The Innovator

Education, Social Justice, Innovation

Education Now! Blog Posts by Kelly

Improving Education throughout Uganda 


Only 20 percent of Ugandan rural villages offer secondary education. Recently, the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) has decided to start promoting equality in African Schools.WISE has partnered with the government of Uganda to open eight new schools in rural areas. Many more schools will be created in the coming years, thus allowing students to have better access to an education. TheWorld Bank recently issued astatement “SDI data also reveal regional inequalities, with the Northern region and rural areas faring worst in terms of knowledge levels of teachers and health workers. The average Northern public school Primary Four pupil received about 90 days of teaching time less in a school year than his/her Kampala counterpart”. Many students in Northern Uganda have to walk greater distances just to attend a local school than the students attending school in the city. On top of the distance, the cost for attending private and public schools is high throughout Uganda. WISE hopes that by creating more schools in rural areas of Uganda, it will bridge the gap.

In the article “Uganda: Is Education Overrated? Perhaps Not, But..” from,  Sophie Wamala discusses her personal experience with education in Uganda. Her father would often tell her family that an education would help them attain and sustain employment opportunities. Her father was laid off due to his lack of education in Uganda. Sophie’s father said that his family and community did not encourage him to attend school. Sophie was motivated to do attend school because of her father, due to his financial hardships. Many students throughout Uganda are not motivated to become educated, mostly due to their family upbringing, very similar to Sophie’s father. Even though Sophie attended boarding school, she still struggled trying to find employment.  She started to question whether education was important. Students are faced with attending school and receiving an education or entering the workforce. The appeal of earning money instead of attending school drives students out of the classroom.

Primary school children in Uganda

Primary school children in Uganda

Northern Uganda is a post-conflict area due to the rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA greatly impacted the school system throughout Northern Uganda by attacking schools. The attacks made schools more vulnerable to violence. In my own experience, I worked with a community-based organization that helped twenty students in Gulu, Uganda (a village in the northern region) attend primary and secondary school. During the past six years, five of the twenty students dropped out of school and never reached secondary school. This made me reflect on the educational benefits to students in the rural areas. Why are these students dropping out of school before reaching a secondary school?  What are the subjects being taught to students in rural areas and was there a connection with those students that dropped out of school? Unfortunately, the cost of education in Uganda discourages students from attending school, even if they want to be there. Is the education that is being taught in Uganda allowing for students to get jobs in the future?  Are the teachers or family not motivating students to receive an education? These are a few questions I pondered reading these articles. If WISE is trying to improve the inequalities throughout Uganda, three things need to be looked at: access, content and financial aid.


Gashishiri, S. (2013, Nov 19).Quality of Uganda’s Education and Health Services Poses Serious Risk to Long-Term Economic Progress.

Wamala,S. (2013, Nov 28). Uganda: Is Education Overrated? Perhaps Not But…


Solving Inequality of Education in the United States

I have been thinking about the inequality of education throughout the world. I started thinking about the schools within the United States and felt troubled. How can the United States move forward in education with so many inequalities throughout the education system?

Student holding a sign in regards to Chicago Teacher strike

Student holding a sign in regards to Chicago Teacher strike

Arthur Camins, from theWashington Post, noticed the same inequalities throughout the education system in the United States. Caminswrote about the need to think like engineers. The United States places focus on math and reading scores, but only looks at improvement as a short-term goal. Camins stresses the need to “plan for optimization”, to be able to create plausible long-term goals to solve inequality. By acknowledging that currently parents’ wealth, educational level or location can determine the future for a student, Camins looks at ways to even the playing field. The need for more extensive teacher training, adequate resources and challenging tasks are just some ways to improve the current inequality plaguing the United States.

A sign promoting moving away from teaching to the standardized tests

A sign promoting moving away from teaching to the standardized tests

The New York Times article,Inequality of Education, states that the United States has been contributing“far more public resources are devoted to educating rich children than poor children”.Like Camins,The New York Times notices the inequality depending on the socioeconomic class. School funding is tied to property tax, which means schools receive money based on the location. Property tax is a driving force in the inequality in the public school system. The resources, or lack there of, have been contributing greatly to the inequality in the United States. The growing poverty in the United States is driving the inequality of education. The inequality, according to The New York Times, has been caused by the uneven distribution of wealth within this country. The New York Times feels that the power behind education in the United States is often from “well-to-do” families.


