Thursday, February 7, 2008

Impoverished Minority Youth Get a Lifeline Out of Poverty

Kristen Smith, February 7 2008, 12:49 pm, Poverty and Inequality

In China, children who live in poverty are often not able to finish their schooling. Because of their family's financial issues, they must often drop out of school (usually by age 8 or 9) to help with the family farm or family business. Parents see abandoning school as extremely beneficial for the whole family, because money is saved on books and uniforms, and because the children can then contribute to the family income. While their parents may see it as a great option, more and more children are growing up completely unsatisfied with not finishing their schooling. China now has a group of teenagers who are "stuck" in between childhood and adulthood. They have not had enough schooling to get into college and their social skills are lacking because they missed out on such a great opportunity to socialize with people their own age.

To begin fixing this problem, UNICEF and CAST (China Association for Science and Technology) have created a program for these children who have dropped out due to their family's financial status. The program is called "Driving Dreams" and is targeted to teenagers (age 10-18) who live in the rural areas of China and who have not had much schooling. The program teaches all sorts of skills, from hygeine, arts, sports, HIV / drug prevention, to computer skills and other workforce skills. The program aims to teach these Chinese teens about team work, confidence, and communication skills. So far, the program has been a huge success, and has benefited more than 3,000 students at 140 different program centers around rural China.

I think this opportunity is great. It seems that the older generations in China are much more collectivistic, and that the newer generations are going away from that a bit. These parents think that their children not going to school are helping the whole family, which is great, however eventually the child will grow up with no skills and hardly any socialization. It's great that Audi (German car company) made that huge donation (close to 1 million US dollars) to make this program possible. More companies should be donating their money to start fixing problems like this. (Perhaps instead of paying INSANE amounts of money to run an ad during the Super Bowl..)


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