Our news roundup includes a programme to deliver education to 800,000 children in crisis-hit Burkina Faso and a UN plea to keep all schools open during the pandemic.
Education aid for crisis country
A new multi-year programme will help to provide education for more than 800,000 children and youth in troubled Burkina Faso.
Education Cannot Wait - the global fund for education in emergencies - is working with the country's government, UNICEF and Enfants du Monde to overcome the effects of Covid-19 and an ongoing security crisis that has closed more than 2,300 schools and disrupted education for over 400,000 children.
ECW Director Yasmine Sherif travelled to Burkina Faso to officially launch the programme, which was part of a package announced last week for countries in the Central Sahel region of Africa.
Speaking at the launch in Ouagadougou yesterday, she revealed more details of the initial three-year $11.1 million allocation in seed funding from ECW. The programme aims to mobilise an additional $48 million from public and private donors to reach all targeted children and youth.
Sherif said: "The crisis in Burkina Faso and in the whole Central Sahel is among the fastest deteriorating in the world. We can either watch and do nothing or we can actually act now by investing in children and adolescents.”
One in four children aged six to 11 are out of school in Burkina Faso and less than a third complete primary school in the worst-affected regions.
Of ECW’s multi-year funding in the country, 60% is aimed at girls. It will also focus on the most vulnerable, including forcibly displaced and host community children, and children with disabilities. The programme will ensure continuity from early childhood education (25% of the children targeted) to primary (43%) and secondary (33%).
Keep schools open pleads UNICEF chief
Countries should do everything they can to keep schools open during the pandemic - because children cannot afford another year of learning disruption, the head of UNICEF has warned.
Executive Director Henrietta Fore said the cost of school shutdowns has been devastating, with 90% of students globally locked out of classrooms last year and more than a third of schoolchildren having no access to remote education.
“Despite overwhelming evidence of the impact of school closures on children and despite increasing evidence that schools are not drivers of the pandemic, too many countries have opted to keep schools closed - some for nearly a year,” Fore said in a statement.
“The number of out-of-school children is set to increase by 24 million, to a level we have not seen in years and have fought so hard to overcome. Children’s ability to read, write and do basic math has suffered and the skills they need to thrive in the 21st-century economy have diminished."
'We can get all children back in school'
World leaders can step up to ensure children from the poorest countries return to school following disruptions caused by the pandemic.
That's the finding of a report by Save the Children, which said it will cost about $50 billion - an average of £280 per child - to safely open schools again and get learning back on track for 136 million children in 59 countries.
Analysis published in Save Our Education Now found that almost 10 million children are at risk of not returning to school and adds: "This is likely to be a significant underestimate."
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children UK, said: “The UK and other donors must step up and ensure the life chances of the poorest and most marginalised children, including girls, are not robbed by this pandemic."
Classrooms reopen in Greece
In other Covid-related news, Greece reopened kindergartens and primary schools this week, while Romanian schools will reopen next month after a three-month closure.
Austrian schools will receive five million coronavirus testing kits from next week. France will carry out at least one million tests per month in schools as part of a strategy to keep them open.
Polish children in the first three years of primary school will return to normal lessons from Monday. But the Netherlands will extend lockdown measures, including the closure of schools, by at least three weeks. Students staged a sit-in protest outside their school in Rome this week on Monday, urging the government to reopen the education sector.
South Africa announced today it is delaying the start to its new school year by two weeks to February 15. Cuba is shutting down schools again during the worst outbreak of the virus since the pandemic began.
Education boost for girls in Chad
The African Development Bank has approved its first grant exclusively targeting education and literacy for women and girls.
The $11.26 million funding for Chad's Girls' Education and Women's Literacy Project will help to improve access to quality secondary education for 5,000 girls, as well as training 2,200 teachers and administrative officials.
It will also provide literacy programmes to more than 7,500 women in the Hadjer Lamis, Ouaddaï and N'Djaména regions.
The project has a component to raise awareness of the importance of girls' schooling to reduce early marriage and pregnancy. In Chad, 67% of girls are married before the age of 18 and 30% before the age of 15.