Child labor has persistently posed a global challenge, acting as a barrier to children’s education and jeopardizing their future. According to figures from the World Bank, the number of working children significantly decreases as the rate of educational attainment increases. This observation spans the period between 1977 and 2017, revealing a potential inverse correlation between child labor and education attainment.
Situation in Lebanon
World Bank figures indicate a significant decrease in the rate of children in the labor market between 2000 and 2020; however, there was a slight increase in 2021. The issue is intricately complicated, with various factors severely affecting public school education. Firstly, the number of students enrolling in public schools from refugee camps has notably increased since 2011. Locally, the severe financial crisis has deeply impacted the Ministry of Education’s budget since 2019, compounded by other factors such as the devaluation of the Lira, the Beirut Port explosion, and COVID-19 lockdowns.
Statistics reveal that child labor is more prevalent among male children in Lebanon. However, relying solely on these figures is insufficient, given the existence of different forms of informal labor not addressed by the World Bank and the International Labor Organization.
In the absence of updates from international institutions or local government agencies, I turned to various surveys conducted by local stakeholders and international NGOs. These surveys shed light on the deteriorating quality of education, particularly in public schools and, to a lesser extent, within private schools.
Roadmap towards a solution
Various stakeholders, including the Lebanese government and international institutions, should collaborate to initiate a comprehensive multi-stakeholder plan aimed at reversing the deteriorating quality in the public school system. In addition to financial support, this plan should address critical factors such as the number of schools, the availability of qualified teachers, and curriculum improvements.
On the government front, it is imperative to establish coordination among three key ministries: Education, Labor, and Social Affairs. This collaborative effort will create a legal framework addressing child labor issues, implementing a high-quality educational curriculum, and promoting awareness within the most affected segments of society.
Education is the cornerstone of development, unlocking doors to a brighter future. Education plays an essential role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The persistent challenge of education in African countries, particularly for adolescents, has always been an obstacle, contributing to the developmental lag experienced of these nations.
Adolescents out of school in 2012:
In 2012, a large percentage of adolescents were out of schools. Reasons vary but they can be summarized in
Inadequate educational infrastructure
Social disparities especially marriage
Barriers to access in rural areas
Shortage of qualified teachers
Limited access to modern teaching materials
Adolescents-out-of-school rate in African Countries:
The map assures visually and represents educational challenge with larger red circles denote higher percentages where the adolescents-out-of-school rate is really high in comparison to other countries.
The high marriage rates in often limit access to formal learning opportunities. The social expectations surrounding marriage can act as a barrier, particularly for young girls, impeding their ability to complete their education. However, fast forward to 2022, a shift in the educational landscape had occurred. In 2016, marriage rates for girls under 15 stood at a shocking 93%. However, a line chart traced a journey of change from 2016 to 2017, witnessing a substantial drop to 62%. The trend continued into the years 2020 and 2021, where the marriage rate further decreased to a promising 29%.
Now, this shows the rate of out-of-school adolescents that had fallen. Hope began to blossom becoming an inspiration of progress in the (SDGs).
Correlation between Marriage and School enrollment:
The story unfolded with a realization – the decline in early marriages played a key role in fostering educational empowerment with a correlation between decrease in marriage rates and increase in school enrollment. Yet, a small number is still beyond the ideas of education.
Urgent Call for action:
Community Engagement and Awareness
Investment in Infrastructure
Government Policy Reforms
Teacher Training and Support
Partnerships with NGOs and Corporations
Monitoring and Evaluation
The tale of progress in African education reminds the world that transformation is possible when communities unite, prioritize education, and nurture the dreams of their youth…
Unveiling some of many risks of early marriage, and the significance of a call for action.
Picture yourself at the tender age of 15, and your parents decided to deprive you from one of your most basic rights: education. And why? so that you could marry some boy you barely know from your village and who might be at least 7 to 8 years older than you. Envision the scenario where instead of classrooms and friends and books, having an arranged marriage with a stranger.
Now imagine the challenges of becoming a mother at the age of 16, the physical abuse this will put you through, and zero financial independence to break the cycle of mental and physical violence this put you in. Such narrative may seem from the past, in our great grandparents’ era maybe, but do you know this still happens? In many regions in the world, it will make you frustrated. Do you care to delve into the risks of those girls?
We might not be living them, and most probably do not know anyone that is, but this is a call to sympathy and awareness, so even if we are shielded and blessed, countless girls out there aren’t.
Let’s dive into those risks.
Around the world, child marriage is a widespread and deeply ingrained social issue that impacts millions of children, especially girls. When one or both partners are under the age of 18, it refers to an informal union. Even while we have made great strides in many areas of human growth, these unsettling realities still exist in some parts of the world, especially in less developed nations and regions like Africa and some Arab regions.
The health problems that young brides confront are among the most urgent; early pregnancies raise the risk of maternal death and difficulties after childbirth. Girls forced into early marriages sometimes find themselves taken away from school, which harms their educational goals and leads to increased literacy. Additionally, early marriages come with a higher rate of domestic abuse.
Beyond physical health, there is a significant psychological cost. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can be factual consequences. Little girls have little to no financial independence which keeps them stuck in this loop. Hovering over the countries, we can see that most of those in darker shade of blue are African countries, and other less developed countries including Bangladesh, Chad, Niger, Mali, and others. The treemap serves to highlight some of these countries where this is highly prevalent.
Poverty, is one of the root causes of Early Marriage which is shown below, that poverty is relatively high in the countries mentioned in this study. Parents in less developed countries think of their daughters as financial burdens which is why they take them out of school and force them into marrying young. Limited living resources force families to believe that marriage is a way of surviving. In the same countries we put into study, we can see that the Poverty Headcount is large in most of them.
