Non-governmental organizations have a history dating to 18th century, during which they have made a significant influence such as in the fight against slavery or women’s right to vote. Popularly known as NGOs, they usually represent a non-profit and sometimes international organization which is independent of governments and international governmental organizations and are actively fighting for a social or political cause. NGOs can be active in humanitarian, educational, health care, public policy, social, human rights, environmental or other areas. As mentioned, work of an NGO can be oriented on an educational issue; these NGOs are contributing to the Sustainable Development Goal 4: Education; or more precisely, they contribute to ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and to promoting lifelong learning.
Inclusive education means that no student is left behind. There is no place for discrimination based on race, gender, disability or anything else in education. Every child is supposed to be given equal quality education. On the other hand, the concept of lifelong learning refers to a voluntary, self-motivated and self-driven ongoing learning process during the whole life. Learning should just be associated to the childhood, which is a prototypical time for gaining knowledge, but it should also be a daily process in our lives and a product of our daily interactions with the surrounding. Time for gaining knowledge and implementing knowledge shouldn’t be two separate time frames. Going back to the connection of NGOs and Education, we can explore how exactly NGOs can help to support this cause. If you search modern roles of NGOs in education, on Wikipedia you can find following results: 1. Provision of educational access to students without access to public/government education. 2. Advocacy for government to provide access to education for all. 3. Provision of non-formal education. 4. Provision of support for small and rural schools.
For the first task it is important to explain the universal access to education. This concept is connected to the inclusion in education that has already been mentioned. Everybody is given the same education in every education system, no matter the race, gender, social status, and physical or mental disability. NGOs try to support children who are denied this universal access and tries to provide them with education they need. One of the ways they do that is through advocacy. The definition of advocacy says that advocacy is an activity that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems. Such activities are run by an individual or groups. They can include many methods that NGOs usually undertake for example media campaigns, public speaking, conducting and publishing research etc. NGOs can act as implementers, catalysts, and partners. As implementers they provide goods and services to people in need. As catalysts that they try to drive a change by inspiring the community. And as partners they work closely with other organization in order to get the most effective results. Some NGOs act primarily as lobbyists, others develop programs and activities.
What NGOs try to support is also non-formal education and small and rural schools. Non-formal education is crucial in gaining extra skills and knowledge. Such programs don’t have a classical curriculum, syllabus or grading system as formal classes; they don’t even take place in schools. But they do show some level of organization framework. They usually take place at some community settings such as the swimming pool, reading groups, sport clubs or music groups. As for the support of small and rural schools, it is known that many schools have no electricity or water, which can eventually lead to their closing. Other challenges they face is recruiting and retaining teachers, transportation of the children to schools and supplying schools with needed materials and other supplies.
NGOs are very important because of their work and what we as individuals can do is get motivated by them and every other group or individuals that are making a stand for a good cause. Some NGOs have a traditional and some have a modern approach, some fight for girl’s education, some for education in conflict areas; the list goes on and on. Just as these organizations are taking actions, each of us should also take actions for a cause like education. Sometimes it takes only small actions to create a big change.
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