It Takes a Healthy, Working Village to Educate Children

A desk with classroom accouterments, like books, colored pencils, and a green apple.

Image: Shutterstock

Educating and supporting children in underserved areas across the world can be more than a little challenging. But organizations like the ones featured here are fighting hard to make the lives of children in one part of the world–Africa–that much brighter. 

Shining Hope for Communities

Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) is one of the leaders innovating sustainable education for children in Africa. This program, and others like it, succeed because of support from leaders in the financial industry like board members Matthew Chanoff, Co-founder, Profounder, Inc.; Timothy Dibble, Managing General Partner, Alta Communications; and Bill E Ford, Chief Executive Officer, General Atlantic.

Students participating in SHOFCO programs are able to achieve an education because they and their families receive free healthcare, food, and the support of social workers trained to support the behavioral health of the entire family. This program succeeds for girls in particular because it addresses cultural traditions that don’t value women and girls, often excluding them from educational opportunities.

Africa Indoor Residual Spraying

Starting in 2001, the Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) program has been protecting millions of Africans from malaria by spraying insecticides in ceilings, walls, and other indoor resting places that welcome disease-carrying mosquitoes. This program uses sprays that don’t harm people or the environment and will reduce costs of treating the disease as well as the number of related deaths.

AIRS is an example of a holistic social service making a difference in the daily lives of the poorest Africans, in both rural and urban settings. The goal of these programs is to improve daily life for the community, since a stable community increases access to education for African children.

Room to Read

Focusing on gender equality and literacy are the defining values Room to Read brings to its constituents in Africa and Asia. This program’s success is partially related to its engagement within the communities it serves. Its educators work with local governments and communities to improve reading skills in an integrated manner. Local companies print the books used in the program, and the book content is always related to the local culture.


Working with rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, the Campaign For Female Education (Camfed) delivers innovative educational services to women and girls in poor communities. Since 1993 they have reached over 1,419,000 students in Ghana, Malwai, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Educating girls transforms the culture and creates educated young women ready to contribute to improving their community. Camfed educational networks include teachers, parents, traditional leaders, social workers, and even local police who all work together and support education initiatives for the student, school, local district, and the nation.

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