An explosion in a school classroom, comics to help disaster planning and the need for investment in early learning are featured in our weekly news roundup.
Classroom explosion injures students
Police are investigating an explosion that injured at least 26 school students in their classroom in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
A powerful blast shook the private school at Narbal village in southern Pulwama district two days ago.
One of the students told GreaterKashmir.com: “We had just finished with our English class when a sudden blast took place inside our classroom, leaving many students injured.”
An official said most of the victims had injuries to their legs, but none were critically hurt. The students are believed to be aged 15 and 16.
The cause of the explosion is not yet known. Reports said young boys had previously died or been injured while playing with explosives found at the sites of between rebels and Indian troops in the disputed Himalayan region.
Schools should be safe places where children can learn free from conflict, violence and fear. But Theirworld's recent report Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis said that between 2013 and 2017 there were more than 12,700 attacks on schools, harming more than 21,000 students and educators in at least 70 countries.
ECD needs rapid global investment
An international declaration on early childhood development (ECD) - which calls for a rapid increase in global investment - was announced this week. The philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares and UNICEF unveiled the “Dubai Declaration on Early Childhood Development” at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
It calls for a rapid increase in global investment in the first years of children’s lives. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Chairperson of Dubai Cares, said: “Giving every child, no matter where they live, the best start in life is the best way to ensure healthy and prosperous individuals, communities and nations."
The declaration identifies the elements and approaches for a package of services for young children and their caregivers - from stimulation and play to nutrition.
Theirworld has been campaigning for countries and international donors to invest 10% of their education spending on early childhood development and to provide two years of free, quality pre-primary education to every child.
Uganda refugees need education aid
It’s vital that refugee children in Uganda get back into education as quickly as possible, says a new report today on the effect of conflicts.
Save the Children cited South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo as countries where children are particularly vulnerable to being killed or injured, attacked in their schools or recruited by armed groups. Most of the 1.2 million refugees in Uganda have fled those countries.
The report - Stop the War on Children - stresses the importance of urgently getting refugee children back into education, to help them return to a sense of normalcy and have an opportunity for a better future. 57% of refugee children in Uganda are out of school, as well as 34% of the local host community in refugee-hosting districts.
Brechtje van Lith, the charity’s country director in Uganda, said: “Uganda has been a safe haven for refugee children for many years and it’s vitally important that this continues. We must do all we can to protect them from further harm and help rebuild their future.”
The report said analysis showed 870,000 children under the age of five died in conflict areas around the world between 2013 and 2017 – five times as many as the number of fighters killed. It said an average of 300 babies die every day as the result of conflict.
Comics and films help kids prepare for disasters
Millions of school students in Indonesia will learn how to be prepared for natural disasters. There will be classes on disaster mitigation at 250,000 schools in areas prone to earthquakes, flooding and other crises.
“We will make it easier for students to understand by presenting comics, games and short films,” said Lilik Kurniawan, community empowerment director of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
The BNPB will also evaluate emergency facilities at disaster-prone schools, including emergency routes and the nearest exits for each classroom. A nationwide disaster drill will be held at schools on April 26.
Theirworld's report Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis said about half of the 75 million children who have their education disrupted each year do so from environmental threats, including natural disasters and disease outbreaks. Despite this, education is rarely a core focus in emergency responses.
Alarming rise in number of child soldiers
A shocking increase in the number of child soldiers around the world has been revealed - along with the exploitation of girls by armed groups.
To mark International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers this week, a report found 8,185 new verified cases in 15 countries last year - an increase of 159% since 2013. There were 893 new verified cases of girls associated with armed groups and forces, four times higher than the 2017 figure.
The alarming trend was revealed by Child Soldiers International, whose Director Isabelle Guitard said: “These statistics alone are shocking and probably only scratch the surface on the true scale of child exploitation by armed actors around the world.”
Apart from the risk of violence and trauma, the development and education of recruited children is disrupted.
In South Sudan, more child soldiers have been released. A total of 119 children - 48 of them girls - were the latest to be freed by armed forces and groups.
More than 3,100 have been released since the conflict began. But UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said: “There is a long way to go before all of the more than 19,000 children still in their ranks are returned to their families.”