Qualiteam: Finding Freedom in Quality Education for All
Part of tackling the UN Global Goals is clearly identifying each country’s internal struggles to reach sustainable solutions. However, shedding light on global needs is not as easy as one would expect. The internet is a database full of facts, but that may not tell the entire reality of a nation’s need. Access to education in Ecuador has dramatically increased over the last ten years. Although these statistics seem promising, the critical question is whether they mirror the reality of the Ecuadorian education system.
Ecuador: Facts vs. Reality
Qualiteam is traveling from Ecuador to compete in Global Goals World Cup, playing for the fourth goal: quality education. Each team member works for KAHRE, a non-profit organization that promotes human rights and social entrepreneurship. They specifically support vulnerable groups such as women and children. Karla Morales, the Executive Director of KAHRE and a Qualiteam player, says that although access to education has increased in Ecuador, the number of students that actually finish school has always been low - especially among girls due to teen pregnancy.
Until two years ago, child marriage was legal. This is another influential factor that lead to increased dropout rates for female students. KAHRE therefore works to bring this issue to light in the nation and support single moms struggling to keep their children in school.
“My dream is that children have the right to go to school without restrictions like gender, money or medical issues,” Morales said. “Our goal is not only to change the number but also to empower children and single moms to stay in school regardless of outside circumstances.”
KAHRE is currently providing scholarships to empower female students, and constructing community centers that serve as a beneficial resource to educate single moms and provide them with job opportunities.
Paulo Martin, Film Director for Kahre and Qualiteam’s coach, found soccer to be a tool of communication for the children he helps with in Ecuador. He works on the projects sites for KAHRE and says that soccer has a universal language that brings the children together. He uses the sport as a mean to empower them and encourage them to make positive life decisions.
Actions Before Heading to New York
Qualiteam is running two campaigns in their effort to support their goal. A year ago, KAHRE started a social media campaign called “Palms Up” to request quality education from the government. This worked as a selfie campaign in which participants wrote the goal in their hands, take a picture using the campaign hashtag, and inviting others to take action. Qualiteam plans to reignite this campaign on September 1st with a focus on changing the false perception of educational reality in Ecuador.
Their second campaign is called “The Book Truck Fairy,” which is essentially a bookstore on the road to educate communities in rural areas that do not have access to information. The concept is to share education in different zones of Ecuador affected by the 2016 earthquake. According to Morales, they look to ‘plant a seed’ through education in these areas to generate improvement in Ecuador in communities that need it the most.
Morales and Martin view Global Goals World Cup as an opportunity for organizational leaders to come together and generate real solutions in their individual countries.
“We believe that if you do something together with others who have the same intentions, you become stronger,” Morales said.
Morales said misleading numbers are not just an Ecuadorian reality; it is a global reality. If each team is able to come together in New York and learn from one another, there is huge potential to generate global change as a unit.