Five things you need to know this week about global education

News Roundup March 29 South Sudan
75,000 students in South Sudan will get a daily hot meal to help keep them in school (WFP / George Fominyen)

Child marriage, Children in conflicts, Children's welfare after natural disasters, Education in emergencies, Safe schools, Safe Schools Declaration

School meals for South Sudanese children, classrooms being rebuilt in Syrian cities and the ongoing risks from Cyclone Idai are featured in our weekly news roundup.

Daily meals and education for South Sudanese children

Tens of thousands of school children in some of South Sudan’s most food-insecure areas will benefit from a new education in emergencies programme launched this week.

European Union funding worth over $27 million will provide hot daily meals to 75,000 students, help train 1,600 teachers, equip learners with educational supplies and provide psychosocial support services for 40,000 conflict-affected children.

The partnership implemented by UNICEF and the World Food Programme runs until January 2021 and will be rolled out in 150 schools. 

Participating schools will be helped to establish gardens, where children can learn good farming practices while supplementing their school meals with fresh produce.

“The European Union believes in the right to quality and inclusive education for all. School children are the bright future of South Sudan,” said Dr Sinead Walsh, Ambassador of the EU to South Sudan.

More schools in Mali shut down after attacks

News Roundup March 29 Mali

Children are paying the highest price of the crisis in Mali as hundreds of schools close (UNICEF / Dicko)

Attacks on schools have led to a dramatic increase in the number of them shutting down in conflict-torn Mali – depriving huge numbers of children of education. 

Across the country, 857 have been shut by insecurity and violence – 523 of them in Mopti region. The number of schools closed in Mopti has more than doubled in the past two years, affecting over 150,000 children, according to UNICEF.

The UN agency condemned an attack on a village in Mopti, where children made up about a third of the more than 150 people killed and over 70 injured. 

“This tragic killing and maiming of defenceless children is on an unprecedented scale, said UNICEF spokesperson  Christophe Boulierac. “Children’s rights to protection from all forms of violence is a moral and legal obligation and should be upheld in all circumstances.”

Schools should be safe places where children can learn free from conflict, violence and fear. But Theirworld’s recent report Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis said that between 2013 and 2017 there were more than 12,700 attacks on schools, harming more than 21,000 students and educators in at least 70 countries.

... but nuns are reopening schools in Syria

News Roundup March 29 Salesian Missions

Vulnerable children in war-torn Syrian cities are receiving support from Salesian Missions (Salesian Missions)

Salesian nuns working in the war-torn Syrian cities of Aleppo and Damascus are starting construction projects to reopen schools and centres for children.

Since the Syrian conflict began, Salesian Missions has continued to run three centres in Kafroun, Aleppo and Damascus. They provide educational classes, meeting spaces, and social development and sporting activities for young people and their families. 

They also offer trauma counselling, emergency shelter, nutritious meals and medical referrals.

Sister Vilma Tallone said: “After this huge tragedy, we must rebuild and this is why we are raising funds to support the three structures already functioning in the country and to build two new schools in Aleppo and Damascus for children and pre-teens.”

About two million children in Syria are still out of school.

Cyclone children face risk of trafficking or early marriage

News Roundup Cyclone Mozambique

Children are more at risk than ever in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai (OCHA / Saviano Abreu)

Thousands of children who survived a cyclone in southeast Africa face fresh risks in its aftermath – being sold into slavery by human traffickers or forced into early marriage by families struggling to survive, aid workers say.

Traffickers often prey on lone children caught up in chaotic scenes such as Cyclone Idai, they said, while parents might marry off their young girls as they struggle to eke out a life.

With the United Nations estimating up to a million children affected in Mozambique alone, aid workers are particularly concerned about orphaned children and those separated from their families who are fending for themselves almost two weeks on.

Rik Goverde from Save the Children said: “Children are out there on their own – without the supervision or care of a trustworthy adult. They can easily fall victim to sexual violence or human trafficking. We are aware and very concerned about it.”

Aid workers say young girls could also be forced to wed as parents who have lost homes and crops in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are pushed to the brink and seek ways to ease the burden on the rest of the family.

“Mozambique is already among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest rates of child marriage – around 48% of girls are married before 18,” said Anne Hoff, Plan International’s Country Director in Mozambique.

Blackouts in Venezuela hit education again

News Roundup Power Outage Venezuela

Power cuts across Venezuela closed schools and businesses (Gustavo Ocando Alex)

Two weeks after a blackout closed schools across crisis-torn Venezuela for several days, many were shut down again this week.

Schools and workplaces have been empty following the latest electricity failure on Monday, leaving residents scrambling to find food and water.

The Venezuelan government claimed its power system had been attacked – but electricity experts say the outages are the result of inadequate maintenance and incompetent management of the power grid.

Their News told earlier this month how the economic crisis in the country is wrecking education and hope for millions of children.

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