China's economic development has grown significantly over the past decade. Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong are some of China's biggest and wealthiest cities. When people think of China, they often think of it as the biggest manufacturing power in the world. However, popular media often fails to shed light to what's happening and been happening in the rest of the country. Often times, we also forget that China is still a developing country.
According to pbr.org and their 2013 World Population Data Sheet, China makes up for about 1,357 millions of the world's population. 2010's statistics from gov.cn claim that 50.23% of the Chinese population lives in the rural areas of the country. This would imply that over 600 million people are struggling to survive in remote areas most people (visitors, tourists) will never get to see!
Like many other countries, coastal regions are often better developed. China is divided into two parts; one half is made of industrially cluttered regions, while the other half of the country is either covered by high mountains or dry deserts. The two maps below illustrate China's Economic inequality:
Higher poverty rates often happen in areas where the educational system has failed its residents. Although the Chinese government maintains and controls education through the Ministry of Education, there is still a huge disparity in education between urban areas and the rural areas of the country.
- Below are China News' overall statistics for literacy:
- 10% of the population has gone to college and higher
- 15% have high school diploma
- 42% have received middle school education
- 29% receive elementary education
- 4% have not received any education whatsoever
This presents a tremendous problem since that would mean that about 75% of the population in China doesn't even have a high school diploma. Hence, it is no surprise the economic inequality for China is so broad.
So what do we do?
Keeping in mind that isolation prevents growth, and that contributing to a sustainable and positive permanent change is in our hands, are the first steps. Part of our mission at Hopechain International is to create a platform for people who wish to make personal contributions to achieve justice, and peace. Through our projects, we've learned that giving economically struggling people the chance to receive an education can make a worlds difference. By facilitating, encouraging, empowering and working side by side with the locals, we can heighten human and economic development, while strengthening friendships at the same time.
By law, education is free and compulsory in Haiti for children between the ages of 7 and 13. In practice, access to education is sharply limited by school location, language comprehension (as the classes are taught in French), the cost of school clothes and supplies, and the availability of teachers. Only about 40 percent of the 1.3 million eligible children actually attend school, which are largely privatized. About 53 percent of the population is literate in either French or Haitian Creole.
According to the World Bank's figures, 84% of school teachers not qualified, the quality of education is poor and children in grade three, on average, read less than 23 words per minute. Over 80% of the schools are private and expensive. Many poor families, hoping to give their children an education, spend upwards of 60% of their income on supplies, uniforms, and other educational costs.
The history of education in Haiti lends to the problems that the country still suffers. After the Haitian Revolution, a peace was brokered between Haiti and France. Once the education system was established in 1805, French Catholic missionaries went to Haiti and exclusively taught in the schools that were Vatican controlled. They would only teach in French and condemned Haitians and questioned their ability to self-govern as part of their lesson plans. The Education Act of 1848 led an effort to build schools in rural areas but due to living conditions, access to resources was still limited. Throughout the nation's history, despite several attempts, by several different powers, the literacy rate has been one of the lowest in the world.
Income inequality is still a major issue for the nation. According to the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the overall poverty in Haiti is 77%. In rural areas, home to 60% of the population, 88% is poor and two-thirds of that group is extremely poor. Rural people have a per capita income that is about one-third of the income of people living in urban areas. Much of this was true, even before that fateful day when Haiti was changed forever.
On January 12, 2010, A 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook the nation's capital, but more devastatingly, the nation's spirit. Over 230,000 people lost their lives in the quake and much of their physical history laid in ruin. This led to a massive humanitarian aid campaign. While supplies and aid helped rebuild the infrastructure of the nation, aid to the schools around the country has still been limited. As was the case before the earthquake, the rural schools are the last to receive the help they sorely need.
Below is an overview of Haiti in graphs and charts, according to The Lambi Fund of Haiti's website:
Although President Enrique Pe?a Nieto has made it a point to change the educational reform in Mexico, there is still a big disparity in rural vs. urban education. The findings through research on the educational system brought to light many issues the country faces and how wealth irregularities affect the youth and their future.
According to an article published by the LA Times in 2012, the teachers' union (SNTE) and their leader, Elba Esther Gordillo commonly known as "La Maestra", were blamed by many for the dysfunctional Mexican educational system; a system that allowed "teachers to buy or inherit their jobs, regardless of skill or qualifications". And although she was arrested after being accused of embezzlement in February 2013, not much has changed for the country. In David Toscana's Article, "The Country That Stopped Reading" he explains his frustration upon realizing the level of reading from most of the students was of kindergarteners. He goes on to say that "Mexico spends more than 5 percent of its gross domestic product on education - about the same percentage as the United States". However, it is important to emphasize that the students Toscana encountered and is referring to in his article are urban students. The story for rural students and they community seems to be worse, and not shockingly so with most of the states being on different poverty levels.
The statistics gathered by VOXXI stated "that one of the most striking statistics for Mexico is the ratio of income between the richest and the poorest 10 percent. There, a person in the top 10 percent has an average income almost 30 times as high as someone in the bottom 10 percent, which is the highest value across OECD countries." In addition, there are "about 52 million Mexicans living below the federal poverty line."
The following map illustrates the nominal GDP (in US dollars) by regions throughout Mexico:
As many other third world countries, the pattern repeats. The difference between the educational experiences of urban and rural children is vast and it is directly tied up to the economy and the resources per area. According to the article by ericdigests.org, the number of small communities has increased over the years, and typically these communities are forgotten and neglected. It is also common to find educators who are not willing to make the trip to teach or that often cannot afford the trips. The story is similar for the students, who also cannot afford uniforms or school supplies. According to the same article, "despite historical advancements and heroic efforts by educators, Mexico continues to struggle with "rezago," or educational failure. Millions of students are retained or drop out after primary school and secondary school. Rural communities--especially those of Indigenous people where millions of citizens speak Spanish as a second language--have high rates of poverty"
From the data we collected, it would appear that the regions populated by the indigenous people are the same as the most vulnerable parts. Not to mention that the local schools in these regions and are often subject to racism and ridicule. The physical conditions of these small schools are decayed. Just like in Haiti, the curriculum is taught in Spanish but the local children speak many different native languages and dialects.
As the privatization of primary and secondary school increases, the public school system suffers, and so do the communities who cannot afford to go elsewhere. This is why Hopechain strongly believes these small and neglected communities can benefit from all of our programs. To achieve equal education for these underserved children is our goal. We want to make sure everyone has a the opportunity to quality education, and that it is not only just to have all the students who are the most eager to learn and succeed but also necessary since they do not have the resources to do so.
Below it's the general overview to Mexico's educational system: