Non-Governmental Organizations and Higher Education

African Student

People usually think of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that focus on primary and secondary schools when they think of NGOs that focus on education. But there are many NGOs that operate entirely on improving access to higher education in developing nations.

Developing countries are faced with incredible challenges when it comes to educating their people. Most children in these countries are unable to complete primary school and drop out due to the cost of attending school. Many prefer to work for their family than to attend school. As a result few make it out of secondary school and very few go on to achieve a higher education.

It is precisely the skills that students learn at U.S. colleges and universities that would be the most useful in impoverished countries. Entrepreneurial skills and financial skills would have a dramatic chance of improving the income and lifestyle of such students. Knowledge of diseases, medicine and health maintenance would be invaluable at improving their chances of survival. Skills that students in the western world take for granted like problem solving, communication and project planning would help even the poorest people make the most of the few resources they have available to them.

NGOs participate in a variety of ways to try to address the higher education needs of developing nations. One important way they are helping is through cooperation with universities. Universities play a critical role in higher education as they train teachers, develop courses and ultimately teach students. NGOs can help universities improve the quality of their teachers and programs by working with them to adopt practices that work in the western world. They can also assist universities in the recruitment and retention of students.

Another way that NGOs can help developing nations is to provide assistance with accessibility to higher education. In the western world virtually anyone that wants to go to a college or a university has the ability to. Government financial aid programs and grants practically ensure that the only thing holding a student back from attending an institution of higher education is their aptitude and their motivation. In developing countries a student typically has to give up income that their family depends on to attend university. In addition, they also have to pay for tuition, materials and a commute. This is simply too much for many students and families to bear. NGOs can help alleviate this burden by offering financial assistance to universities and schools in impoverished countries.

NGOs have an important role to play in helping developing nations educate their children at all levels. We sincerely believe that higher education is a crucial component for NGOs to focus on.