June 28, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

Pledges of new funding from donors means UNRWA can deliver its education and other services to Palestinian children and their families

Photo credit: UNRWA / Lamya'a Husein

Our roundup features good news for Palestinian students, vulnerable children in Somalia and pre-primary education in Morocco.

Palestinian schools funding crisis eases after plea by students

The United Nations agency that provides education for 526,000 Palestinian children has avoided another funding crisis - after a passionate plea from two school students.

More than $110 million was raised at a pledging conference to support UNRWA, which has been struggling since the United States slashed funding last year. Pierre Krähenbühl, head of the agency that spends over half of its money on education, said the funding would cover costs for the coming months.

The Palestinian students told a UN meeting how funding was making a lasting and positive impact on the lives of millions of children like them in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“UNRWA education is just like oxygen - it keeps us alive,” said Hatem Hamdouna, President of the Gaza Student Parliament, adding that UNRWA schools give kids a sense of normality. "Children there do not want to be seen as victims. I chose to study hard and become a young leader.”

Hanan Abu Asabah, President of the UNRWA Student Parliament, said she studies more than just mathematics, science and language at school. Students learn about human rights and democracy too. 

She talked about fears that schools would not reopen last year after the summer break due to lack of funding, adding: “We hope our schools will open on time this year too.”

Morocco to expand pre-primary education

Half of children aged four and five don't currently get pre-primary education

Photo credit: World Bank

A $500 million programme will support cash-strapped Morocco to expand access to pre-primary education and improve its quality.

Despite all children going to primary school, only 50% of those aged four and five attended pre-school in 2017. The World Bank funding will help Morocco increase access to pre-primary education and invest in better-quality teacher training.

“In less than 20 years, the country achieved universal access to education for girls and boys. However, learning outcomes have remained stubbornly modest,” said Marie Françoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Maghreb Country Director.

Theirworld is campaigning for every country to spend 10% of its education budget on crucial early childhood education .

Education aid for 580,000 vulnerable Somali children

More than 580,000 vulnerable children in Somalia - a country stricken by decades of conflict, widespread violence and disasters - will be helped by ground-breaking multi-year education programmes. 

Education Cannot Wait - the fund for education in emergencies - announced a $14 million allocation to support the launch of programmes in the Federal Government of Somalia and its member states Somaliland and Puntland. 

About three million children are out of school across Somalia and only 30% of boys and 21% of girls attend primary school. At secondary level, access to education is even more limited, especially for girls - 92% of adolescents are not enrolled.

“This investment reaches those left furthest behind. We hope that this marks an end to their long wait for the basic right to education,” said Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif.

80% of schools closed in Cameroon crisis areas

A school for refugees in Cameroon. Conflict has led to the closure of 80% of schools in the Anglophone regions of the country

Photo credit: UNHCR / Gaelle Massack

More than 80% of schools in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon have been closed by violence and threats - disrupting the education of over 600,000 children.

"For many children, it has been three years since they last stepped foot in a classroom," said UNICEF spokesperson Toby Fricker. "At least 74 schools have been destroyed, while students, teachers and school personnel have been exposed to violence, abduction and intimidation. Since 2018, more than 300 students and teachers have been kidnapped."

Fricker was giving a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Cameroon, where 650,000 children are among 1.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Over 500 million school-age children and adolescents live in countries where schools face threats. Theirworld's report Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis projects that without urgent action that will rise by 2030 to over 620 million young people - almost one in three.

Armed men at school gate 'tried to stop me getting education'

Naeema Zehri walked past gunmen each day to get to school in Balochistan, Pakistan

Naeema Zehri has told the remarkable story of her struggle to get an education - bravely walking past armed men determined to stop girls going to school.

She said that for several years she feared being shot by the gunmen who surrounded the school at a village in Balochistan province, Pakistan.

Naeema told the BBC: "It was a clear message to the people. Don't send your girls to school." Her education was continually interrupted but eventually she made it to university and is training to become a journalist.

Balochistan has just under 900,000 children attending more than 13,000 primary, middle and high schools. But over one million children are still out of school.

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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