Soft Toys for Education, Kike Ibañez, 2105, Ilustración Digital

Soft Toys for Education

November 12, 2015  |  Education

“Our mission is to provide children living in poverty around the world, and their families, with the opportunity to opt for a better future, and the Soft Toys for Education campaign is one way of achieving it”. So says the IKEA team heading a program that has already helped 11 million children living in some of the world’s poorest communities and warzones since 2003.

For each soft toy or children’s book sold by IKEA in the months of November and December of 2015, the IKEA Foundation will donate one euro to Save the Children and UNICEF. The campaign has raised 90.4 million euros since 2003, and helped provide some 11 million children in 46 countries with a quality education.

The figures speak for themselves. In Madagascar, 40,000 children who had never gone to school are now enjoying “catch-up” classes thanks to IKEA’s education program. In Bangladesh, 51,000 girls and boys have enjoyed classes in their native language and in a much improved learning environment. In Rwanda, over 15,000 children have taken part in an education program. In Kosovo, 14,000 marginalized children have benefitted from an improved education. In Sierra Leone, 1.3 million children had alternative learning opportunities via radio broadcasts during the ebola crisis. In Cambodia, over 55,000 children have been helped. In Indonesia, 3,270 children with disabilities have benefitted from support services in their community.

Children in developing countries and warzones need support. Their future is at stake. UNICEF can provide us with more figures on the social impact of education:

• Providing children with a basic, quality education can boost economic growth of low-income countries by 2%.
• It would be possible to lift 12% of the world’s poor (more than 170 million people) out of poverty if every student in poor countries had basic reading skills.
• Over the last four decades, the increase of education among women worldwide has served to prevent the deaths of four million children.
• Each additional year of schooling can fuel an increase in women’s income of between 10% and 20%.
• 1 million dollars invested in education and skills translates into 10 million dollars of economic growth.

UNICEF is right when it says that lack of education worldwide is a serious problem. Some 57 million children around the world do not go to school. Forty two percent of them live in poor countries affected by war. In the developing world, only 87 out of 100 children complete their primary education. The lowest rates of primary education are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, where only 65% of school-aged children go to school. And there are at least 250 million children that can’t read, write or count well. For all these reasons, initiatives like IKEA’s are needed to address a problem that afflicts poor and war-torn countries.

The IKEA Foundation team are very sure about their objective. “We want to improve the lives of People and communities in the places where we operate,” they say, and children are the main targets of their CSR projects. “We believe in protecting children. We do everything we can to defend their interests, both in terms of product design and in the fight against child labor.” IKEA has a code of conduct regarding child labor and it runs programs designed to defend the rights of children in 25,000 villages in different regions in India and Pakistan. It’s an ambitious objective: to help 15 million children in 2017. If you want to contribute, go to any IKEA and start by buying a soft toy. Don’t leave it too late!