ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION FOR STUDENTS IN DEVELOPING COMMUNITIES*

“Invest in Police to fight terrorists…Invest in education to eliminate terrorism.” Malala Yousafzai

Problem: The global population will increase by 1.2 billion to 8 billion by 2030. Developing countries will account for 97% of that increase. As such, developing countries will face escalating demands for basic services, such as food, energy, water, healthcare, and education. In many cases, their economies will not be able to meet such demands. Developing communities in developed countries will have similar challenges. Youth population growth in developed countries is often highest in developing communities, whether poor inner city or poor rural communities. To lift these communities out of poverty, after access to nutrition, sanitation and health care, education becomes the barrier. With 97% of population growth destined for such communities, charitable handouts are an unsustainable long-term strategy for their prosperity, let alone their survival. They must be educated from within to bootstrap a collective path out.

Solution: Developed countries and NGOs are investing in nutrition, sanitation, health care and, to a lesser extent, education for these communities. Resolving these services will take years. The education component is complex, with multiple dimensions. Education is needed at K-12 and college levels. Most of the existing NGO education focus is on K-12.

Paradoxically the way to fix faster this complex problem is to focus in the college education and to provide the adequate information to high school student in developing communities. They will be informed how to find financing as well. The only obligation to take advantage to financing would be the acceptance to work at least 3 to 5 years in the origin country. After their college education is achieved, those individuals will be the leaders who will take the local situation on their hands, as politicians, educators, engineers, medical professionals, social workers, bankers and entrepreneurs, etc. So to realize this goal, the focus here will be college education. College training is needed not only in abstract terms, but also in those areas specific to bootstrapping these communities as a whole. The only sustainable path to food, water, energy, healthcare and education is to build skills from within to deliver those services — farmers, engineers, medical professionals, bankers and entrepreneurs. In developing countries, for example, current NGO and micro-strategies are focused more on providing aid to support lower tier needs (food, water, energy), not higher tier needs (higher education) required to build a sustainable ecosystem.

In focusing on higher education, the intent is: instead of sending trained experts to the developing nations to solve local problems, identify and train students from each country in critical areas — engineering, medicine, business, and farming. These graduates will then build the local systems needed to solve local problems. Most developing countries lack the resources to fund sufficient centers of higher education for their youth. The solution is to have those students take advantage of colleges and universities in developed countries, including Europe, Canada and the United States. However, students in developing communities lack the resources and information to become effectively informed about educational opportunities around the globe. These students are not aware what colleges exist, what degree programs, what careers are associated with those degrees, what financial aid and what logistical support options are available.

As such, the intent here is to develop an Internet based “College A-Z” informing platform for these students. This program will provide unique information and advice about career paths, colleges, college programs, financial aid, the application process, and broad aspects of college life. The program will also partner with NGOs to offer predefined headcount funding for both college tuition and guaranteed infrastructure jobs (local to specific communities) post graduation.

Much of the informational program will be available in 30–60 minute video episodes in a journalism format. Each video episode will have a focused theme. For example, one episode might define those local jobs that NGOs have committed to sponsor local to a specific community after graduating with a specific degree. Another episode might outline the top 10 NGO sponsored colleges offering those degree programs required for the fixed number of guaranteed, NGO sponsored infrastructure jobs in their communities. Other episodes could offer summaries of a broader set of specific universities, summarizing the key departments, the admission requirements, tuition costs, interviewing students, providing a campus tour and ending with links to further information, including financial aid sites, further interviews with professors and other global students, and a “day in the life” segment for a typical global student at each college. The program will also have written content and video content hosted on a website. This program will encompass a variety of higher education institutions available to global students from community colleges to Ivy League colleges.

Set up a first pilot region for this program. Students in developing communities within the United States face the same lack of support and information as their global peers. We will establish the first pilot region in the New York City and Boston areas, targeting lower income communities. The pilot will include initial engagements with NGO sponsors as well as full information portfolios for 10–20 colleges and universities local to New York City and Boston. Candidates included:

· NYC: John Jay College, Baruch College, Fordham, Westchester Community College, Queens College, S.U.N.Y. Purchase.

· Boston: MIT, Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern, U. Massachusetts-Boston, Tufts, MassBay Community College, Bunker Hill Community College.

Footnote: In his 2013 book, “The Great Escape,” Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel laureate in economics, made a surprising case against foreign aid, suggesting that political and commercial interests get in the way of helping the poor. Instead, he recommends giving the tools to the next generation of leaders to develop the local system and governments in their own countries.

Quote: “Poor countries cannot forever have their health services run from abroad. Aid undermines what poor people need most: an effective government that works with them for today and tomorrow.” Angus Deaton

* Developing communities are defined as underserved, often poverty stricken communities within developed or developing countries.

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