This year the World of Children Award is introducing a new category for education. During our first 17 years, education has been part of the Humanitarian Award portfolio, competing for attention with social welfare programs, rescue and rehabilitation programs, programs serving orphans and abandoned children and others.
We have been motivated to do this to incent people around the world to refocus their attention on what is, perhaps, the fulcrum issue that determines what kind of a life a child has as they reach adulthood. According to studies done by Stanford Social Innovation Review and by The Council on Foreign Relations, educational failures are becoming worse both in Third World countries and in the United States.
In the developing world:
"Job prospects for most people in the developing world are poor, and staying in school past grade 5, or even through grade 10, does not improve them significantly. In impoverished regions, the vast majority will not secure formal employment and will be supported primarily through subsistence level agriculture and trading." (View source)
Our experience is that only programs designed locally to deal with local needs appear effective. Programs seeking to replicate a first world education with pedagogical application of broad educational values usually fails whereas educational programs designed to teach locally marketable, vocational skills are much more successful.
One of our Honorees, for example, in Nepal, surveys his market every 2 years and determines what jobs will be available in the near term future. He then builds out his programs to train young people for these jobs (along with basic skills in math and reading). The results are staggering. Fully 95% of the youngsters get immediate gainful employment and remain employed even after 5 years. This ensures several things: that the person will be self-sufficient, that they will be a productive member of society, that they will remain healthier and, in the case of young women, that they will postpone marriage and childbirth until they are more mature, rather than the local average of age 15.
In the United States:
"U.S. schools still languish in the middle of international rankings, behind the schools of such countries as Estonia and Slovenia. And half a century after the end of official segregation, huge gaps continue to divide students by race and class, with the average black 12th grader scoring in reading at a level equivalent to the average white eighth grader on the National Assessment of Educational Progress." (View source)
Our experience is that standardized programs ignore the background of various socio-economic groups, special needs children and the vicissitudes they face in early childhood and on a day-to-day basis. From personal experience we learned that children who are grafted from their early childhood culture into another culture have very high rates of failure, and high rates of anger and frustration, which the educators are generally ill prepared to deal with.
Thus, by seeking nominations for the World of Children Education Award, which will carry a stipend of at least $75,000 as well as access to our broad network of additional resources, we are hoping to shine a light on those who use their creativity and their human capital to make education more meaningful to young people and more consistent with the needs that exist in disparate geographical and cultural environments.
We urge people who have been innovating in education in the United States and around the globe to learn about our Awards and the requirements for a nomination. With every grant bestowed by World of Children Award, children's lives are improved and altered giving them a better chance at success in their adult lives.
Visit worldofchildren.org/nominate to learn more.
This article was originally published on Medium.