December 13, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

Bullying – online or in person – is a serious global problem affecting high percentages of children

Photo credit: UNICEF

A new international day against bullying at school and a $100m grant to promote play-based learning for young children in crises are in our roundup.

UN declares new global day against bullying at school

Almost one in three children have been bullied at school in the past month - and cyber intimidation is rising rapidly.

The consequences of violence and bullying at school are far-reaching. The effects on victims include lack of concentration in class, missing lessons, avoiding school activities, playing truant or dropping out of school altogether.

From next year, the International Day against Violence and Bullying at School Including Cyberbullying will be held on the first Thursday in November. UNESCO announced the new global day to spotlight the issue and call for initiatives to stamp out violence and bullying at school and online.

From a UNESCO report on bullying and violence at school

Photo credit: UNESCO

Stefania Giannini,  UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, said: "We know what works - from strong political leadership and collaboration between partners and the community, to better data, teacher training and positive school environments. 

"It’s time for these to be fully applied, so we can put an end to the devastating issue of school violence.” 

Theirworld's report Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis revealed as many as half the world’s teens have experienced bullying in and around school. One in 10 girls and women under the age of 20 have been subjected to sexual violence in a school.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian government announced this week that schoolchildren will receive lessons on LGBT+ issues from 2020 in a bid to wipe out discrimination. From grade seven, which is around the age of 13, modules covering sexual orientation and gender identity will be part of sex education lessons.

ECW invests record $64m in four crisis countries

The funding will reach girls and boys that have been left behind as the result of ongoing crises and emergency

Photo credit: ECW

Education Cannot Wait has announced a record $64 million investment in multi-year programmes in Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria.

The seed funding grants aim to mobilise more than $1 billion over the next three years to provide about five million children and youth with improved access to inclusive, equitable, safe and protective learning.

Education Cannot Wait is the global fund for education in emergencies. Director Yasmine Sherif said: “Across the world, the number of children and youth suffering the brunt of wars, disasters and forced displacement is on the rise, as humanitarian crises are lasting longer than ever before.

"Girls and boys living in the most challenging conditions in Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria have been waiting for too long for the hope and protection that only education can offer.” 

The multi-year programmes are designed to bridge the gap between emergency response and long-term development. They all have specific focuses on reaching the most marginalised and vulnerable children and youth, such as girls and children with disabilities.

LEGO Foundation's $100m to deliver learning through play

The LEGO Foundation has awarded a $100 million grant to promote play-based, early learning solutions for pre-primary and primary school-aged children impacted by the humanitarian crises in East Africa.

The initiative called PlayMatters will deliver play-based learning to children in Ethiopia and Uganda - strengthening their resilience and building their social, emotional, cognitive, physical and creative skills.

It will improve education outcomes for about 800,000 children and reach approximately 10,000 pre-primary and primary school teachers and education personnel and 170,000 primary caregivers. They will be trained to engage in learning through play with children who have faced adversities.

The grant has been given to a consortium led by the International Rescue Committee and including War Child, Plan International, Ubongo, Behavioural Insights Team and Innovations for Poverty Action.

$500m grants to help schooling in poorest countries

Half a billion dollars in grants will help children across the world

Photo credit: GPE

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) will exceed half a billion dollars in new grants during 2019 to improve education in some of the world's poorest countries.

The latest awards will support efforts by Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia (Somaliland and Puntland) and Zimbabwe to strengthen their education systems and make quality schooling available to more children.

GPE, which partners with nearly 70 developing countries, has now approved more than $312 million in funding in 2019. New grant applications totalling $220 million were also received in the last quarterly round of grant proposals this year.

GPE Board Chair Julia Gillard said: “These new grants will help drive real and important progress, including getting more children in school – especially girls and children from disadvantaged communities – and ensuring that the quality of the schooling they receive gives them what they need to learn and grow.”

Court orders Sierra Leone to end ban on pregnant schoolgirls

Pregnant girls are banned from attending schools in several African countries

West Africa's top court has ordered Sierra Leone to revoke a ban on pregnant girls in school, a move activists hope could lead to challenges against similar laws across Africa.

The continent has the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world and 18 African countries require pregnant girls to drop out of school. Sierra Leone's ban was adopted in 2015 as teenage pregnancies rose during an Ebola epidemic. Critics say it has increased stigma for pregnant girls and sent thousands back in their studies.

The government has created part-time centres where pregnant girls canstudy - but the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court in Nigeria ruled this was not sufficient.

"This is a great victory and will set a strong precedent across Africa," said Judy Gitau, the head of women's rights group Equality Now, which brought the case. "We're confident (the government) will make a decision to lift the ban."

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