The value of education weighs heavy in many of our pockets, but going to school means more than just punctuation and equations – it’s the formula for the freedom to choose.
What did school mean to you? The feeling of your friends rallying around you with reassuring touches and warm, gleeful grins when you said something funny? The golden hue of relief and pride when you’d score a goal, or manage a nifty catch on the playground? One person giggling at the teacher in class, and the whole room erupting with the unstoppable, blissful roar of a gaggle of giddy children? Wet play and hop scotch and fizzy drinks at school discos? Questionable rice pudding on plastic trays? The “we’ll never live this down” array of costumes in school performances, or playing the recorder (really badly) in your bedroom?
Although school isn’t the same for everyone, the universal importance of basic primary education is simply undeniable. If you can remember sitting in a classroom, moaning about a teacher or yawning through a lesson, you’re fortunately not among the 62 million children in the world who don’t get the chance to go to school.
Not everyone without an education is living in poverty, but many of the poorest, most vulnerable and remote communities – while distinguishable by a rich diversity of culture and characteristics – have insufficient access to education as their binding common thread.
Armed with this knowledge, the Tropic family decided to fight for the right for every child to go to school. Here, our beautiful relationship with United World Schools (UWS) was born. Through this partnership, money from every order – no matter how small – goes towards running and resourcing schools in the world’s most remote regions, as well as building new ones and maintaining them for future generations to come.
Since the launch of this incredible initiative – from September 2019 to August 2020 (time of writing) – together we have funded over 1.8 million days of education. That equates to a year's worth of school days for 8,000 children.
Our first school to be fully-funded by our charity partnership has been built in the remote fishing village Ta Lart Thmey in North East Cambodia, as part of our joint mission with UWS to empower and teach the unreached. The village has a population of 350 and as the nearest school was previously a three-and-a-half hour walk away, less than 10 per cent of this community can read or write.
However, thanks to our customers and Ambassadors, every child in the village now has access to primary education. Their new school has working toilets, fresh water, electricity, a library, three classrooms and supplies of toys and stationery too – the first of these amenities that not only the children of Ta Lart Thmey, but their elders have ever had access to.
"The support UWS has received from the whole Tropic family has meant that, in less than one year, we’ve been able to educate over 8,000 children and support them in discovering their potential! Together we’re transforming lives." – Tim Howarth Chief Executive, United World Schools
Our partnership is one of our proudest achievements, as we not only value the importance of an education, but the significance of good teachers as dedicated, stable attachment figures during such formative years.
In her TED Talk, Rita Pierson – a teacher for more than 40 years – shares a pertinent pearl of wisdom. She says that “every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.” This will often be a parent or guardian, an older sibling or a family friend, but in families for whom life isn’t easy, for those who sit precariously on the poverty line, circumstance doesn’t always afford the luxury of freedom to invest in championing a child’s success. In walk the teachers.
In a world where time and energy are two of our most valuable commodities, let’s direct such resources to the next generation. The effects of nurturing a child with such simple means has proven time and time again to help them learn – about living compassionately, harmoniously and self-reflectively. Knowledge and understanding may take root in the folds of a child’s mind, but they need love and support and safety to blossom.
A child born to an educated mother is 50 per cent more likely to survive past the age of five and twice as likely to attend school (UNESCO). Education is so much more than just knowledge and intelligence, it’s the opportunity to be more.
Although it may not, in the end, have afforded you any talent to showcase on that recorder, or endowed you with a ferocious thirst for knowledge of space or socialism or assonance (give it a Google) – your time at school is always gently tinkling away on the piano of your consciousness. Your life could be being played out in a different tune, at a different tempo, to a different beat, had you not received your starting note from education.
School for children in remote communities probably won’t mean hop scotch and recorders and rice pudding, but it will still mean laughter, it will still mean friendship, it will still mean the freedom to choose the rhythm of their own future.