Charity Spotlight: This blog post was provided by Stephanie Rudyk, Marketing and Community Outreach Manager at SchoolBOX Inc., as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.
September and “back-to-school” season is upon us once again, marking a return to the classroom. For some around the world, however, access to a quality education is not as easy as it may seem.
In Nicaragua, the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti, only 56 percent of children are able to graduate from grade 6 according to statistics reported by UNICEF. In rural areas, kids have to walk great distances to access the nearest school, while existing schools are often overcrowded and lack basic materials such as textbooks, notebooks, and school supplies. Kids eager to get an education can be found congregated in makeshift metal and wood structures or open-air palm leaf ranchos, led by a local teacher with little more than a passion for education and a desire to see the next generation overcome the barriers that have kept so many in poverty.
In 2006, Tom Affleck gave two girls a notebook and pencil in Nicaragua and watched in surprise as their father said, “now that my daughters have notebooks and pencils, they can go to school this year”. This humble statement sparked a movement towards educational empowerment, as Tom founded SchoolBOX the same year to equip Nicaraguan children with basic school supplies. Since that fateful day, SchoolBOX has delivered over 500,000 notebooks into the hands of deserving kids, constructed 89 classrooms, and installed 54 libraries in our partner schools. SchoolBOX is slated to break ground on its 100th classroom in spring 2018.
“Now that my daughters have notebooks and pencils, they can go to school this year.”—The father of a SchoolBOX recipient
It’s important, however, to consider that education doesn’t just benefit the individual, improving access to education benefits all.
In September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development which included working to end poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, providing clean water for all, further developing green energy, sustainable cities, and communities, and working to achieve peace and justice for all. Included in this list is quality education for all boys and girls worldwide. A worthy goal in itself, quality education is also absolutely essential to achieving all 17 of the other sustainable development goals. In fact, THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has said that education is a top priority, “because it is a basic human right and the foundation on which to build peace and drive sustainable development.”
After over a decade working in Nicaragua, the team at SchoolBOX is often touched to see the children we have supported go on to be the first in their families to graduate high school and have a chance at a brighter future. Simple tools and infrastructure are often all it takes to break the cycle of poverty for kids who are in desperate need of hope, and at SchoolBOX, we’re committed to continuing this mission.
The core of our mission to “Make Education Possible” for all boys and girls is a deep-seated belief that education opens minds, hearts, and doors. It overcomes prejudice, intolerance, and inequality. It fosters growth, resilience, curiosity, health, and prosperity, and it is truly the key to sustainable development.