June 14, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

A performance designed to highlight the issue of child marriage in Nepal, one of many countries where boys and girls are married off young

Photo credit: UNICEF / Panday

A Day of the African Child focus on the early learning crisis, the plight of child grooms and climate change lessons are all in our weekly news roundup.

Day of the African Child: too many missing out on preschool

This Sunday, June 16, is Day of the African Child - when children's rights are promoted on the continent and beyond.

Unless urgent action is taken, Africa will have one-third of the world’s children but 70% of the out-of-school population - compared to 40% today.

Their News has marked Day of the African Child by looking at the severe lack of investment in early childhood education that's putting millions of children at a disadvantage before they even start school.

Only one in four children aged three to five attend some form of preschool in sub-Saharan, West and Central Africa. Some of the issues around this have been addressed this week at an international early childhood development conference hosted by Rwanda. 

Day of the African Child will be celebrated at hundreds of events, such as the one above in Kibera, Kenya. In Ghana, the government is hosting a Day of the African Child event in Ampain refugee camp.  

The theme of this year's Day of the African Child is "Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First".

Togo failing to tackle child labour

Poverty drives many children in Togo into child labour instead of education

Photo credit: UNICEF

One example of the type of challenges children face in some African countries can be found in Togo. Child labour there is still widely accepted and the government is not doing enough to stop it, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.

Many children in the West African country are forced into domestic servitude or hard labour at a young age, driven by poverty and cultural tradition, said Urmila Bhoola following a visit to Togo to assess the situation. 

"There is a complete lack of data but it seems this practice mainly affects girls and some are sent abroad," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

School is free in Togo but remains out of reach for families who cannot afford books and uniforms, said Bhoola. In a practice known as "confiage", parents send their children to live with relatives who promise to send them to school in exchange for helping with housework, she said. But this is rarely what happens.

On World Day Against Child Labour this week, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization urged countries to allocate more financial resources to addressing child labour in domestic and local food supply chains and in subsistence farming.

Plight of 115 million child grooms

About 115 million men now aged between 20 and 24 were married off as children - with one in five wed before they turned 15, according to the first United Nations' study to track child grooms.

UNICEF analysed marriage and population data across 82 countries and found the Central African Republic had the highest prevalence of child grooms at 28%, followed by Nicaragua at 19% and Madagascar with 13%.

Children who are married young are likely to leave school, have limited economic opportunities and be more vulnerable to abuse and mental health problem.

"Marriage steals childhood," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "Child grooms are forced to take on adult responsibilities for which they may not be ready. Early marriage brings early fatherhood and with it added pressure to provide for a family, cutting short education and job opportunities."

Globally about one in every five women aged 20 to 24 were married before their 18th birthday compared to one in 30 men.

Teacher training boosts learning for 500,000 Angola students

As many as 500,000 schoolchildren will benefit from a programme in Angola that has been improving the knowledge and skills of 15,000 primary teachers.

The World Bank-supported Learning for All Project offers the first countrywide training for primary school teachers in 42 years of the country's independence

"I have learned how to work with students who are very slow in learning and how to keep them motivated," said Maria da Cruz, a 30-year teaching veteran from Luanda who was reluctant at first to attend the mandatory training.

Abilio Kaluvele, a third-grade student, said: “I did not like coming to school because the subjects were very difficult for me and I could not do anything. This year is different because now I understand mathematics, I can spell, write my name and I understand many things. Now school is good.”

Cambodian schools to teach climate change science

Cambodian schools have had to reduce their hours because of unusually high temperatures

Photo credit: UN Environment

School hours in Cambodia had to be reduced because of record heat waves - so it's apt that students there will be taught about the science behind climate change.

The subject is to be part of a new earth science curriculum for secondary school students from next year thanks to support from the European Union, Sweden and the United Nations Development Programme, the World Economic Forum reported.

As well as this, it said "in 15 pilot schools supported by the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance (CCCA), students benefited from additional teaching on climate change and worked jointly with teachers on resilience projects such as tree planting and climate-smart agriculture".

With two-third of the country's population under the age of 20, it is crucial they learn the new skills needed for jobs of the future and to tackle problems such as climate change.

We are a global children’s charity committed to giving the most vulnerable children and young people a brighter future in their world.

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