September 06, 2019

Five things you need to know this week about global education

Education Cannot Wait has already supported children and youth in 29 countries

Photo credit: ECW

Our roundup includes 1.4 million children helped by the global education emergencies fund - and schools wrecked by Hurricane Dorian and bombing in Syria.

1.4m children in crisis countries helped by Education Cannot Wait

More than 1.4 million children and youth caught up in conflicts, natural disasters and forced displacement were helped by Education Cannot Wait in its first two years of operation.

The global fund for education in emergencies is getting faster at delivering schooling in new or escalating crises, according to its annual report.

Of the young people reached, almost 50% are girls, 46% are refugees and internally displaced persons, and 14,000 are children with disabilities. Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and its partners also:

  • Built or rehabilitated 2,798 classrooms
  • Distributed learning materials to 726,610 children
  • Trained 20,047 teachers – 44% of them female
  • Supported 78,425 children through early childhood education – more than half of them girls

“Nearly one and a half million children and youth furthest left behind in conflicts, forced displacement and disasters have been given the hope, opportunity and safety of a quality education,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), as she launched the report at the United Nations in Geneva. 

"These girls and boys are now benefitting from quality, inclusive education, helping them to cope with the trauma and stress of crises and to regain the chance to develop their potentials and arise out of their suffering."

Theirworld's #WriteTheWrong campaign is calling for ECW to receive the $1.8 billion of funding it needs by by 2021 to reach nine million children and youth living in crises and displacement in 25 priority countries. Since it was launched, the fund has mobilised $460 million to support children and youth in 29 countries.

Schools wrecked by deadly Bahamas hurricane

The full devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian on the Bahamas is only beginning to be understood - and large parts of the islands' school system may have suffered catastrophic damage.

More than 13,000 homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco were destroyed or badly damaged as the slow-moving storm sat over the Bahamas. 

Many children are feared to be among the dead. Today the death toll stood at 30 - but Health Minister Duane Sands warned of a "staggering" final count.

Eight-year-old Aerial Smith told the Weather Channel how she hid in a cupboard as the roof of her school was blown off. And hurricane chaser Josh Morgerman, who said Dorian was "the most intense cyclone" he has ever seen, tweeted: "Crept out during eye to find school mostly destroyed, cars in parking lot thrown around & mutilated."

Some schools are being used as shelters as relief aid begins to land in the Caribbean country. Authorities are warning that it could take years to rebuild the devastated areas. 

Child trafficker who promised education for boys gets life sentence

Child labour often prevents children from getting an education

Photo credit: Protest Child Labour / Facebook

Campaigners hailed new hope for child rights after a trafficker who tricked five Indian boys into menial work with the promise of better schooling was given a rare life sentence.

"This is just the beginning," Narendra Sikhwal, head of Jaipur's child welfare committee, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It is a first for Rajasthan - and possibly the country - that a man engaged in child labour has been sentenced to life and not just let off after paying a fine, as is the norm. We are hopeful that many more such verdicts will follow."

The man - identified only as Sonu - was sentenced for trafficking five boys from their homes with the promise of a better education. The boys were instead held captive and forced to work in a bangle factory.

Rajasthan has about 250,000 child workers, one of the worst state records in the country, government data shows. Child labour often prevents children from getting an education.

Idlib bombardment closes dozens of schools

A seven-year-old child stands in front of her damaged school in IdlIb, Syria

Photo credit: UNICEF

Thousands of children risk missing out on their education in Syria after a months-long regime assault in Idlib closed dozens of schools.

"Thousands of children due to start the school year in northwest Syria may not have access to education" after the latest violence, Save the Children said. It added that classes are set to start at the end of September but just over half of the region's 1,193 schools can still operate.

"As the new school year starts, the remaining functional schools can only accommodate up to 300,000 of the 650,000 school-age children," it said.

The heavy bombardment since late April has damaged or impacted 87 educational facilities. After bombardments damaged schools or forced them to close, many parents are scared to send their children to those that are still open.

"Teachers are telling us that parents are pleading with them to shut schools for fear of them being attacked," said Save the Children's Syria country director Sonia Khush.

Haitian children get school meals from local farmers

Nutrition is as important as learning how to read and write

Photo credit: WFP Haiti

Children in Haiti will be heading back to school next week - and 43,000 of them will be having hot meals prepared daily with fresh ingredients bought directly from local small-scale farmers.

It's part of a home-grown school feeding programme supported by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Co-ordinated with education ministry, it has been expanding every year - from 3,500 children in 23 schools in 2015 to 43,000 children in 193 schools today.

“It is a win-win situation,” said WFP Country Director in Haiti, Pierre Honnorat. “On one hand, children are eating healthy meals made with fresh ingredients and, on the other, farmers have a predictable outlet to sell their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity.”

The local products project is part of WFP's distribution of school meals to 275,000 children in Haiti. Primary school enrolment is roughly 85% – an improvement from earlier years but still low.

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