Ebola presents an unprecedented threat to Sierra Leone and other countries in West Africa, not just in terms of public health but also because of the outbreak's long-term social and economic impacts. The UK has taken the global lead in supporting the response and has committed significant resources. This recognises Britain's long standing links with Sierra Leone and ActionAid welcomes and fully supports this.
Farmers have little to cheer about; politicians even less. But, when an American can evoke an explosion of applause from Iran's most elite agricultural researchers at the suggestion that all of mankind is capable of standing together to address common challenges, the possibilities for a more peaceful world becomes limitless.
GCSE results alone provide a narrow and confusing measure of success with no real consideration of the overall benefits to children of their time at school... under new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, there is a real opportunity to take an approach which not only provides a strong academic grounding but also instils character values in students.
We all remember with horror the great-aunts who would exclaim: 'My how you have grown'. In my case, it was especially excruciating as it usually meant I'd grown out rather than up, unlike my tall siblings. Fast forward several years and suddenly we've all become that aunt. Before we know it, we find ourselves parroting the same words when children we haven't seen for a while, have suddenly shot up.
I know what it's like to lose your childhood to war. When I was five and conflict raged in Sudan, my family and I were amongst the lucky ones to leave for Egypt. Four years later we were granted asylum in the United Kingdom. Inspired by legendary South Sudanese basketball player Manute Bol, my siblings and I took up basketball which helped us fit in. Like Manute, I was lucky enough to turn the sport I loved into a career as a professional NBA player in the United States.
Improving quality in Pakistan would also be a huge breakthrough. In rural areas many primary schools lack sufficient classrooms to provide a proper five year cycle: In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, for example, more than half of the schools do not contain the requisite 5 classrooms (one per grade). If you were a parent, would you send your children to school, and keep them there, if school conditions meant that your children were unlikely to learn the basics?
The call for DFID to make concrete commitments to include people with disabilities has been growing over the last decade. 2014 marks the year where these calls have been heard. We look forward to working with DFID to ensure people with disabilities are at the heart of the decisions to come, the impact of which could change the lives of millions.
As we consider the sorry state of international aid to education we must also remember that accessing school is also only part of the challenge; universal primary education goes beyond simply children enrolling in school - it also involves enabling them to complete their education and, as a result, acquire basic skills and knowledge...
The aid and development sectors work hard to promote and maintain an air of importance and legitimacy, but there are some hard truths that we need to face if the industry is to grow and address the huge challenges we, as a global community, continue to come up against - climate change and the increased frequency of natural disasters, unhindered economic growth causing environmental and social deterioration and the rise of political fundamentalism, just to name a few.
Africa and its healthcare needs are changing. As its economic landscape shifts, burgeoning wealth co-exists with extreme poverty. While infectious diseases like malaria and HIV still place huge pressure on Africa, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer and diabetes pose an increasing threat.
During a trip to Indonesia in 2012 I asked the staff of our local partner organisation about their experiences of the international effort in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. Their work in the region was prompted by the human need created by this event, however they were one of the few international NGOs to stay active in communities in Indonesia after the initial disaster relief effort...