Students in school reading through an outdated textbook

Camins illustrates a great suggestion for how to tackle the inequality of education by focusing on long-term solutions instead of a quick fix.  The New York Times looks at how the distribution of wealth leads to an unequal distribution of resources. I believe the United States has the ability to move toward a more equal public education system. I feel that schools are very dependent on the area’s income. While tutoring in Chicago Public Schools, I was able to witness the lack of resources in the school. This leads me to believe that people who live in a lower socio-economic neighborhood are not receiving the resources they may need to learn. When The New York Times mentioned that the wealthy have more power in policy making, it made me reflect on dependency theory. I felt that the wealthy communities can be seen as the core, controlling the education system. This cannot be fixed overnight and will take years to change. My hopes are that these articles are able to help make small changes in the focus throughout our education system.


Camins, A(2013, Nov 30). How thinking like an engineer can help school reform.

Leeman, C (2013, Nov 7). Inequality of Education.

Gender Inequality in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has recently been subjected to war, rape, rebel groups and gender inequality over the years. According to the Brookings Institution, around 48 women during the conflict were raped every hour. The gender-based violence is rising among the displaced people of the DRC. When women are separated from their families, they become more vulnerable to sexual and gender violence. Dr. Mukwege said, “Conflict merely amplifies these pre-existing inequalities.” The Brooking Institution discusses how education can eradicate the inequalities throughout the Congo. What type of education have students and communities been receiving? Have there been initiatives to try to close the gap between gender inequalities?


A woman in the DRC

A woman in the DRC

According to the Pandagonthe outward response on gender inequalities has been coming from the United Nations. “The UN set itself the target of eliminating gender disparity in education at all levels by 2015, as one of its Millennium Development Goals.”  There are gender disparities stem throughout the education system. According to, government of the DRC and UN agencies are trying to educate and engage men in preventing violence against women. The schools in the DRC are also trying to break the stereotypes that may cause gender violence to occur. While educating men about how to prevent these attacks from happening, many campaigns to end violence against women have started. The campaigns have started to empower women to break out of their stereotypical roles and be seen as equals. The campaigns are short lived and leave smaller impacts. There is a need to focus on revising the curriculum in order to break gender stereotypes and empower women.


Women campaigning for gender equality in the DRC

Women campaigning for gender equality in the DRC

Women campaigning to end violence against women

Women campaigning to end violence against women

The conflict within the DRC magnified the gender disparities, leading to gender violence. The violence against women is still alive today, but the hope for gender equality is on the horizon. The government is improving education throughout the DRC that will try to lessen the gap between men and women. The teachers are being trained to break the stereotypes of men and women within their classrooms. I think that many girls in the DRC are brought up believing that their calling is to serve men (Women Thrive Worldwide), which gives communities the idea that women are subordinate to men. Many women in the DRC believe they are supposed to serve men in any capacity, which allows for an environment for gender and domestic violence to occur. I think that the many campaigns, leadership programs and education programs are trying to change that stereotype of women, but teachers and communities need to focus on empowerment. By empowering women, they are able to break out of stereotypical roles and fight for equality. I believe that by teaching students and communities about equality, it will lead to less gender violence throughout the DRC. By making communities more aware of the problem, community members will be able to work toward a solution.


Bradley,M. (2013, Nov 13). Sexual and Gender-based Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Opportunities for Progress as M23 Disarms?

Pandagon. (2013, Nov 8). Addressing gender equality in poor countries.

Glaser, L. (2013, Oct 9). In the DRC: Using Education to Change Gender Stereotypes

Sonke Gender Justice. (2013, Nov 27). Congo-Kinshasa: New Comprehensive Gender Study in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for Psychosocial Support to Stop the Violence

Child Marriage and Education

Posted on November 18, 2013 by Kelly

Recently child brides have been gaining attention worldwide. India’s refusal to co-sponsor the end to child marriage resolution has brought out many questions regarding education and child marriage throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization there are over 13.5 million girls around the world getting married before their 18th birthday. Since poverty is on the rise in countries like Yemen, fathers feel it is their duty to marry their daughters in order to preserve family honor and to get out of debt. Many husbands will pay their wife’s family’s debt in order to marry her.

