There are many obstacles to obtain an education in developing countries. The public schools are often overcrowded and have limited resources, lacking books and basic school supplies. This makes it difficult for teachers to engage their students and provide a warm learning environment. Not to mention, often classrooms do not have a teacher because they do not show up that day or because there are no resources to compensate the teachers for their time. Also, even though there are public schools, these schools still have attendance fees, required uniforms, and personal school supplies that must be paid out of pocket. Many families do not have the financial ability to pay for their child’s education or through a cost-benefit analysis they find it necessary that their child work during the day instead of attending school.

There are countless organizations, both large and small, that strive to address the issue of access to education through sponsorship programs. We have all seen the advertisements for these – “Please send X amount to sponsor a year of education for a child in need.” However, in recent years, assistance organizations have found that simply providing a low income child access to education is not enough to guarantee educational success. Because of this, many organizations are providing after school enrichment programs and mentorship to support children who are at risk of not receiving an education. For example, Casasito, a community-based organization in Antigua, Guatemala partners with organizations in many rural communities to provide after school learning in topics as diverse as break-dancing, graphic design, civic action, and more. They found that these enrichment activities help students discover that learning is fun and makes them excited to stay in school and continue down that path. Similarly, Anandan, offers vocational learning and enrichment activities for students in the slums of Calcutta, India. Their approach allows students to explore different topics and areas that they otherwise would not get the chance to. Local schools are focused on rote learning and do not foster the creative side of students. For many young people, this is an area that they excel in, but need the chance to express and identify their talent.

In the fall semester, e-collaborate will expand its eKWIP program to several community-based organizations that provide enrichment learning to under-served youth. eKWIP is a rich educational tool that teaches young people necessary skills to compete in the 21st century – both technological capacity and global understanding. e-collaborate believes these to be the two most important skills today’s youth need and it is our goal to provide this opportunity to communities around the world. It will strengthen existing learning communities and expose youth to new experiences and skills that they otherwise might not have.

~Beth Davis, Manager of Educational Programs