August 30, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

Delivering education to girls in conflict zones will be a priority for the UK funding

Photo credit: UNICEF / Sokol

Our roundup includes a UK funding boost for children in crises, the latest numbers of refugee children out of school and G7 leaders backing girls' education.

UK funding to help 600,000 children go to school in crisis countries

Vulnerable children caught up in conflicts and crises around the world will get the chance to go to school thanks to $110 million (£90 million) of funding from the United Kingdom.

The money will benefit 600,000 children and youth through the work of Education Cannot Wait - the global fund for education in emergencies.

Girls - who are more than twice as likely to be out of school if they live in conflict areas - will be a priority, as will children with disabilities, minority groups and refugees. 

The UK commitment was made at the G7 summit in France at the weekend.

“This generous contribution for education in emergencies by the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) to Education Cannot Wait is the largest single contribution received and will have a massive, positive impact,” said  Yasmine Sherif, the fund's Director.

Theirworld's #WriteTheWrong campaign is calling for Education Cannot Wait to be fully funded and wants more donors to pledge support at the United Nations General Assembly next month. The fund needs $1.8 billion in commitments to launch multi-year educational responses in 25 priority countries by 2021.

Theirworld President Justin van Fleet said: "Far too many young people are caught up in war, conflict and emergency and being systematically locked out of opportunity. 

"The UK commitment should encourage other donors to step up to the plate and fully fund Education Cannot Wait so we can #WriteTheWrong and end the global education crisis.”

The education challenge for world's refugee children

More than of the world's refugee children continue to be out of school, a new report has revealed today. The UN agency UNHCR said that of the 7.1 million refugee children of school age, 3.7 million are not getting an education.

That's down slightly from the four million reported by UNHCR at this time last year. But the proportions of refugee children in primary (63%) and secondary school (23%) are virtually the same as in 2018. Globally, 91% of non-refugee children are in primary school

The report - Stepping Up: Refugee Education in Crisis - said the steep decline in refugee enrolment between primary and secondary school is the direct result of lack of funding for refugee education.

“We need to invest in refugee education or pay the price of a generation of children condemned to grow up unable to live independently, find work and be full contributors to their communities,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

G7 leaders back girls' access to education

Girls are more than twice as likely to be out of education

Photo credit: UN Photo

Equal access to quality education for girls is crucial, the leaders of the world's most powerful countries agreed at the G7 summit in France.

In a declaration, they said: “We are convinced that equal access to quality education is vital to achieve the empowerment and equal opportunity of girls and women, especially in developing contexts and countries struggling with conflict."

The leaders said they welcomed approaches to address the barriers faced by girls and "in particular, the Gender at the Center Initiative”. It was developed with the French government, the Global Partnership for Education, the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative, UNESCO, UNICEF and Plan International.

The initiative will bring together countries' ministries working on gender issues (education, health and others) with others to address the social and cultural barriers that perpetuate gender inequality and keep girls out of school. 

Rising attacks on education in West and Central Africa

The countries where rising violence has led to the closure of thousands of schools

Photo credit: UNICEF

Of the 742 verified attacks on schools across the world in 2019, more than a quarter of them happened in five countries in West and Central Africa.

As of June this year, insecurity in eight countries in the region led to the closure of over 9,200 schools - affecting more than 1.91 million children and nearly 44,000 teachers.

The shocking facts are contained in a new UNICEF report called Education Under Attack of West and Central Africa. It reveals the number of schools forced to close by attacks, threats and increasing violence tripled between the end of 2017 and June 2019.

Nearly half of the closed schools are in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon - 4,437 schools were shut by June, driving more than 609,000 children out of education. 

Children 'barred from Iraqi schools by parents' beliefs'

A school at Hammam al-Alil camp for displaced people south of Mosul

Photo credit: Belkis Wille / Human Rights Watch

Children in Iraq are being shut out of school because their parents have a perceived affiliation to Islamic State, according to Human Rights Watch.

“Denying children their right to education because of something their parents might have done is a grossly misguided form of collective punishment,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at the right group. “It undermines any potential government efforts to counter extremist ideology by pushing these children to the margins of society.”

The children affected were born or lived in areas under the control of Islamic State between 2014 and 2017. They lack the documentation needed to enrol in school.

Education ministry officials said last year that would not prevent children from accessing school. But the HRW report said "officials are instructing school principals and aid groups providing support services for education that undocumented children are still barred from enrolling in government schools".

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