Yemen child brides with their husbands

Yemen child brides with their husbands

Child marriage should be a worldwide concern because of the health affects on young brides. Many of these child brides are becoming injured or die due to internal injuries from sexual intercourse or giving birth. Pregnancy is the main cause of death in girls ages 15-19 worldwide (World Heath Organization). By uniting to end child marriage, there is increasing support for girls’ education. Education can provide opportunities other than marriage for young girls. Education can lead to more jobs, motivation, and empowerment for women. When girls are not in schools they feel that marriage is their only choice. They are trained to be good wives. When a girl feels empowered, she feels that she will be able to control her own life. “Educating girls is one of the best investments we can make”, said Pauline Rose, director of the EFA Global Monitoring Report, “and yet 31 million girls of primary school age out of school, and 17 million are expected never to enter school at all. This situation desperately needs addressing.”

With unemployment in many countries on the rise, many will turn to child marriage as a last resort.  If girls are given an opportunity to change their life, child marriage can be avoided. If we are able to improve girls’ education, then countries can mitigate the number of girls who are passing away due to early pregnancy.  Many statistics, for example, claim that if countries improve girls’ education, child marriage will significantly decrease.  So with that said, what are other ways governments can help families to seek out choices for their young daughters other than marriage?


Pmnews. (2013, Oct 11). Education of girls will end child marriage, says UNESCO. P.m. News Nigeria.

Gohain, M.(2013, Oct 10) Educating girls could prevent two-thirds of child marriages: Unesco. The Times of India.

Jamjoom, M. (2013, Sept 16). Yemen minister on child marriage: Enough is enough. Cnn.

Lemmon, G. (2013, Oct 12). Child brides robbed of their future. Cnn.

Stuart, H. (2013 Oct 16). India refuses to co-sponsor un resolution to end child marriage. The Huffington Post.

Abu-Dayyehh, S. (2013, Nov 20). Yemen to finally ban child marriage? The Daily Beast.


Transforming Girls’ Education in Kenya

Education can open many doors for girls across the world. Looking closely at Kenya, girls’ education is on the brink of transforming. According to the article Kakenya Ntaiya: Bringing Education to Kenya’s Girls in National Geographic, a woman named, Ntaiya, is now giving girls in Kenya the opportunity to put off marriage by pursuing an education first. Education has been shown to delay marriage for girls throughout the world.Ntaiya started a single-sex boarding school for girls to allow them to focus solely on their education.Ntaiya illustrates how girls from a young age are trained to become good wives and mothers by cooking, cleaning and watching over the children in their household. The girls in Ntaiya’s boarding school are out performing students in Kenya.  The girls in her boarding school are not subjected to the traditional genital mutilation many girls throughout Kenya face even though it has been outlawed.

Girls at Kakenya's Center for Excellence working

Girls at Kakenya’s Center for Excellence working

In the article, Co-Educational schools are Bad for Girlsfeatured in The Guardian, it shows how single sex schools is helping girls to fight the stereotypes. It examines how many subjects taught in co-educational schools are gender biased and highlight many male achievements. Single-sex schools allow girls to not feel compelled to follow traditional roles according to The Guardian. “Girls will only be able to get a fair chance in life when the boys they study alongside see them as equals, and we’re not there yet. ” In many countries throughout the world today girls aren’t viewed as equals. Single-sex schools are trying to close the equality gap by giving girls the chance to explore many opportunities.

A girl advocating for Girls' Education

A girl advocating for Girls’ Education

I believe that by separating the girls from their home responsibilities, it gives them the ability to explore other options. When girls are given equal educational opportunities, it creates a more even playing field. Many girls shy away from subjects such as fields such as math and science. I feel that The girls withinNtaiya’s boarding school show a small transformation of what girls’ education worldwide can become. If girls don’t feel compelled to follow traditional gender norms than they will likely hold off marriage until at least 18. Hopefully with girls’ education becoming more recognized around the world, countries will place more importance of keeping girls in school.


