August 23, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

Children in class at a UNICEF learning space in Kutupalong-Balukhali mega-camp at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

Photo credit: UNICEF / Brown

Children staying off school in troubled Kashmir, a lack of learning centres for Rohingya refugees and an end to child marriage in Mozambique are in our roundup.

Schools reopen but children stay away in Kashmir

Many schools reopened in parts of troubled Kashmir this week - but classrooms were empty as fearful parents kept their children home.      

The schools had been closed down for two weeks because of unrest over the Indian government's decision to revoke the region's autonomy.

In the city of Srinagar, officials said security would be in place to ensure the safety of students. But families said they would not let their children go.

"How can we risk the lives of our children?" said Gulzar Ahmad, a father of two children enrolled in a school in Batamaloo district, where protests have been held.

Schools are open but some Kashmiri parents are keeping their children at home

Photo credit: UNICEF / Vishwanathan

"Troops have arrested children in the last two weeks and several children were injured in clashes. Our children are safe inside their homes. If they go to school who can guarantee their safety?"

On Monday only one student showed up at Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School, which has an enrolment of 1,000, said a school official. There were no students at the barricaded Burn Hall school in one of the city's high -security zones.

By Wednesday, all middle schools in Kashmir Valley were reopened - but they were virtually empty. 

Yesterday some schools were beginning to fill up but in southern Kashmir attendance was only 2% or 3%.

Lack of learning for Rohingya refugees

More than 600 new learning centres are needed urgently to help thousands of Rohingya refugee children who are getting no education.

While informal education has been supplied to 280,000 children aged four to 14, another 25,000 are not attending any learning programmes. And 97% of adolescents aged 15 to 18 are not getting any kind of education.

Two years after 745,000 Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar. the figures are revealed in a new report by UNICEF about the plight of the young refugees. 

UNICEF is supporting the development of youth centres and adolescent clubs in which life skills, psychosocial support, basic literacy and numeracy and vocational skills are provided.

“Our aim is to help equip adolescents with the skills they need to deal with many risks they encounter such as trafficking, abuse, and – in the case of girls – early marriage,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Tomoo Hozumi.

Conflict keeps children out of school long after it ends

Many of Northern Uganda's girls and boys are still not getting an education

Photo credit: Enrico Donelli

The long-lasting effects of conflict on children's education - even after the violence has ended - has been shown in a report from Uganda.

Armed conflict in the north of the country disrupted children’s access to education from the early 1980s until 2007. But the damage done to the communities' infrastructure, economic assets and social fabric continues to be felt and resulted in a 20% drop in primary school enrolment between 2013 and 2018.

Enrolment and attendance decreased after the age of eight for girls and 13 for boys. The findings come from a report by the Security Livelihoods Research Consortium- a global programme exploring the effect of fragile and conflict-affected situations.

A family told the researchers: "One chiId stopped [attending school] in primary five in the second term of 2018 because there was no money to pay the fees. We are six children in the household but two are still young and four of us were going to school. But right now, none of us are going to school because there is no money."

Girls' education boost as Mozambique bans child marriage

Child marriage - which forces many girls to drop out of school - is to be banned in Mozambique after a two-year campaign by gender equality organisations.

The minimum age for marriage has been set at 18. Currently adolescents can marry at 16 with the consent of their parents. 

The legal change, which has to be ratified by the president, was welcomed as "a historic commitment to uphold the rights of girls,” by Anne Hoff, Country Director of Plan International Mozambique, which played an integral role in drafting the bill.

She said: “Mozambique has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with almost half of girls marrying before 18 and more than one in 10 married before their 15th birthday.

“This law helps pave the way for millions of girls who would have been robbed of their childhoods, to continue their education and reach their potential.”

School meals programmes tackle nutrition crisis in Latin America

School meals in Latin America play an important role in the fight against hunger and malnutrition

Photo credit: WFP

School meals across Latin America and the Caribbean region are helping to ensure that children are healthy, stay in school and are able to concentrate on their classes.

About 85 million students are given breakfast and a snack or lunch each school day through the School Feeding Programs (SFP) - mainly from each country's national budget.

A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said the SFP is playing an important role in the fight against hunger and nutrition problems. More than 7% of preschool children and between 20 and 40% of school-age children and adolescents in the region are overweight because of poor diet. 

The report said: "Attention to quality and safety, the composition of food baskets and their role in promoting healthy food in and out of school has also been stimulated by the growing rates of overweight and obesity in the region."

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