Five things you need to know this week about global education

News Roundup September 13 Un Headquarters
A UNICEF installation highlighting the grave scale of child deaths in conflict during 2018 on the North Lawn at the United Nations Headquarters (UNICEF / FARBER)

Children in conflicts, Children's welfare after natural disasters, Refugees and internally displaced people

School backpacks display shows horror of child deaths

The heartbreaking picture above shows the devastating scale of child deaths in conflict zones. The display – featuring 3,758 UNICEF school backpacks arranged in rows – was unveiled at the United Nations in New York.

Each blue backpack represents a child who died in a conflict area during 2018. The installation is a message to world leaders as children in many parts of the world go back to school and just days ahead of the annual UN General Assembly. 

When the display is taken down the backpacks, which contain school supplies, will be used to support children’s education.

“UNICEF backpacks have always been a symbol of hope and childhood possibility,” said the agency’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “As many children go back to school this week, we are drawing attention to the thousands of children killed in conflict zones and whose tragic loss will forever be felt in their homes, classrooms and communities around the world.”

Theirworld’s report Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis revealed that between 2013 and 2017 there were more than 12,700 attacks on schools, harming more than 21,000 students, teachers and staff in at least 70 countries.

Theirworld’s #WriteTheWrong campaign is about getting every child in the world into safe schools. That includes 75 million who currently have their education interrupted by conflicts and emergencies.

#WriteTheWrong calls for donors and world leaders to rally round and ensure Education Cannot Wait is fully financed. The world’s first fund for education in emergencies, launched in 2016, needs $1.8 billion to reach nine million children annually by 2021. 

Bahamas hurricane: action to get 10,000 displaced children in school

Bahamas School Destroyed By Hurricane Dorian

Moves are underway to ensure 10,000 students displaced by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas return as soon as possible to safe schools that have not been damaged.

The families of all displaced children aged four to 19 are being encouraged to register them with authorities. The government will offer free buses, medical and counselling support, and help with uniforms and meals.

“No child in The Bahamas should be at risk of dropping out of school because of Dorian,” said education minister Jeffrey Lloyd. “After the devastating impact left by Hurricane Dorian, education is our best investment and a cornerstone of the whole reconstruction process. Dorian may have put us on our knees but education will bring us back on our feet.”

UNICEF will work with the government to upgrade the skills of school counsellors, teachers and social workers to deliver psychosocial support and recreational activities to displaced students and other children.

After natural disasters, it is crucial for children to return to safe schools as quickly as possible, where they can begin to recover from the trauma they have experience.

Getting child labourers back into school

Child labourers are going back to school thanks to a campaign to persuade poor rural families in India that education should come first.

Teacher Rani Bhati works with a programme run by the charity Goodweave, which was founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner and education campaigner Kailash Satyarthi.

She goes door to door in her village near Delhi to talk to families whose children work on farms or embroidering textiles. 

Rani, whose story is featured in a BBC video report (play the film above), said: “Every child has a right to education.”

Children held as 'Boko Haram suspects' by Nigerian military

Thousands of children – some as young as five – have been detained in appalling conditions by Nigeria’s military who regard them as Boko Haram suspects, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

Most said they were arrested after fleeing Boko Haram attacks on their villages. They described beatings, overwhelming heat, frequent hunger and being packed tightly in their cells with hundreds of other detainees. 

The majority were transferred to the Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri, where no formal education or activities were provided.

“Children are being detained in horrific conditions for years, with little or no evidence of involvement with Boko Haram and without even being taken to court,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

The UN said that between January 2013 and March 2019 Nigerian armed forces detained over 3,600 children – including 1,617 girls – for suspected involvement with non-state armed groups. Hundreds of schools in northeast Nigeria have been destroyed in Boko Haram’s campaign of violence.

UN agencies urge European action on refugee education

News Roundup September 13 Refugee Education

Migrant and refugee children have a fundamental right to basic education (UNHCR)

Three UN agencies have called on European countries to take actions to ensure all refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children can access and stay in school.

Nearly twice as many children and adolescents born outside Europe – including recently arrived refugee and migrant children – leave school early compared to native-born children.

Insufficient budgets, language barriers and not enough school spaces or teachers trained to work with refugee and migrant children are among the obstacles listed in a briefing by the refugee agency UNHCR, UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Children of pre-primary age (three to five) and upper secondary age (15 and older) are particularly vulnerable to being out of school.

“Eliminating gaps in refugee and migrant children’s education is critical to their development and well-being and this can have a positive knock-on effect for society in general,” said Manfred Profazi, IOM Senior Regional Adviser for Europe and Central Asia.

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