According to UNICEF, 21% of young women (aged 20 to 24) were married as children. Before turning eighteen, one in five females gets married. That figure doubles in the least developed nations, where 12% of girls get married before turning 15 and 40% of girls get married before turning 18. This is 28 girl every minute. The below visuals show that the countries in study are mainly located in Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Asia, have their women justify being beaten by their husbands and still normalize it, have young girls out of school, and have higher risks of maternal death, meaning that early marriage may cause all the below. These are just some amongst many consequences.
Countries including Bangladesh, Senegal, Niger, Uganda, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Guinea, and many more, seemed to always have these issues combined.
Can you believe that 17.48% of women in Bangladesh justify being beaten? Followed by 11.63% in Mali, 10.80% in Ethiopia, ranking the top 3 among many other countries.
Additionally, 18.41%, followed by 13.19% and 9.19% in Niger, Guinea, and Mozambique respectively.
The Bubble Chart serves to highlight countries where Maternal Death Risk is most prevalent as well. Is it a coincidence that the same countries that have high early marriage rates, almost rank high in all three risks?
It is imperative to save young girls from forced marriage, give them the right education they deserve, decrease their risk of dying while giving birth, mitigate the physical and mental abuse, and give them the right to just be little girls.
Collectively, we can combat early marriage and create an atmosphere where girls feel empowered to continue their education and make educated decisions about their futures, to mitigate the risks.
It can include educational awareness, health awareness, social awareness against violence and domestic abuse, free training, and educational programs, etc.
Details of the solution:
Promoting access to quality education especially for girls by making it free especially in the less developed countries where parents would rather not spend any money on their girls and see them as financial burdens.
Conducting awareness campaigns on the potential side effects of child marriages.
Create economic opportunities for girls through skill development and training to enhance their financial independence.
Promotion of Gender Equality.
Engaging parents in these campaigns on the importance of financial stability and independence before marriage.
The solution may also include legal consequences.
Leveraging social media to raise awareness!
Findings and Recommendations:
The recommendations are centered around the efforts that should be made to enforce the laws setting a minimum age for marriage, additionally to challenging the cultural norms and conducting awareness activities, setting a legal age for marriage, support and healthcare systems, educational and training initiatives and provide girls with the circumstances that allow them to make their own decisions.
Did you know?
Even though the average percentage of Children out of school is declining over the years, studies showed that almost 20% of children in low-income countries and 10% in lower middle-income countries are still out of primary school in 2021.
What are these children doing?
The highest % of children in employment is found in the low-income countries, followed by the lower middle-income countries where the highest % of children out of school coexists.
This shows that these countries cannot afford the education of their children and thus shift them to work instead in order to support their families’ living expenses.
Who should we blame?
While these countries have the lowest income, they score the highest birth rates compared to other countries as shown below.
The low-income countries have a 44% birth rate reflected by their ignorance on the importance of birth control and contraceptive prevalence with only 23%.
Is 23% enough? No.
Children have the right to be educated, and a big responsibility falls on the parents who give birth to children and force them to work, knowing that they cannot afford their education.
The access to electricity and internet usage across the years has been increasing in all the countries including the low-income ones.
However, it is important to highlight that with all this increase, only 40% of the population in low-income countries have access to electricity and only 21% of them use the internet in 2020.
This evolution has pushed the adult literacy rate across the years to increase.
The more the adults have literacy and can surf through internet facilities, the more they understand the importance of children education and therefore decreasing the % of children out of school.
The main reason behind the decrease in % of children out of school through years is the increase in education expenditures in primary public institutions, along with the increase in access to electricity and internet usage which facilitates the education feasibility for the children and the adults literacy in these countries.
Knowing that the low-income countries cannot afford the education of their children, while their birth rate is increasing, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in the United Nations should ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all #SDG4 #SDG4.1 by supporting these countries through funding the tuition fees of their children along with educating the parents on the importance of contraceptive prevalence and maybe set regulations in collaboration with the governments to limit the birth rate allowed in the low income countries.
Education is the pillar of society. Education is the only way to a good life. Education is the future.
But do it smartly.
With every generation coming on, every aspect of life is changing whether it’s the way you communicate with others, how you move from one place to another, EVERYTHING. Continuous learning will always show good results, either in the short term or the long term. However, one must not overdo it. Looking back at the last two decades, humanity has experienced several major events, COVID having the biggest impact. As businesses shut down, lockdowns and social distancing imposed, numerous people found themselves jobless, regardless what their experience or level of education is.
We can see on the map how unemployment rates have been increasing around the world in the last decade, especially in the last two years when COVID had a heavy impact. To dig deeper into the level of education of unemployed individuals, we can see in the second graph how individuals with basic, intermediate, and advanced education faced an increase in unemployment rates between 2019 and 2020. This graph shows had advancement in education has led to lower unemployment rates, hence showing the impact that higher education had during the COVID crisis where firms were cutting down on expenses by keeping individuals who can handle a heavier load. In the Education graph, we can see how figures for most educational levels have increased in 2020. This shows how the pandemic has reminded people of the importance of continuous education, however, the impact of this increase was not seen directly.
Continuing education is definitely a great plan for people to follow in order to keep improving and moving forward in their careers, lives, or personal growth. However, one should allocate enough time and effort to decide on the next step they are planning to take as the pandemic has shown us how some people with specific levels of education in certain fields are irreplaceable. More awareness should be shared with people of all ages, to show them the importance of education, and more importantly how to decide the optimal path for them.