Everyone knows that education can be a path out of poverty. But paying for education is not always easy and many people do not have access to traditional banking facilities. That is where microfinancing projects can help. We looked at three examples in Yemen, the UK and Bolivia.
In Yemen, many people live on less than two dollars a day, which puts university out of financial reach for many young people. The uprising in Yemen in 2011 managed to oust Abdullah Saleh’s regime, seen as corrupt and leaving more than half of the population below the poverty line. Despite poor conditions, many young Yemenis have invested in individual and collective struggle for a better future.
In Taiz, we met Abdullah Othman Alqadi who is one of many young people in Yemen fighting for change, he dreams of one day becoming the president. In the morning Abdullah works as an English teacher, in order to pay his university tuition fees. Although his salary is low, Abdullah managed to save for his studies with the help of the Amal Bank, otherwise known as the bank of the poor.
In the UK adults are feeling the effects of the credit crunch, and one charity is teaching kids how to manage their money better. Inspired by microcredit projects in Bangladesh ‘MyBnk’ has been teaching young people in deprived areas about banking since 2007. Courses range from the very basics, such as where to open their first bank account and moves on to more complex concepts like credit and debt.
Lily Lapenna, the founder of ‘MyBnk’, believes it is important to teach basic financial principles as early as possible. She is pushing for the government to add financial education to the UK curriculum. Word is spreading. Now even private schools have expressed interest in the scheme.
In Bolivia the ‘Cerro Rico’ was said to be made of silver, but for the people of Potosi life is not easy. Everyone works in the mines, even the children. Due to centuries of non-stop extraction, the mines resemble Swiss cheese. The 600 shafts are prone to collapse.
Now there is a way out of the mines and into a different life. Microcredit programmes such as the one funded by Swiss association ‘Voix Libres’ allow women to re-train and stop sending their children down the mines to support their families. We met Claudia Fernandez who re-trained as a carpenter and now runs a workshop. Her 16-year-old son Diego is now out of the mines and in school, all thanks to microcredit.
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