Five things you need to know this week about global education
Celebrities, Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies, Safe schools, Safe Schools Declaration
A big push to deliver education to children in Niger, attacks on schools in Kenya and Ukraine, and a movie star's appeal over refugees feature in our news roundup.
Big push to get 2.6m children in Niger into school
Efforts to get 2.6 million children in Niger into school by the year 2030 have been stepped up by the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), the government and international partners.
A workshop on out-of-school children was held in the capital Niamey and featured government officials and representatives of many UN agencies and NGOS, including Education Cannot Wait, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, World Bank and Global Partnership for Education.
A 2018 study estimated that 53.2% of children and adolescents in Niger were out of school – with the figure much higher in rural areas than urban. The country has been affected by growing conflict across the Sahel region.
Dr Bandar Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank, said: “We will deploy our moral and financial strength to work with the government of Niger and our development partners to ensure quality education for out-of-school children.” He said the solution includes using science, technology and innovation, as well as partnering with NGOs, academia and the private sector.
Militants kill three teachers in Kenya
A teaching union has threatened to evacuate its members from an area of Kenya after three teachers were shot dead in an attack on a primary school this week.
A child was also wounded by a stray bullet when suspected al Shabaab militants stormed Kamuthe primary school in Garissa County, near the border with Somalia.
The attack followed the deaths of four schoolchildren during a gunfight last week between al Shabaab and local police in Garissa.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers has now threatened to withdraw its members from schools in the area. The Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said the union has asked for urgent talks with the Education Secretary and added: “If we are not granted a meeting, we will mobilise teachers to move out. Teachers are already calling me that they want to move out.”
School supplies finally reach troubled Sudanese province
Education supplies have reached a conflict-torn area of Sudan for the first time in nine years.
Eight hundred children will be able to access education after supplies – including school-in-a-box kits containing everything needed for teaching – were transported from South Sudan across the border to South Kordofan province.
Several years of conflict has left many children vulnerable, out of school and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. UNICEF and the World Food Programme worked together to deliver the kits and schools will be up and running in days.
UNICEF is also working with government and state education ministries to ensure long-term quality education services are set up across South Kordofan.
Attacks on schools in Ukraine double
The number of attacks on schools in Ukraine doubled in 2019 compared to the previous year, a new report has revealed. The Ukraine Education Cluster said it was aware of 36 conflict-related incidents that caused damage to schools – including 10 that resulted in the threat of death or injury to students, teachers and parents.
A single school in Luhanska oblast was damaged 15 times between January and October. None of the attacks caused massive destruction but they made the school extremely unsafe for children and staff.
Since the conflict began in 2014, more than 750 education facilities have been damaged and many more have seen classes disrupted. The Ukraine Education Cluster estimates that over 700,000 children and teachers in more than 3,500 education facilities in the east of the country are affected by the hostilities and in need of humanitarian assistance.
In November, the Ukrainian government signed the Safe Schools Declaration – a public commitment to protect schools from attack and military occupation.
Liam Neeson's plea on Venezuelan children
Movie star Liam Neeson appealed for more support for Venezuelan refugee children after seeing efforts to integrate them into Brazilian schools.
The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador took part in recreational and educational activities that help children and adolescents move into school in their adopted country. Liam joined an out-of-school holiday bootcamp that brings together Venezuelan and Brazilian adolescents to foster friendships through sport and cultural activities.
“They are exhausted, vulnerable and still in shock as they left everything behind them,” he said. “But I also saw hope in the eyes of refugee children who seized every opportunity to learn in a safe environment, grow healthy and eventually rebuild their lives in Brazil.”
The actor joined UNICEF in urging the international community to increase its support to refugee and migrant children from Venezuela in need of assistance across Latin America and the Caribbean.
Almost four million Venezuelans have fled to neighbouring countries since 2015 to escape the economic crisis. More than one million children in Venezuela are out of school.