In early May, Save the Children‘s State of the World’s Mothers 2010 report ranked Afghanistan last among the 160 countries surveyed, in terms of how easy it was to raise children.
While medical care is often limited, and being an infant in Afghanistan poses many risks, it is also a tough place to grow up. Only 52% of primary aged school children are enrolled in school, where classes are often made up of more than fifty students. Despite the extraordinary restoration of public schools and teachers over the past decade, there is still a lack of teachers and school buildings, and children receive an average of 2.5 hours of school a day. That is half of what children in developed nations (OECD) receive.
These numbers reflect a vast improvement from when the Taliban controlled the country – over the past three years, school enrollment has grown from 800,000 students to 4.5 million. But youthful curiosity is not bounded by time spent in school. We are working to make sure that, district by district, these children have tools and projects to explore and to experiment with, so they can have time to learn even when school does not have time for them.
A class of Afghan girls at work on their XOs. Photographed by Elissa Bogos
Note: Some information comes from the latest OLPC Afghanistan Briefing Note.
I became a Save the Children sponsor this week, both because I admire their good works, and because I want to see how they connect donors to specific recipients — something they do as well as any international donor agency. They strongly encourage small recurring donations over larger one-time donations, and I understand why: this is a reason to stay in touch, a reliable predictor of future support, and forges more of an identity than a one-time gift.
This week Brand Labs in Michigan also started a weekly donation to OLPC – giving one laptop a week. Co-founder Dane Downer said of the project:
“The entire world is rapidly going online and the more people that join the Big Conversation, the better off we’ll all be. If we can do a little bit to add some new voices to the chorus, we’ll be extremely proud… We haven’t put an end date on the program because we don’t want it to end.”
We receive a number of one-time donations of more than $10k, but there’s something compelling about this sort of steady project. Thank you to Brand Labs, and to everyone doing what they can each week to support projects they care about.