Five things you need to know this week about global education
Children in conflicts, Discrimination of marginalised children, Education in emergencies, Safe schools, Safe Schools Declaration
The killing of school students in Sudan, education aid for children in Central African Republic and turning flip flops into schools are in our news roundup.
Sudan shuts all schools after students are shot dead at protest
Classes at all schools in Sudan have been suspended indefinitely after four students were shot dead at a demonstration.
“Killing a student is killing a nation,” chanted hundreds of schoolchildren, dressed in their uniforms and waving Sudanese flags, as they took to the streets of the capital Khartoum. Protests by school students were also held in other cities.
The high school students were killed and more than 60 people wounded, some by snipers, when they rallied in Al-Obeid against fuel and bread shortages on Sunday. Lack of fuel has seen many children unable to get transport to school.
On Tuesday, the authorities ordered all schools nationwide to suspend classes. The official SUNA news agency said: “Orders have been given to governors of all states to shut kindergartens, primary and high schools from tomorrow (Wednesday) until further notice.”
UNICEF called on Sudanese authorities to investigate the killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Sudan, said: “The children, aged between 15 and 17, were protesting the commencement of the school year amid the political uncertainty in Sudan. No child should be buried in their school uniform.”
The main protest group, the Sudanese Professionals Association, called for nationwide rallies against the “massacre”.
It added: “The Janjaweed forces and some snipers, without any mercy, confronted school students with live ammunition” – referring to the Rapid Support Forces which have their origins in Arab militias.
Sudan’s military council said today that the governor of North Kordofan state and its security council will be held accountable for the killings.
New talks between protest leaders and ruling generals on the country’s transition from military rule to an elected government were delayed by the protests but started yesterday.
UN reports record number of conflict child victims
More than 12,000 children were killed or maimed last year in armed conflict – the highest since the UN began monitoring the numbers two decades ago.
The number of verified attacks on schools and hospitals globally fell to 1,056 in 2018 – but they increased significantly in some conflict countries such as Afghanistan and Syria.
The Annual Report of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict also showed:
- Over 7,000 children were recruited by armed groups, with the highest numbers in Somalia, Nigeria and Syria.
- Access continued to be denied to children in many war-torn countries. In Mali, for example, 827 schools were closed at the end of 2018, shutting out 244,000 children
“It is immensely sad that children continue to be disproportionately affected by armed conflict and it is horrific to see them killed and maimed as a result of hostilities. It is imperative that all parties to conflicts prioritise the protection of children,” said Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
Refugee schools helped by education support for Djibouti
Refugee schools will be integrated into the mainstream education system as part of a new package of education support for Djibouti.
Funds will support pre-school learning, help to enrol and retain more children – especially girls – in primary and lower secondary schools, and improve teaching practices and learning materials.
The Global Partnership for Education is providing $10 million for Djibouti. The funds will also leverage significant additional donor financing for a results-based programme that focuses on the most vulnerable children.
Co-financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association ($15 million) and the Qatar-based Educate a Child ($3.8 million) takes the total financing to almost $28.8 million.
The government will be supported in making public schools more inclusive for refugee children and taking on the operation of schools in refugee settlements formerly run by NGOs or the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
Making schools out of flip flops and tyres
The problems of too much plastic and not enough schools are being tackled by a factory in Cote d’Ivoire, which is transforming old flip flops and car tyres into bricks to build classrooms.
The factory will be the first of its kind in Africa and aims to produce enough plastic bricks to build 500 classrooms across the country by 2021.
The interlocking bricks – cheaper and lighter than many conventional building materials – require no cement, are fire retardant and stay cool in hot weather. Most existing schools are built from mud bricks, which erode in the sun and rain.
Local women who make a living collecting plastic waste will supply the factory in Abidjan.
“By turning plastic pollution into an opportunity, we want to help lift women out of poverty and leave a better world for children,” said Isabel Cristina Gamez, CEO of Conceptos Plasticos, the plastic recycling company building the factory.
Education help for 70,000 children in Central African Republic
Nearly 70,000 out-of-school children in Central African Republic (CAR) benefited from access to education in the first half of 2019, new figures have shown. Another 26,000 received education materials.
Almost 50,000 children badly affected by the crisis received psychosocial support from trained teachers through child friendly spaces, according to UNICEF’s latest situation report from the troubled country.
UNICEF and MINUSCA (the UN mission in CAR) continued to negotiate with armed groups to end the recruitment of child soldiers. So far this year, 942 children – including 209 girls – have been released.
Last month UNICEF CAR made a joint appeal with the ministry of child protection, calling for an end to attacks on schools.