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Focus on Education

A documentary looks at global education

By Samantha Group | May 22 , 2007

Joab in front of school
The second installment in the multi-year documentary project follows children in seven countries to update their progress in school. Pictured: Joab from Kenya. (Photo: Frederick Rendina/Thirteen/WNET New York)

May 22, 2007 

Each year, millions of children around the world are unable to go to school. To draw attention to this widespread problem, the United Nations (UN) is putting education first.

Recently, the UN screened a documentary film called Back to School. The film is the second in a series of documentaries for the project Time for School, in partnership with Wide Angle—a program from the Public Broadcasting System.

These films follow seven children from seven different countries. This 12-year project began in 2003, when the children first started school.

“This is something we could do to help the education crisis in the world,” said producer and writer Judy Katz. “Documentary filmmakers can get deeply involved in a problem and do something about it.”

More than 100 million children will never set foot in a school. Sixty percent of those children are girls. Cheryl Faye, a panelist at the screening event, is head of the UN Girls Education Initiative. She spoke about the many factors that prevent girls from getting an education.

Joab in school
Joab Onyando, a 10-year-old who lives outside of Nairobi, Kenya, considers himself lucky to crowd into a 70-student first grade classroom without desks or chairs. (Photo: Frederick Rendina/Thirteen/WNET New York)

One problem is the long distance many children must travel to get to school. Also, girls in many cultures are traditionally expected to marry early and work to help their families.

”We need to make a special effort for girls,” Faye said.

As part of the UN’s Millennium goals, the organization wants every single child to get at least an elementary education by 2015. They hope the documentary will draw attention to this problem and raise awareness of the need for global education.

Act Locally

Students from Lawrence Middle School in New York were inspired to take action when they saw the film. The seventh-grade class is raising money to help build a library on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, where Joab—a child in the documentary—lives.

The class teacher, Karen Weiner, and the class are known in their school as the “Kenya crew.” All the kids were really happy to support Joab and said they felt great about their fund-raising efforts.

Joab is 10 years old. When his mother died, he dropped out of school to help out at home. Fortunately, his principal was able to find him and get him back on track with his education.

But even in class, Joab has to learn with 70 other students and only one teacher! His first-grade classroom does not have desks or chairs.

But like the seventh-graders at Lawrence Middle School, kids can work together to make a difference in places like Nairobi. By raising money for education, kids can help children on the other side of the world have a chance at a better, happier life.

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit this Web site.

Critical Thinking Question

Read today's news story, and then answer the following question.


Why do you think it's important for every child to get an education?


Join a discussion of this question on our bulletin board.

 

About the Author

Samantha Group is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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