October 04, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

Millions of vulnerable children will now be able to go to school

Photo credit: ECW

Our news roundup includes a move to help millions of children into school, terrible conditions at unregulated Nigerian schools and a royal surprise for education advocates.

Campaign for $5bn to help tens of millions into school

The Education Commission and its partners this week launched an effort to mobilise $5 billion by early 2020 to help tens of millions of children into school.

The funding would also allow the new International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) to prepare millions more young people for the workplace of tomorrow. 

The United Kingdom and the Netherlands last week gave guarantees of $500 million and grants of $100 million for IFFEd to help get children into school in the "missing middle" countries which lie between the developing world and rich nations.

Theirworld's #WriteTheWrong campaign and the Education Commission is calling on additional donors to join these efforts.  Theirworld championed the establishment of IFFEd, which is expected to become operational in early 2020.

IFFEd is an innovative idea that multiplies donor resources and unleashes new funding streams, so that initial money will unlock $2 billion. More funding help to mobilise the full $5 billion target.

Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and chair of the Education Commission, said: "These generous contributions from the UK and the Netherlands show that is possible to drive change. We now need more countries to join and make a lasting difference once and for all the girls and boys.”

Torture at Nigerian school highlights wider issue

Abuse in all its forms are a daily reality for some Nigerian children

Photo credit: UNICEF / Gilbertson

Horrific revelations of torture and abuse at a compound billing itself as a Koranic reform school in northern Nigeria have shone a spotlight on Islamic institutes unregulated by the authorities. 

Last week police in the city of Kaduna raided a building to find hundreds of men and boys - some reportedly aged as young as five - held in atrocious conditions at the facility.

Inmates were discovered chained to metal railings and with their hands and feet shackled together. Some bore scars from alleged beatings while other recounted being sexually abused.

The shocking revelations made headlines but activists insisted they were symptomatic of abuses in a system beyond official control. Private Islamic schools are widespread across mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, where poverty levels are high and government services often lacking.

The authorities have estimated that there are more than nine million students enrolled at the institutions. Mohammed Sabo Keana, team lead at the Abuja-based Almajiri Child Rights Initiative NGO, told AFP: "They are a clear manifestation of what a lot of children go through." 

Two in three schools still damaged a year after Indonesian earthquake

Children look at the damage caused by the earthquake

Photo credit: Peduli Anak Foundation

One year after a devastating earthquake, thousands of children are still attending classes in often crowded temporary learning centres - with many too scared to return to their damaged schools, according to Save the Children.

An estimated 67% of schools in the three districts where the charity operates through its partner Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilikare are still damaged 12 months after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Central Sulawesi.

Of the 865 schools that are still damaged in Palu, Sigi and Dongala, 473 are so badly affected they remain too dangerous to use, forcing children to learn in temporary classrooms where they have to attend in shifts due to a lack of space.

Dika, 11, said: "We have a temporary classroom but I miss my old school. I was comfortable there. It was cool and clean and big enough for me to study and play. I wish I could get my old school back.”

Meghan's praise for project that helps schoolgirls in Malawi

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The Duchess of Sussex paid tribute to the work of female advocates who are supporting girls schoolgirls in Malawi through their education.

Meghan made a surprise appearance by video link when her husband Prince Harry sat with the activists in the capital Lilongwe.

The royal couple are on a tour of southern Africa but Meghan stayed in South Africa with son Archie while Harry went to Malawi. He visited the education project, which has been helping teenage girls in poverty to complete their education and avoid falling into early marriage and pregnancy.

On the video link, Meghan told the project workers what they are doing is "valuable and vital".

Iranian children with disabilities face education exclusion

Children with disabilities face discrimination and significant barriers in getting an education in Iran, Human Rights Watch and the Center for Human Rights in Iran said in a joint report as the school year begins.

The report documents discrimination and barriers to education in the country’s public school system for most children with disabilities. 

A major obstacle is a mandatory government medical test that can exclude them from education altogether, the groups found. Additional barriers include inaccessible school buildings, discriminatory attitudes of school staff and lack of adequate training for teachers and school administrators.

“Blocking children with disabilities from accessing education in an inclusive environment contributes to the social stigma millions of people with disabilities in Iran face daily,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Based on government figures, during the 2018-2019 school year only 150,000 children with disabilities of school age were enrolled in school. Estimates put the total number of school-age children with disabilities in Iran at 1.5 million.

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