Bloch, H. (2013, Oct 29). Kakenya Ntaiya: Bringing Education to Kenya’s Girls. National Geographic’s.

Parmar, B. (2013 Oct 30). Co-educational schools are bad for girls. The Guardian.

Ntaiya, K. (2013) Kakenya Center for Excellence.



Higher Education in Refugee Camps in Kenya


Posted on October 17, 2013 by Kelly


According to The New York Times the early 1990s, many of Somalia’s citizens fled to Dadaab, Kenya. They were fleeing the civil war within their country and did not feel safe staying. Dadaab, Kenya soon became home to Somali refugees. 500,000 refugees reside in the refugee camps in Dadaab. This makes it the largest refugee complex in the world. Currently around the world, only 1 percent of refugees are enrolled in higher education. This is a problem in refugee camps today that Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) is trying to eliminate.

Recently on October 6, 2013, The New York Times outlined the new pilot program from BHER for students in these Dadaab refugee camps. Prior to this pilot program, these camps only offered elementary to high school education. BHER is allowing refugees to receive access to higher education. BHER will allow 400 students to earn teaching certificates; this will impact the community greatly. By empowering students to receive higher education certificates in education, health, and policy, BHER is giving them the tools to be able to rebuild their country. The Jesuit Refugee Service has also sponsored students in the Kenyan refugee camps to receive degrees from accredited universities. There are many other programs that have been trying to provide higher education opportunities for refugees throughout the world such as “The Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative”. These programs will give refugees more options than manual labor careers.

Since this is a pilot program, researchers will be able to monitor the progress. If this program shows positive progress BHER will be able to expand this program and start implementing their program in other refugee camps throughout the world. This program has the potential to create a catalyst for improving education in post-conflict areas. As mentioned in The New York Times article, humanitarians get excited about solutions. If the workers implementing these programs jump to soon to a conclusion it may impact the future for higher education in refugee camps throughout the world.

The students enrolled in the higher education program will be trying to create change in their own government. These programs are enabling future leaders to lead their country. These students are being given the opportunity to be able to further their education beyond schooling. Many humanitarians hope that the higher education programs will actually allow for change to occur throughout the Dadaab refugee camp.

Staff house for BHER learning center

Staff house for BHER learning center

How are the refugees affecting Kenya? Somalia is just over the border from Dadaab, Kenya. Aid workers in these refugee camps have gone missing and this area of Kenya has become very dangerous. Many Somali people also fled Somalia to avoid drought, famine and conflict. Kenya is facing drought and famine as well. The Doctors without Borders who have traveled to the Dadaab camp have said that the conditions were disastrous according to the Human Rights Watch. Should we be focusing more on education or health care in refugee camps?  Living in the refugee camp is a very different way of life, with limited freedoms and access to food. The Somali refugees have lost their freedom. According to Kenya’s acting district commissioner for the town of Dadaab, they are not allowed to move around the camp or outside the camp without a movement pass.

Secondary school in Dudaab

Secondary school in Dudaab

Recently there has been talk about closing the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, according to the Defense Committee. In the recent events of the Westgate Mall attack, many are questioning Kenya’s security. It is questionable whether Somalia is a safe place or not. Prior to the Westgate attack, Kenya denied allegations of closing the refugee camps in early 2012.

I believe that placing higher education programs in refugee camps, such as the ones in Kenya, may come with many questions on the sustainability to continue in the future. If security becomes a bigger problem that Kenya cannot avoid due to the refugee camps, many people will be sent to other countries or back to Somalia. It is hard to tell if Somalia will be safe will be sage enough to return to within the next year, but I feel that this program is a step in the right direction.

Computer lab

Computer lab at BHER



Brownell, G. (2013, Oct 6). Bringing Universities to Refugee Camps in Kenya. The New York Times.

Chonghaile, C. (2012, Feb 22). Kenya denies planning to close world’s largest Somalia refugee camp at Dadaab. The Guardian.

Jesuit Refugee Service. (2013, Sep 24). Kenya and Malawi: first graduation of university    students sponsored by the Jesuit Refugee Service. Reliefweb.


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