Five things you need to know this week about global education

Yasmine Sherif At Kos Education Centre
Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif talks to refugees at an education centre on the Greek island of Kos, watched by Theirworld President Justin van Fleet

Coronavirus and education, Education Cannot Wait, Education in emergencies

New Education Cannot Wait funding will help hundreds of thousands of children in crisis countries get access to learning - plus Ugandan students go back to school after two years. 

Education lifeline for children in crisis countries

Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children in crisis zones will be able to learn this year thanks to major funding from the United Nations’ fund for education in emergencies. 

Education Cannot Wait announced four major grants to countries affected by displacement, conflict and Covid-19. The aim is for this funding to mobilise additional financing to expand the programmes. 

In Bangladesh, a $13.2 million grant will reach 130,000 Rohingya refugee and Bangladeshi children, with 60% going to girls’ education and 10% to help children with disabilities. ECW and partners is to scale up the multi-year programme to reach 350,000 young people impacted by the pandemic and the Rohingya refugee crisis. 

“These children and youth have experienced the trauma of losing their homes and loved ones, and have suffered long-term displacement, fires and the devastating impacts of Covid-19,” said ECW Director Yasmine Sherif. 

In Burundi, a $12 million grant will reach more than 130,000 girls and boys affected by crises that have left 1.9 million children and adolescents out of school. The programme aims to catalyse additional funds to reach 300,000 vulnerable young people. 

In Lebanon, another $12 million grant will reach more than 233,000 girls and boys – two-thirds of them refugees. Extra investment would help 875,000 vulnerable school-aged girls and boys. 

In Pakistan, $13.2 million will help 155,000 children and adolescents – 60% of them girls and 12% children with disabilities. 

Uganda schools to reopen at last

Uganda has revealed details of how children will finally return to school after the world’s longest education shutdown caused by Covid-19. Most children have been shut out of classrooms since March 2020. 

President Yoweri Museveni confirmed that all pre-primary, primary and secondary schools will reopen from Monday, with start dates phased according to grades and regions. 

In the United States, schools in some cities including Chicago delayed this week’s scheduled return to classrooms or switched to remote learning. 

But White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said: “We know how to keep our kids safe in school. About 96% of schools are open.” 

Philippines to repair schools wrecked by typhoon

The Philippines will need to spend more than $60 million rebuilding and repairing schools damaged by Typoon Rai last month. 

About 15 million students from 35,000 schools were affected in some way by the devastating weather, with many schools also flooded or used as shelters for displaced families. 

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the money was needed after 1,086 classrooms were completely destroyed and 1,316 damaged. 

In a press briefing, he showed pictures of damaged schools. He said one of them, Baybay Elementary School in Siargao, “seemed like it went through a grinder.” 

Young people reclaim building used as prison

A building used as a prison by Islamic State in Iraq has been reclaimed by young people as a centre where they can learn life and leadership skills, play educational games and become more involved in their communities. 

Previously it was used as a “House of Youth” until Islamic State turned it into a prison in 2014 and left it severely damaged. 

Young people decided to turn it back to its original use and the Ramadi Youth Safe Space is now officially open after being refurbished by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). 

Rita Columbia, the UNFPA Representative in Iraq, said: “I am very proud of the young volunteers who had a dream and made it a reality.” 

Ghana doubles down on education funding

Ghana has almost doubled its spending on education and placed a greater emphasis on teaching, its President revealed this week. 

Nana Akufo-Addo thanked teachers for their commitment during the pandemic as he announced his government’s education investment had increased by 95% since his presidency began in 2017. 

He said: “To make a success of our nation, we must pay attention to teachers. It is only a group of well trained and motivated teachers that can help deliver the educated and skilled workforce we require to transform our economy and nation”.  

A 2020 report showed that about 70% of children in Ghana complete primary education but only 47% finish lower secondary and 35% upper secondary. 

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