August 16, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

"Students need not just to learn but to learn how to learn," said the UN Secretary-General

Photo credit: UNICEF / Dicko

The worldwide learning crisis, growing violence against children in Mali and a new school being built by Shakira's foundation are in our news roundup.

Learning crisis warning from UN chief

It's not enough just to get every child into school - they need a quality education that sets them up for work and future technology.

That was reinforced in the International Youth Day message on Monday from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He said: "We are facing a learning crisis. 

"Too often, schools are not equipping young people with the skills they need to navigate the technological revolution. Students need not just to learn but to learn how to learn.

"Education today should combine knowledge, life skills and critical thinking. It should include information on sustainability and climate change. And it should advance gender equality, human rights and a culture of peace."

Almost two billion jobs are also likely to become obsolete by 2030 because of technological advances. A report by Deloitte Global and the Global Business Coalition for Education outlined four sets of skills that young people need to prepare them for the future workplace - workforce readiness, soft skills, technical skills and entrepreneurship.

Youth 2030 is the UN’s strategy to scale up global, regional and national actions to meet young people’s needs, realise their rights and become agents of change.

The UN said statistics showed that:

  • Only 10% of people complete upper secondary education in low-income countries
  • 40% children are not taught in a language they speak or fully understand
  • Over 75 % of secondary school age refugees are out of school

To mark International Youth Day, Their News looked at some of the achievements of Theirworld's Global Youth Ambassadors over the past year.

Big rise in children killed or affected by violence in Mali

There has been a sharp increase in grave violations committed against children in 2019 in Mali

Photo credit: UNICEF / Rose

Children in Mali are facing rising violence - with more than 150 killed in the first half of the year in jihadist and ethnic attacks.

UNICEF said more than 900 schools are closed due to insecurity and the recruitment and use of children by armed groups doubled in comparison to the same period in 2018.

“As violence continues to spread in Mali, children are more and more at risk of death, maiming, and recruitment into armed groups,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We must not accept the suffering of children as the new normal."

In the Mopti region, increasing violence and the presence of armed groups has seen repeated attacks in which children have been killed, maimed, displaced from their homes, separated from families and subjected to sexual violence and psychological trauma. Over 377,000 children are estimated to be in need of protection assistance.

Shakira's foundation builds school in her hometown

The charity founded by singer and education campaigner Shakira has begun to build another school for the children of her Colombian hometown.

The Fundación Pies Descalzos school at El Bosque in Barranquilla will have room for 1,000 students from preschool to high school in its 28 classrooms.

Shakira's organisation - whose name means Barefoot Foundation - was started in 1997 when she was just 18. It already has schools in Cartagena, Barranquilla, Quibdo and Soacha.

The star has been a leading figure in the campaign to tackle the global education crisis and has backed two of Theirworld's biggest education campaigns. In 2015, she went to the UN to deliver our #UpForSchool Petition - the world’s biggest ever petition on education, which was signed by more than 10 million people.

Last year Shakira urged her fans to support Theirworld's campaign to persuade world leaders to back the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) that will help millions of children into school. She is a member of the influential Education Commission that first proposed IFFEd.

Eritrea forces students into military training

Satellite imagery of the Sawa military camp, including the Warsai Yikealo Secondary School in Eritrea

Photo credit: Google Earth

Eritrea is forcing thousands of students and teachers into indefinite national service, according to Human Rights Watch.

Teenage students are forcefully transported from their homes to an isolated military camp near the Sudanese border, the rights group said in a report. They spend a year there following a schedule that combines secondary school exam preparation classes with mandatory military training.

They are systematically subjected to hard labour and physical abuse - and many end up on indefinite national service. One former student said: “They are making us into slaves, not educating us.”

"Eritrea's secondary schools are at the heart of its repressive system of control," said report author Laetitia Bader. "Now that peace with Ethiopia is restored, reforms on human rights, starting with the rights and freedom of the country’s youth, need to follow."

Conscription of both male and female youth drives thousands of young people, including many unaccompanied children, to leave Eritrea each year, the report added. 

Rohingya children are bored being out of school

Children play at a refugee camp in the Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh

Photo credit: Ralph Hodgson / Tearfund

Boredom is becoming a real problem for Rohyinga refugee children who are out of a school, a relief agency has warned.

Many of them living in camps around Cox’s Bazar have no access to local Bangladeshi schooling, which means they are getting no education or help in dealing with the trauma they have suffered.

Kobe Ahmed, a 15-year-old Rohingya refugee, said: "I don’t like living here - we don’t have our own house, I can’t go to school, I have nothing to do. I just roam around. I don’t feel good, I just feel bored. We don’t have freedom here."

James Rana of Tearfund said: "Boredom is a real problem, especially for children and adolescents as it can lead them into trouble. So Tearfund’s local partners have been setting up adolescent clubs which are safe spaces for teenagers to meet, read, play and help them overcome some of the trauma they have experienced, whilst raising awareness on issues such as health and hygiene."

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar after a military campaign in late 2017 that the United Nations has said was executed with "genocidal intent". Last year it was announced that over 88,000 Rohingya refugees and children from the host community in Bangladesh will get education aid thanks to a major funding package from Education Cannot Wait, the fund to provide education in emergencies.

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