February 21, 2020

Five things you need to know this week about global education

Many Iraqi children, like these students in Mosul, returned to school after the defeat of Islamic State - but others are still deprived of education

Photo credit: UNICEF / Anmar

Children are still out of school two years after the defeat of Islamic State - but education's share of humanitarian aid has doubled, our roundup reveals.

Iraqi children still out of school two years after Islamic State defeat

Islamic State was defeated in Iraq more than two years ago - but many children in the areas they used to rule still cannot go to school. That means a generation of young people without any post-primary schooling, a United Nations report has warned.

The children are in camps for displaced people. Of 1.4 million people uprooted by the crisis after the terrorist group's campaign of violence and oppression began in 2014, 658,000 are children - almost half of whom are not in school.  

“Many children who were in school when living under ISIL control are now young adults, making them too old to attend mainstream schools and are left with no alternative options," said the report The Right to Education in Iraq: Part One.

Some children still cannot access school or get the necessary documents needed to enrol in classes.

One boy said: “Why do I need an education for this life? It has been so long since we were at school, our minds feel closed to learning, some of us can no longer even read and write. I don’t see a future for myself.” 

The study by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN human rights office OHCHR is based on interviews and group consultations with 237 children, young people and teachers at six camps for displaced persons in Ninewa governorate and the cities of Mosul and Erbil. 

The UN agencies said the Iraqi government should provide accessible primary and secondary education to all Iraqis, including those in camps for internally displaced. 

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme, working with partners and the Iraqi education ministry, has relaunched its school feeding programme following a  successful 2018 pilot in West Mosul. WFP is distributing fresh meals to 330,000 children, which ensures the children have enough energy to start the school day.

Education share of humanitarian aid has doubled

South Sudan is one of four countries which received half of all humanitarian aid for education

Photo credit: UN Photo

The amount of humanitarian aid allocated to education doubled between 2015 and 2018, a new report has revealed. Half went to four countries - Syria, Yemen, South Sudan - said Save the Children Norway. 

CEO Birgitte Lange said: "The establishment of the Education Cannot Wait fund has created a stronger engagement and commitment to the sector and donors like the EU are taking a leading role by committing 10% of their humanitarian budget to education in emergencies."

There is a global goal for donors to allocate at least 4% of their humanitarian aid to education, which Norway has now achieved.

The report Walk The Talk? said education is increasingly better funded within humanitarian appeals. In 2015, only 30% of education sector needs were met from appeals - by 2018 that had risen to 44%.

Coronavirus moves Shanghai school classes online

Instead of being in the classroom, many Chinese children will be taking their lessons online

Many schools in China will now stay closed indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Last week several provinces said classes were cancelled until the end of February - but the Shanghai government has said students will not return to schools at all for the new semester.

Instead, primary and secondary school students will start online learning on March 2. Shanghai previously had only said that schools would be shut until the end of this month.

More than 270 million school children were heading into the month-long Lunar New Year school break when coronavirus struck, killing more than 2,000 people and infecting tens of thousands.

Education programmes to help refugees and local children in Jordan

The charity Dubai Cares has announced the launch of three innovative educational programmes in Jordan for Syrian refugees and local children.

More than $7 million has been committed to the initiatives, which will address various needs across pre-primary, primary and secondary levels among refugees and host communities.

Spanning across two years, the programme will seek to ensure that 4,000 boys and girls, aged between five and six years, are adequately prepared to enter first-grade education. 

Dubai Cares CEO Tariq Al Gurg said: "We aim to support quality preschool education and stimulate caregiving services for all children. This includes supporting the government of Jordan to achieve its objective to universalise pre-school education within the host community and refugee camps throughout the country."

ECD 'key to achieving SDGs' says UNICEF board

Children facing a tough start in Bangladesh play at an ECD centre

Photo credit: UNHCR

Early childhood development is crucial if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved, the UNICEF Executive Board has agreed.

In its first regular session of 2020, the board discussed a range of topics - and a common thread running across the programme documents was ECD. Speakers emphasised how achieving the developmental potential of every child during the early years of life sets the stage for a child’s future growth and well-being.

Board President Rabab Fatima said “early childhood development has been recognized as a key catalyst to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and is particularly important in this last decade of action and acceleration”.

By the time a child reaches five years old, 90% of their brain has already developed - which means the journey from birth to school is one of the most important of their lives. That's why Theirworld has campaigned for investment in ECD and pre-primary education.

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