October 24, 2012; Source: Brookings Institution

In a recent blog post for the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, Associate Director Xanthe Ackerman and Director Rebecca Winthrop highlight the related facts that the “state of affairs in international education is urgent” and that “individual philanthropy to the sector is a pittance compared to giving for domestic education or international health.” With a focus on the finding that “an estimated 132 million school children are out of school (when considering children of primary or lower secondary age) and millions more are in school but are not learning basic skills,” the authors appeal to individual donors who might be new to the field, stating that their flexibility and familiarity with fields beyond education are valuable assets to charitable organizations.

Not only do Ackerman and Winthrop emphasize the wealth of research currently being done by international organizations (including their own) and the various types of giving opportunities available, but they also highlight the diversity of work being done in the education sector “spanning not only geography and stages of schooling, but also approach.” As a final supporting statement, the authors note the universal importance of education within any society: “Giving to education is a sustainable investment because education creates a positive and reinforcing cycle of development: An educated person will earn more; contribute to society economically and socially; and pass on economic, social, educational and health-related benefits to their children.”

Ackerman and Winthrop’s post is effective even without a single personal story relating the challenges of an international student or student group, but the recent shooting of eighth grade Pakistani student and girls’ education advocate Malala Yousafzai (which NPQ has discussed here and here) has had a very strong and lasting effect on people throughout the world, particularly in the field of international education. As Winthrop stated in an earlier post on the topic, “Violence against girls and women continues to be one of the most prevalent human rights abuses of our time – but so does the much less discussed topic of attacks on education.” She adds, “Oftentimes, as in Malala’s case, the two phenomena are intertwined.” –Anne Eigeman