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Misean Cara was pleased to host an event to mark this year’s UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty ‘Poverty of Opportunity: Education as a Pathway to a Better Future’ with support from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Misean Cara Head of Funding Séamus O'Gorman, Fr. Peter McVerry SJ, Fr. Eddie McArdle, Misean Cara Project Officer Anthony Hannon, Br. John Guinane, Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster, and Sr. Brigid Tunney. Photo: Ronan Melia.

Misean Cara Head of Funding Séamus O’Gorman, Fr. Peter McVerry SJ, Fr. Eddie McArdle, Misean Cara Project Officer Anthony Hannon, Br. John Guinane, Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster, and Sr. Brigid Tunney. Photo: Ronan Melia.

The event focused on education as it relates to poverty because over 120 million children and adolescents out of school around the world. More than half of these live in sub-Saharan Africa and 35% live in conflict-affected areas. Marginalised children in particular have been left behind. In sub-Saharan Africa, 90% of children with disabilities are excluded from school and often experience social exclusion also. This marginalisation increases for girls with a disability or who live in a rural area.

"We must judge education by those at the bottom. Many parents cannot afford to educate their children," said Fr. Peter McVerry SJ. Photo: Ronan Melia.

“We must judge education by those at the bottom. Many parents cannot afford to educate their children,” said Fr. Peter McVerry SJ. Photo: Ronan Melia.

The event showcased the work of three Irish missionary organisations – Sr. Brigid Tunney from the Loreto Sisters spoke about Girls Education in South Sudan, Presentation Br. John Guinane spoke about Girls Education in Ghana, and Fr. Eddie McArdle from Edmund Rice Development spoke about the Hermano Manolo project in Bolivia. Misean Cara Project Officer Anthony Hannon also shared some key findings from his masters these on Girls Education in Ghana. Fr. Peter McVerry SJ from the Jesuits responded to the three missionaries by speaking about education in Ireland, and the lack of opportunity resulting from a ‘one-size fits all approach’ to education, which further widens the gap for people living in disadvantaged areas, in particular for those trying to access third-level education. 

"If you want to make a difference in your country, it is at the head of the classroom. It will take deep commitment," said Sr. Brigid Tunney IBVM. Photo: Ronan Melia.

“If you want to make a difference in your country, it is at the head of the classroom. It will take deep commitment,” said Sr. Brigid Tunney IBVM. Photo: Ronan Melia.

Hosted in the Wood Quay Venue in Dublin, Ireland, more than 50 Misean Cara members, staff, staff from other NGOs, and international students from Trinity College, and academia attended.

There was a vibrant exchange on certain aspects of education notably teacher training and the status of teachers within society and discussion of the challenges in providing quality education for all in society. Some in the audience spoke about their own experience of the value and opportunities education provided for them, in Kenya and Ghana, and expressed their gratitude to missionaries for providing quality education, and to Irish Aid.

One speaker highlighted the ongoing challenge in rural communities of cultural barriers for girls, such as early child marriages and FGM practices, in attending school. Early child marriages were also mentioned by Sr. Brigid Tunney when she spoke of the challenges to keeping girls in education in the Loreto Secondary School in South Sudan. The session closed with the panel sharing their vision for education, which ranged from girls being agents of change in their lifetime to girls not being disadvantaged in education and life because of their gender.