#315: Student Venture Seeks To Remake Slums To Support Education
October 22, 2015 - Read the full Your Mark on the World article and watch the interview here: http://bit.ly/1NnSszg. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ymotwitunes or on Stitcher by clicking here: http://bit.ly/ymotwstitcher. “One hundred and twelve million children lack access to high-quality, reliable, affordable early childhood education [ECE]. It’s a fundamental injustice that caps their potential and robs children of the futures they deserve,” says SOMOS Managing Director, Anne Friedman. SOMOS was recently recognized as a Hult Prize finalist at the Clinton Global Initiative. Anne explains further, “Children who don’t receive high quality ECE in the first 5 years of life suffer from depressed educational and health outcomes, starting school about 2 years behind and never catching up. Even family stability decades later is affected by the education a young child receives. The problem is that potential is distributed equally but opportunity is not. Millions of children born into poverty are never given a fair chance to succeed and are then condemned for their failure in adulthood. It’s a tragic violation of the human right to dignity, life, and the pursuit of potential.” SOMOS is a student-led social venture that was created to address the problem of unequal access to ECE. Anne describes the effort, saying, “We’re giving parents the tools and support they need to change their children’s lives. First, healthy childhood development is predicated on high-quality interaction with a loving adult. For many and complicated reasons, the norms around parenting in situations of urban poverty often lead to suboptimal outcomes for kids. They simply don’t get as much developmentally beneficial interaction as their more affluent peers. But that’s easily changed! Give parents simple, fun suggestions for how to integrate their child’s education into their daily lives and they do it!” “We deliver world class, age appropriate educational curricula directly to their mobile phone. We do it in small groups of parents so they can provide advice and support to each other. Not only are the benefits of peer-to-peer learning proven and significant, we believe having a community of support that follows a child for a lifetime is critical to changing his life trajectory. Many of the benefits of most of the world’s best early childhood education programs are lost before 3rd grade. We wanted to make sure they last and we think community is the way to make that happen,” she continued. Anne shared the SOMOS vision of the future with me: Call to mind your vision of a “slum.” Maybe it’s the favelas of Brazil, the townships of South Africa, the barrios of Mexico City, or the housing projects of Chicago. Imagine the kids growing up there and what their lives must be like. Now, imagine that every single one of them graduates high school prepared for college and/or jobs with dignity that allow them to provide for their families. Imagine their parents woven together into a safety net that doesn’t allow any of their children to fall through the cracks. That’s what we want to build. We want to connect parents with each other, and the resources they need, to turn their “slums” into safe-havens, to give themselves and their kids the futures they deserve. Please consider whether a friend or colleague might benefit from this piece and, if so, share it.