In developing countries around the world, going to school means much more than learning.
But before children can go to school, they need — and are often required to have — specific school supplies. The cost of supplies and uniforms are often too high for families living in poverty — causing children to drop out early. Below, we list five ways that your gift of school supplies can change kids’ lives.
When children have the books, paper, pencils, backpacks and uniforms they need to attend school, they are:
Safe from Child Traffickers
In rural and impoverished communities, children often drop out of school to start working and help their families generate income. More often than not, kids drop out before they even learn how to read. Child traffickers target these poor, rural communities, luring children and adults with offers of work in big cities.
But when kids have everything they need to go to school, they spend their days safe inside a classroom — protected from traffickers and others who would seek to exploit them.
Not Engaged in Child Labor
When kids don’t have what they need to attend school or preschool, they may stay home during the day while their parents work — making them vulnerable to predators. Or they may join their parents at their jobs to “help” them. In large families, parents may choose one child — often a boy — to attend school while the others work to support their families.
But when donors help cover the cost of school supplies and fees, parents will be more open to sending all of their children to school — both boys, and girls. Not only do schools provide a safe space for children, but they provide a space where they will learn the skills they need to achieve their dreams — and stay away from child labor.
Avoiding Early Marriage
In many developing countries, it’s not uncommon for girls to be married by the age of 16. When girls aren’t in school, they are more likely to be forced into early marriage. And girls forced into early marriage are also more likely to face domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of abuse. An early marriage is also likely to end a girl’s chance of ever receiving an education.
But when girls have the supplies and support they need to go to school, they can learn in a safe environment and look forward to a brighter future.
Educated girls also have the capacity to create unprecedented economic and social change in their communities. Girls who are educated are more likely to delay marriage until adulthood. They have fewer children. And the children they do have are healthier and stronger. An educated mother will have increased job opportunities and higher wages, giving her the resources to buy food and medicine for her children. She will likely know more about nutrition and hygiene, and will make better use of health clinics. When women are educated, the chance of their children dying before the age of 5 is cut in half.
Receiving a Free, Nourishing Lunch
For parents living in poverty, providing food for their families can be a daily challenge. When they do provide a meal, they often eat foods that are less nutritious. For example, struggling families in Haiti often rely on cheap, starchy foods like spaghetti, corn or rice, with very little protein in their diets. Some days, they eat almost nothing.
Once children have the supplies they need to attend school, however, they often also receive a free, nourishing lunch. In many Holt-supported schools, Holt donors also help to provide a free lunch for children — providing the vital protein and vegetables that children don’t normally eat. Because of these protein-rich meals, kids are able to focus on their learning, retain what they learn, and grow healthy and strong. Often times, the lunch they eat at school is the only meal they will eat all day.
Empowered to Escape Poverty
School empowers a child to fight against and break free from poverty by giving them the concepts and skills they wouldn’t otherwise learn. An education empowers a child to dream of a different life than the one they know, and gives them the skills to achieve that dream. When education is a possibility for kids, it opens the door for new opportunities and a future they can look forward to.
But kids can only attend school if they have the books, uniforms, pens, pencils and other supplies they need to study.
Mai Anh Boaz | Digital & Content Marketing Specialist