REAL Presents at Rotary!

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REAL had the opportunity to present today at the Lake Oswego Rotary Club. A few of our members gave a 30 minute presentation to all the members of the club. Everyone was very welcoming, and we had a lot of fun presenting. Thanks to all the Rotarians for having us!

Year-Round Schools

According to the National Association for Year-Round Education (NAYRE), over the past twenty years, the number of schools making the transition from the antiquated 9-month education system to a year-round program grew 441%. Traditional American schools operate on a nine month education system with a two-month long summer break. However, the long summer break causes students difficulty in retaining information, which especially impacts low income students. More and more people are promoting year round schooling, which has short but frequent vacations, as a panacea to resolve the issues related with the traditional education system. By implementing a year-round schedule schools can promote higher levels of excellence for students.

By implementing year round schooling, students are able to combat the loss of information occurring during the long summers of traditional schooling. According to a study conducted by John Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning, the extended summer vacation of traditional nine month schools causes 2.6 months of learning lost. Almost one-third of the information that teachers try to ingrain in students’ brains deteriorates since the students do not engage in educational activities. Because of this annual “summer slide,” teachers end up wasting the first two months of the school year to review and re-teach old material. This greatly impacts the remainder of the year’s curriculum since the lack of time restrains the quality and quantity of the material that the teachers can teach. Year-round schools have an advantage since their vacations usually last no longer than four weeks, a short enough time period that enables students to retain the information. When students return from these short breaks, teachers are able to pick up where they left off with little to no review. This allows teachers to cover more material and go more in depth on the various topics while still meeting state curriculum requirements. Year-round schools’ comprehensive education prepares the students for the vigorous academia of highschool and college at a much higher standard compared to the traditional schools’.

Year-round schools also have a positive effect on students who are at risk for academic problems. Many kids speaking english as their second language, dealing with learning disabilities, or coming from low income families tend to fall behind on the curriculum, increasing the learning gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged students. While 33% of students have the opportunity to enroll in educational summer programs, the other two-thirds of the teen population are at a great disadvantage. Year-round schools compensate by offering intersession programs during the vacation periods. Not only are intersession programs free of cost, benefiting economically disadvantaged students, but they also provide immediate remediation, unlike traditional schools, since year-round schools’ breaks are more frequent. Students attending traditional schools must wait until the end of the entire school year to seek academic corrective action. Through intercession all the students effectively keep up on the material taught at school.

The goal is to provide students with a sufficient enough education to thoroughly prepare them for their future and year round schooling could be the solution.

276 Missing School Girls: “Bring Back Our Girls”

On April 15, dozens of heavily armed terrorists wrecked havoc on a girls’ boarding school in northern Nigeria in the middle of the night. They woke the girls with gunfire, set the school aflame, and herded terrified schoolgirls, aged 15 to 18, into their vehicles. They drove off, vanished, and have not been seen since.

The extremist Muslim group, called Boko Haram (which in the Hausa language translates to “Western education is sin”) kidnaped this girls and are currently selling them for $12 each to become “wives” of militants. 276 of the girls are still missing, and the Nigerian government has done close to nothing to find the girls and free them.

These were the girls who had the guts to seek an education in an environment that strove to suppress them. These were the girls who were set to become teachers, doctors, and lawyers. These were the girls who were set on making a change in their world.

The kidnapping was a part of the global backlash against girls’ education. Malala Yousafzai was attacked for advocating for girls’ education. Girls had acid thrown on them in Afghanistan while walking to school. Countless numbers of schools that have been demolished in Nigeria.

If the girls aren’t rescued, “no parent will allow their female child to go to school.” As an article in the New York Times put it, “The best tool to fight extremism is education, especially of girls — and that means ensuring that it is safe to study. The greatest threat to militancy in the long run comes not from drones but from girls with schoolbooks.”

A massive international effort went into the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. The world has demonstrated that it is perfectly capable of putting together an extreme rescue effort. Incredibly enough, very little media attention has been given to this atrocity, and no international effort has been made. These girls–these future doctors, lawyers, teachers, and change-makers–need to be brought home.


Please read the full article here.

World Water Day

1/3 of the world’s population lives without clean water and sanitation. Lack of clean water can lead to numerous diseases such as cholera, pneumonia, diarrhea, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

And more than half of all primary schools in developing countries do not have adequate access to water, with nearly 2/3 lack proper sanitation. Giving kids access to clean water and teaching them about proper hygiene not only helps with health, but also helps with school attendance because healthy kids come to school ready to learn, and therefore learn more when they do come to school. Doctor Paul Hunter from University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School in the United Kingdom says, “Even mild dehydration in children may be associated with poor health, and previous studies have shown that keeping well-hydrated improves cognition and energy levels in children. So providing free water in schools would improve children’s general well-being and learning experience.” Next time you get a drink of water at your school, workplace, or public space, think about how your life would change if you knew this water was not safe.

Check out the awesome article about School attendance and Clean Water!

And go to to see what you can do today for World Water Day!

~Sonya Bedge

Why I volunteer for REAL

classroom at thane,rural literacy india, rural girls education, india rural youth

My name is Varsha and I am a Junior at Jesuit High School. I have been part of REAL for three years. I heard about REAL through my sister and was very inspired by the mission of this organization. I have traveled to India multiple times and see first-hand what the lack of literacy in rural villages is doing to the communities.  REAL gave me an opportunity to help the people in rural villages get a better education so they can improve their way of life. It is vital for any individual wanting to make a change in the world to have a good education, and with the literacy rate in India at an all-time low, it is becoming harder and harder for people to gain access to good education. REAL helps fund schools so more students can be literate and are able to fulfill their dreams, whatever they may be. I volunteer for REAL so I can make a change in these students’ lives in hopes that one day they will be able to make a change in the world.

Illiteracy of youth in India

youth literacy rate in India, infographic on literacy of youth in India, literacy data infographic

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Renuka Gupta from PPES Visits REAL

Last weekend we had the pleasure of meeting Renuka Gupta from Pardada Pardadi Educational Society (PPES) here in Portland.  I speak for all of us when I say that it was very inspiring to hear about the work that is being done at PPES, one girl at a time, by the dedicated staff and volunteers at PPES.
I’d like to thank all of you for taking time to meet Renuka  (youth board members and parents in the afternoon, and board members, loyal supporters and parents in the evening). A special heartfelt thanks goes to Rupa and Nitin for hosting us for in the evening (Kimaya, you were there in spirit with us!) and to Jyothi for preparing a delicious Friday lunch.
On Saturday Renuka went to the bay area where Rohisha introduced Renuka to Karl Mehta at Stanford at an event called The India Hackathon.
We loved having you….we felt the warmth of your work, similar to the Olympic Torch as it travels from place to place, connecting us all to the mission of Education for All.
Looking forward our next visit at the school.
~ Hemakshi