For every SUNNAN solar cell lamp IKEA customers buy, one is donated from IKEA Social Initiative to UNICEF and Save the Children to give to children who cannot draw, write or read after sunset. Children in developing countries – especially girls – often struggle to keep up at school because their only opportunity to do homework is at night, after the household chores are done. So far, more than 500,000 lamps have been sold.
Soft toys fund projects
IKEA customers contribute to improved education for millions of children in Africa, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe through the annual soft toy fundraiser. During the holiday season at the end of each year, one euro for every soft toy sold in IKEA stores is donated to Save the Children and UNICEF projects around the world.
Basic education for minority children in Vietnam
IKEA Social Initiative supports UNICEF in its efforts to improve the quality of education for children from ethnic minorities in Vietnam.
Minority children are usually educated in Vietnamese – though few speak the language – by teachers who cannot understand the children’s indigenous tongue. UNICEF works with schools and communities to provide education in a safe, child-friendly environment and to incorporate classes taught in the children’s indigenous language.
The project also involves setting up basic infrastructure such as a safe water supply and sanitation, classrooms and playgrounds, and providing resources such as books and teaching aids.
An estimated 120,000 students and 3,000 out-of-school adolescents have participated in the project so far.
Education quality in Albania plummeted during the transition to a market economy. Limited public resources and tight family budgets mean that a whole generation of Albanian children is growing up without books and encouragement to read. Not surprisingly, a recent UNESCO study revealed more than half the nation’s 15-year-old students are unable to complete any more than the simplest reading tasks.
‘Albania Reads’ is a government initiative launched in 2006 to restore a culture of reading among the country’s youth. UNICEF supports this project with proceeds from the IKEA 1€ is a Fortune campaign.
The project provides 850 schools with the building blocks for a school library; packages of 150 books, shelving and a manual on library management. Already more than 190 schools have created libraries. Reading corners are set up to encourage children to read. In addition, parents and the wider community get involved through awareness campaigns that promote the benefits of reading.
“First you learn to read and then you read to learn,” says Carrie Auer, UNICEF Representative in Albania. These are truly vital steps to ensuring a learning culture for children and their community.
Protecting children from exploitation and abuse in Pakistan
Zubair Hussain, 12, is a student at the Education and Counselling Centre No. 7 at Shadara in the outskirts of Lahore in Pakistan. He is one of many children here who are forced by the poverty of their parents to resort to beggary, stealing or commercial sex. “My father is a beggar. He would take me to the streets with him to beg. I used to wear worn out cloths and walk barefooted all day long so that people take pity and give us some money. Ever since I joined the Centre, I wear my school uniform and a tie. When I see children begging on the streets, I feel sorry for them but also feel happy for myself. Being in school is better than wasting time on the streets,” says Zubair.
Almost 4,000 children are enrolled in thirteen EC Centres in Lahore. Through support from IKEA Social Initiative, UNICEF provides teaching aids, uniforms for students, books, furniture, teachers’ salaries and technical support to these centres.
EC Centre No. 7 has classes from play group to grade 8, but age is no bar. Teenagers who cannot read or write can start from the beginning. Young women get training in embroidery, cutting and stitching.
Vite-n-Hope, an NGO, has been running this project in Lahore for the last four years. The centres cater specifically to children who are involved or at risk of commercial exploitation including sex work. There is no stigma on the basis of a child’s family background or past.
“Thanks to IKEA and Vite-n-Hope, there are thousands of children like Zubiar, who were victims of exploitation and abuse but are now in a protective environment at the EC Centres,” says Shamshad Qureshi, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist.
In Vyborg district in Russia children with disabilities are denied their rights to go to school. Their need of special support and care is not met, and teachers lack professional knowledge, so they remain seriously underserved. IKEA Social Initiative supports a Save the Children project that promotes these children’s rights to a quality education.
As part of the project, personal assistants are provided in classrooms and teachers and school staff is trained to support and educate children with different kinds of disabilities.
The project also aims to raise public awareness of the situation of children with disabilities and to integrate the children into their wider community in order to reduce discrimination.
With money from the IKEA 1€ is a Fortune campaign, 250,000 children in war torn Ivory Coast can be provided with a quality primary education in a safe environment.
Here, Save the Children are rehabilitating schools, giving out school kits, training teachers and children in child rights and forming children’s school clubs. With a good education the children of Ivory Coast are better equipped to face the future and can actively change their society to the better.
Inès lives in Abeongourou in the eastern part of Ivory Coast. She is happy about the ongoing construction work in her school. So far all the school buildings have been reconstructed, the roof is fixed and in the classroom there is new furniture.
“This year, they built us new latrines. The school wasn’t nice before Save the Children came, everything was broken but now it’s nice”, Inès says.
Another change Inès is happy with is that the teachers don’t hit the students anymore. Last year, the teacher saw a boy steel Inès’ notebook and lunch money and hit the boy to punish him. When Inès saw this, she felt bad, even if the boy had stolen her book. Now things are different. Save the Children has been working with teachers on alternatives to physical and humiliating punishment.
“When students misbehave or talk in class, the teachers tell them not to. They don’t hit us,” says Inès.
As part of the initiative, Save the Children work together with parents to help other parents understand the importance of education, and the key role they can play in their children’s education. In this way, parents learn to play a more active role in encouraging their children to study and succeed at school.