly developing country, unfortunately falls short when faced with issues in educational disparities. It’s aiming to provide public and private education for all citizens, yet there is still a large gap between the privileged and the poor. Public schools especially are unable to provide adequate education and ensuring a student’s future with college acceptances. Instead, it is only through more expensive private schools that most Brazilian children can hope to attend a fully funded university. I was shocked to hear that only private school, which costs more than some families can afford, are essentially the only way that students would achieve the test scores necessary to get into higher education programs. Public schools just aren’t good enough.

Community in Action (Comunidade em Ação) is a non-profit organization located in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas, Complexo do Alemão, and aims to partner with local programs to empower its residents by embracing a better life. As part of the Jolkona team visiting South America, it was a wonderful opportunity to visit a non-profit working in the field. While visiting Community in Action, it was easy to see how motivated their founder, Zak Paster, and his team of dedicated volunteers were to improving conditions in the favelas. We also observed some of their current partners, many of them working to improve education opportunities for the children of the favelas.

One of the most inspiring visits was to Centro Educacional Leandro, a school in the favela run by Marcia and Marcelo and an organization that Community in Action is partnered with. Not only does this organization provide private-school education for less, but it also empowers children to help others. Marcia and Marcelo’s passion bleeds through everything they do. For the last twenty years, they have provided integral services to kids in need because of a desire to help their community. During the holiday time, Centro Educacional Leandro spearheaded a food drive, where their underprivileged students went door to door in the favela and received kilos of food from other needy families. It was inspiring to see young people help each other and want to make the community a better place, even during tough times.

Community in Action helps organizations like this one become better equipped to help empower the local community. The students at Centro Educacional Leandro had tiny, cramped schoolrooms and a stuffy computer lab. As an American growing up in the American education system, it is easy to forget how many more resources I had access to that these students do not. With Community in Action’s support, they can provide a much larger facility for students to learn the computer skills necessary to survive in today’s global economy.

Watching Community in Action was a unique opportunity to see a grassroots non-profit organization affect real change. Their strong relationship with the local community means they will continue to do good work for years to come.

Want more on the South America trip? Adnan Mahmud and Nancy Xu are also blogging about their experiences with the team. Follow Adnan here. Follow Nancy here. Keep up to date with us also on Facebook.

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