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We’ve been talking about building secondary schools in urban slums for the past 2.5 years. We witnessed the need, knew the need, and had experienced the need. However, we realized through personal conversations, surveys, and meetings, that this particular global need was not as clear-cut to the general public as we thought. Yes, everyone knows that “education” is important and may be the best investment for development (http://www.globaleducationfirst.org/), and all of you have put The Supply on the map, rallying around this education cause.
However, as an organization, we never wanted education to become a blanketed concept. Education is not a one-size-fits all and needs to be tailored to a localized context. And though we were preaching this, we realized not many really fully understood our “localized context” — aka urban slums.
As we moved our focus to bringing awareness to the urban slums, we realized the challenge of differentiating urban slums. To many, slums became synonymous with “extreme poverty” or simply “a really big global problem.” But the slum crisis and slum narrative extends beyond just simply extreme poverty and a massive number. The slum population will continue to grow (3 billion by 2030), which means that this same number of people will have their basic human rights violated. By sheer scale, the slums issue could be considered the largest human rights issue today. There is a need for education in slums to equip the children with the tools needed to fight for their human rights and to represent their communities in fighting for slum upgrading policies (in Nairobi, a secondary school degree is needed to run for office).
Upgrading urban slums, we believe, will be one of our generation’s greatest development challenges. To do this, there is a need for investment in community secondary schools and to engage these slum children with civic education. The Supply is working hard to provide these programs.
However, we can’t do this alone. We need individuals, partners, companies, and groups to become aware of the issue and to help change the discourse on urban slums and to put this issue on the map. This will only work if we move beyond seeing urban slums as simply a poor area or merely a large number. We have to let the world know that these urban slum dwellers are humans too and that the current policy of slum demolition and eradication is not only flawed, but also dehumanizing.
Our call to action (http://thesupply.org/humanstoo)parallels the emphasis on seeing the 1.5 billion “insignificant” slum dwellers as important. We are going to be running a penny drive throughout October with a goal of collecting 1.5 billion pennies. Some may call this too crazy, or too ambitious, but this issue is too urgent for us not to do something this crazy.
So, grab your jars and start actively searching for those pennies, nickels, and dimes. Join the movement to tell the world that slums matter and slum dwellers are #HumansToo.
On behalf of the entire Supply team,
Founder and President