My International Contacts – Part 1

As I have not quite heard back from my international contacts, I thought, why not share what I have learned through my time in South Korea.

South Korea and poverty in the area I lived.

In South Korea, poverty is more towards the elderly, but it was noticeable in my classroom as well. At my main school, I taught 27 students in a class, where about 2% of students came from a house with a low income. These students you can spot from a mile. They were usually wearing older clothes than the others, they were much more withdrawn in the classroom, and they struggled with their subjects. I also noticed they were the ones who got sick much more easily and would stay out of school then falling behind.

Mostly these students will act out from time to time, seeking some kind of attention. Some of these students parents did not care as well. I have had situations where I talked with the homeroom teacher, offering extra help for the students who fall behind, but there was no support for some of these students. They were seen as a hopeless case.

In South Korea, the government does have additional finances going towards education for these families who are struggling, but from what I have heard from co-workers is that there have been some budget cuts on education and teachers.

One big part where the money comes in is the extra classes. My students went to school from 8:30 to 4 pm, then most of them go to “academies” as they call them. Either it would be math, science, English, Social studies, music, any subject. Even my little grade 1’s went to the extra academies until 8 pm. These extra academies cost a fortune for the parents. Parents who are not poor, but not very wealthy either, would struggle to send their children here…which means, in a classroom back at school, your more affluent students have all the extra exposure to their subjects, where families leaning towards poverty doesn’t have this exposure, thus making them struggle in class.

I think students living in poverty are definitely suffering. When I just look at myself and how my reactions affect my everyday life with being a little hungry, or too cold or too hot or living in abusive households. These things make a substantial contribution towards how I live. Living in these poor environments is unfair to a child. Children have a right to education, and to have the full development they deserve until they can make their own decisions.

Children’s basic needs have to be met before there can be any focus on education. Many of the children living in poverty did not choose it. They were born out of a mistake, abuse, and many other reasons. I feel it is very unfair that they don’t get the education they need, because of an adult’s bad choices or the way the world is turning around.

UNICEF and their amazing efforts

Unicef has made themselves well known across the world. I remember living in Korea they had separate TV channels that showed sites you can join to donate. The pictures and videos they used for these channels made you feel a good amount of guilty when sitting on your lovely couch drinking your hot chocolate.

I took a look at some help UNICEF shows in the African Countries. Africa is a very big continent and the need for help is extremely big. UNICEF shows help in Eastern and Southern Africa.

“The focus is on reaching all children, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.”

UNICEF supports programmes in these areas:

Young child survival and development: Maternal and New Born Health, Nutrition, Immunization, Malaria, Water, sanitation and hygiene, Basic Education, and Child Protection are just a few to mention.

Over the past two decades, Eastern and Southern Africa, together with the rest of the world, has achieved a significant decline in under-five mortality. In 1990, 1 in 6 children died before their fifth birthday; by 2012, this number had dropped to 1 in 13, a more than 50 percent decline.

Across the region, children continue to die from causes that can be easily prevented. More than 40 percent of child deaths were caused by pneumonia (17 percent), malaria (14 percent), or diarrhea (10 percent). Undernutrition is also a big killer, contributing to nearly half of all under-five deaths.

Just reading all the facts get me teary!! This is so unfair to those children. They are suffering due to what other people decided for them. They are suffering because parents were not educated on having children. They are suffering because of abuse, rape, and things I don’t even want to think about.

Even though UNICEF is making big contributions, will it ever be enough?

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