Five things you need to know this week about global education

News Roundup Main Sierra Leone
One million children in Sierra Leone will get better access to pre-primary and primary education (Global Partnership for Education)

Children in conflicts, Early childhood development, Education in emergencies

Palestinian schools need more help to survive

This is what it feels like to be at school – only a few months after your whole educational future seemed under threat.

UNRWA – the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees – provides education for 735,000 children at 711 schools in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. After its biggest funder, the United States, withdrew its aid last year there were warnings that schools might not reopen after the summer.

But other donors – in particular the European Union, Germany and Saudi Arabia – stepped up to fill the financial gap. The agency has appealed to the international community for help in maintaining a $1.2 billion budget. Last year 54% of its core services spending went on education.

“At stake are the dignity and rights of Palestine refugees – in particular the right to education for 535,000 girls and boys,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. 

Yellow boats take kids to school

News Roundup Yellow Boat Of Hope Foundation 1

The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation provides school boats to help struggling children get to school (Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation)

Children in some fishing communities in the Philippines used to wade through water to get to school – or even swim if the tide was high.

But now they go to their classes by boats that are painted bright yellow like schools buses. It’s all thanks to the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, whose work was featured this week by the BBC.

With all the communities’ boats used for fishing, the foundation began funding the school boats and has grown to help children across the country to access education.

“Usually we work with the community leaders or the local schools. Once we have funded a boat they can then take over the project and operate things themselves,” said project founder Jay Jaboneta. “I never imagined that a boat could be something so important, that it could make such a difference.”

Toxic air shuts hundreds of schools

News Roundup Toxic Air And Children

More than 400 public schools throughout the Thai capital have been closed due to toxic air pollution (UNICEF)

Choking air pollution and hazardous levels of dust particles have prompted schools in Thailand to shut down this week. 

Classes in more than 400 public schools in the capital Bangkok were cancelled on Wednesday while other public and private schools in Bangkok and surrounding provinces were closed yesterday and today.

“I use a mask wherever I go,” said 12-year-old Chaiwawut Benpalee. “It will not affect us now but it will in the future.”

The government will consider closing all schools next week and some exams scheduled for the weekend could be postponed.

93% of children under 15 breathe air that is so polluted it seriously risks their health and development, according to a report by the World Health Organization in October. It warned that toxic air was particularly damaging the brain development of children under five.

Warning over children scarred by war and disaster

Millions of children living in countries affected by conflict and disaster are at risk because they lack access to vital child protection services, UNICEF has warned.

The UN children’s agency estimates that more than 34 million children are affected – including 6.6 million in Yemen, 5.5 million children in Syria and four million  in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Today millions of children living through conflict or disaster are suffering horrific levels of violence, distress and trauma,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. 

“When children do not have safe places to play, when they cannot be reunited with their families, when they do not receive psychosocial support, they will not heal from the unseen scars of war.”

UNICEF appealed for $3.9 billion to support its work for children in humanitarian crises. Funding for child protection programmes accounts for $385 million of that – including almost $121 million for children affected by the Syria crisis.

Education boost for young kids in Sierra Leone

News Roundup Sierra Leone

Approximately one million girls and boys in public pre-primary and primary schools are set to benefit from the education grant (Global Partnership for Education)

Some of the most vulnerable young children in Sierra Leone are to get better access to pre-primary and primary schools.

A grant of $17.2 million from the Global Partnership for Education aims to increase equitable access to education and improve learning outcomes for about one million girls and boys.

While 82% of children aged six to 11 attend primary school, just 11% of those aged three to five are in pre-primary schools.

The GPE grant will will help to improve reading and mathematics skill in the early grades; expand early childhood development opportunities to reach 10,000 more young children; improve early grade reading and mathematics instruction skills of 17,000 teachers; and provide teaching and learning materials.

The GPE Program was officially launched by Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, who said it would “have a positive impact on schooling as a whole as it addresses the source of much of our later learning challenges”.

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