Sports making a difference to children in difficult circumstances

In the year 2000 the world’s governments made a promise to provide primary education for all children. Despite this promise and the hard work of many organisations and governments, there remain 58M children who are out of school.

Sports making a difference to children in difficult circumstances
June 23, 2015

These are the most marginalised, hardest to reach children. Going the last mile will require innovative and adaptable solutions, and importantly, new and expanded sources of funding to accelerate access to education.  Traditionally governments have been the primary funders, through their own budgets as well as through development aid.

Sports have proven to be one example of this. The benefits of sports are known, they include health, interpersonal and leadership skills and team building. Sports can also be a great way of raising awareness of issues and bring them to the general public.  In Qatar, sports and education have become partners.  Recently the sport of handball assisted in providing 25,000 out-of-school children access to quality primary education by raising QAR  9M for the locally-based Educate A Child.

The Qatar 24th Men’s Handball World Championship donated 100% of ticket proceeds go to Educate A Child, a programme of Education Above All, which strives to provide access to quality primary education around the world.  Handball fans who attended the event made a difference to children otherwise unable to get an education.  Their presence helped fund children’s education around the world. This has left the legacy of education that goes beyond the final bell.  This represents an example to an innovative approach to funding, where organisations and events whose purpose is not to supply funds to humanitarian endeavours, but whose substance is closely related and relevant to the realm of education and the personal development of the youth.

One of the upsides that education provides, human development, should not be seen in isolation to the greater impact that education can have.  Economic growth is one of the key benefits of education, where every dollar invested in primary education will generate a $10 to $15 return. If every child in low-income countries achieved basic literacy, it could reduce global poverty by up to 12%.  In other words, the lack of education induces costs that far outweigh the investment necessary to provide universal primary education.  Such a partnership is all the more coherent given sports events’ ability to muster both outstanding media coverage and significant financial output.  Most importantly, the above-mentioned complementarity between sports and learning will potentially enhance educational programmes via the limitless pedagogical and human potential of the sports sector.  Better thinking caps and new players in the funding game are what out-of-school children need.

If events such as the Qatar 2015 Men’s Handball were scaled up with more international sporting bodies supporting education, something which until now has not been done,  we could see the number of children benefiting from an event increase significantly from 25,000 to millions. Not only would this have a much bigger impact on the issue, but it would also do so in a way that can empower and involve the community through sport.  With its schedule of international sporting events, such as the Qatar Total Open tennis tournaments, Moto GP Qatar, the World Track and Fields Championship and Qatar Masters, the State of Qatar is well placed to be where these international sporting organisations come together to make a real difference to the issue of out-of-school children around the world, providing a model for others in sport as driver of good that goes far beyond the pitch.

Marcio Barbosa,
CEO, Education Above All