Learning, Giving, and Having Fun

As most parents and educators know, children are much more receptive to taking part in educational activities when they are associated with the word “fun.”  Normally, learning new vocabulary words or working on geography and art can all be considered boring in a child’s mind.  However, www.freerice.com, a non-profit website operated by the United Nations World Food Program, is both a fun and charitable way to get children to learn.  It allows children to learn various subjects, while teaching them the importance of giving back to those in need.

Freerice is an educational opportunity to either play for leisure or play to increase knowledge.  People can choose from a plethora of subjects like vocabulary, geography, art, mathematics, etc.  After selecting a subject category, a series of questions are posed to the player.  For every question answered correctly, the player amasses 10 grains of rice, and all proceeds go to feeding hungry people in need.  In 2008, Freerice was able to increase their proceeds to 20 grains of rice per correct answer, but due to the economical downturn, they were forced to lower their quota back to 10 grains of rice.  The rice that is accumulated by those playing on the website is sent to a variety of countries across the world.  Some of the nations that Freerice has sent food to are Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Haiti, Uganda, and Nepal.  Rice was distributed to children, victims of earthquakes and cyclones, refugees, and pregnant or nursing women.

The website is particularly useful for parents who want their children to learn through an enjoyable medium, and instill in them the importance of giving back to those in need.  Not only can young children, teenagers, and parents learn more from the various subjects on the website, they also have an opportunity to learn about the countries that have received rice from the World Food Program.  Furthermore, freerice provides ideas and suggestions as to how one person can work towards ending world hunger.  For example, people can sign up to become volunteers with the World Food Program, and take action against world hunger.  Children from kindergarten to high school can start a “Coins 4 Kids” fundraiser in their schools and communities in order to help a school meals program in Nairobi, Kenya.  Students in universities and colleges can also help out with the WFP world hunger mission by joining Universities Fighting World Hunger.  The program wants to make world hunger awareness an important aspect of university life, and hopes to get students working towards finding sustainable solutions to end world hunger.

Though Freerice is an excellent idea to combine learning and charity to help with critical issues like world hunger, it does not exactly provide a sustainable solution to ending world hunger.  Food is simply sent to countries in need, and there is no program dedicated to creating sustainable programs to either teach people how to farm efficiently, help set up effective farming communities, or other long-term successful solutions.  The website is really a wonderful idea to both educate and raise awareness, but it would be nice to see sustainable impacts in the countries that the World Food Program aids.  However, Freerice is truly a wonderful website, and it is a brilliant opportunity to get children involved in learning, giving back, and being aware of social issues across the globe.


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