December 06, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

Mariam (with the blue shawl) and her family fled conflict and found refuge in this village near Mazar in Afghanistan.

Photo credit: UNOCHA / Charlotte Cans

The urgent need for millions of children affected by conflicts and disasters to access education is the theme this week of our news roundup.

40% of refugee children miss out on primary school

Four in 10 refugee children of primary school-age are deprived of education, a global report on humanitarian crises has revealed.

Among the key education statistics in the United Nations' Global Humanitarian Overview 2020 are:

  • 61% of refugee children worldwide attend primary school.
  • 2.3 million Syrian refugee children are enrolled in formal education in host countries in the region
  • 20% of children between the ages of six and 11 in sub-Saharan Africa are out of school
  • 60% of girls in sub-Saharan African countries with an inter-agency humanitarian appeal completed primary school - compared to 90% globally

"Children in crises are becoming a lost generation and women and girls in particular are at even higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence," said Mark Lowcock, the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the launch of the report.

UN OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) said armed conflicts are killing and maiming a record number of children, forcing them to flee their homes. 

The report revealed 167 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance because of conflicts and natural disasters. The worst crisis is in Yemen, where almost 80% of people need help.

UNICEF aims to help 10m children with emergency education

Nilda, six, receives an education pack in Beira, Mozambique

Photo credit: UNICEF / Oatway

UNICEF wants to help 10.2 million children affected by conflicts and disasters to have access to formal or non-formal education, including early learning, during 2020. The UN children's agency laid out its plans as it launched a $4.2 billion emergency appeal to reach 59 million children with life-saving support in 64 countries.

"Around the world today, we’re seeing the largest number of children in need of emergency assistance since we began record-keeping. One in four children lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

The money is needed to provide children caught in humanitarian emergencies with education, health and protection, as well as access to water, sanitation and nutrition. The five largest individual appeals are for Syrian refugees and host communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey; Yemen; Syria; the Democratic Republic of Congo; and South Sudan.

In the first eight months of 2019, UNICEF and partners reached nearly 51 million people including 29 million children. 3.9 million children accessed formal or non-formal education, including early learning.

ECW delivers education to children in Ethiopian refugee camps

The classrooms have been constructed as part of a $15 million two-year investment from Education Cannot Wait

Photo credit: UNICEF / Nahom

More than 8,000 children will get quality education thanks to 84 new classrooms in Ethiopian refugee camps through funding from Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

They were built as part of a $15 million two-year investment from the global fund for education emergencies and inaugurated by the Gambella Regional Government and UNICEF. The classrooms will expand education opportunities for children in four refugee camps and host communities in Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz regions.

ECW is also supporting the building of three inclusive model secondary schools and 41 classrooms in eight secondary schools to benefit 3,600 children from refugee camps and the surrounding host communities in the two regions.

Since April 2017, ECW has reached more than 138,000 children in refugee and host communities in Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz. Support has included training refugee and host community teachers in child-centered teaching methods and conducting accelerated school readiness classes for over 12,000 out-of-school children aged six and seven.

Bangladesh urged to help educate Rohingya refugees

Almost 400,000 Rohingya refugee children living in camps in Bangladesh are being denied their right to education, an investigation by Human Rights Watch has claimed.

It said aid groups are being prevented from delivering meaningful education by the Bangladeshi government, which also banned refugees from attending schools outside the camps.

“The government of Bangladesh saved countless lives by opening its borders and providing refuge to the Rohingya - but it needs to end its misguided policy of blocking education for Rohingya children,” said Bill Van Esveld, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.  

The report - Are We Not Human? - documents how Bangladesh prohibits aid groups in the refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district from providing Rohingya children with accredited or formal education.

Artillery attack kills eight children as they leave Syrian school

Many schools in Syria have been destroyed or damaged by shelling during the long conflict

Photo credit: UNICEF / Al-Issa

Eight children were among 11 civilians killed in a Turkish artillery attack near a school in a northern Syrian town in Aleppo province, a war monitor said.

The shelling on Tal Rifaat, controlled by local Kurdish fighters, happened on Monday as students were leaving the building and wounded 21 others, said the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It said most of those killed in the attack were displaced from the Afrin region which was captured last year by Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies.

Turkey is not one of the 100 countries that have signed the Safe Schools Declaration, a commitment to protect schools from attack and military occupation.

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