COUNTERING SCHOOL CLOSURES WITH RADIO EDUCATION IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Children in Madomale listen to the JRS radio programme. Christian Marago, accompanies them. All Photos JRS CAR.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, Jesuit Refugee Service is expanding remote learning opportunities for children impacted by the COVID-19 crisis

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Jesuit Refugee Service (Original Story)

While all the educational facilities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have closed their doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, students and teachers have found a new source for learning: the airwaves.

To keep children from falling further behind in the pandemic, the Jesuit Refugee Service is producing a weekday radio education program known as L’École à la Radio (The School on the Radio). Children have been tuning into the broadcast since June every day from 4:30 to 5pm to hear radio lessons broadcast by the Lego ti la Ouaka community radio in Bambari, where JRS is supporting internally displaced persons and local communities with funding from the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The project is reaching preschool and primary students who have not been able to go back to class since March 2020. Before the pandemic, access to quality education was already a challenge for many children affected by conflict, recruitment by armed groups or forced displacement in CAR. Unable to access the safety, hope and protection of a quality learning environment, their education and future are at risk.

To address the unique social and emotional challenges these children face, L’École à la Radio offers important learning and psychosocial supports for children who have been displaced by war and violence. Over 2980 people (children and parents) now listen to the radio broadcast, which is heard within a radius of at least 50 km around Bambari.

Radio lessons are recorded with the participation of 10 children (5 girls and 5 boys) in the classroom, respecting the adequate prevention measures against COVID-19. This hybrid approach empowers children and presents an innovative way to extend in-class lessons to students staying home.

Listening in on the radio lessons. Photo JRS CAR.

“Since I discovered L’École à la Radio, I always lend my radio to my children and other kids in the village from 4:30 to 5 pm, so that they can learn with the radio classes,” says Christian Marago.

Christian is a father of a four and an eight year old, and lives in Madomale village, located 37 km away from Bambari.

L’École à la Radio addresses them directly, especially since children of their ages are the ones talking and doing the show,” he adds.

After contacting Lego ti la Ouaka radio and expressing his enthusiasm for the program, Christian was invited to become one of the sixteen JRS Radio Listening Focal Points who operate within the communities. They accompany the children during the radio emission and help JRS monitoring the development and impact of the program.

For Christian, the program really helps the students to continue learning, at the same time helping parents with the knowledge and tools they need to supervise their children’s learning progress.

“The language [used in the program] is suitable for children and the subjects are adapted to the context of the coronavirus pandemic,” says Christian. “At the same time, they learn about family, good manners, nature and animals… Also, about the existence of the coronavirus and how to protect themselves and the whole community.”

“From my side, I think that L’École à la Radio is one of the best programs broadcast by Lego ti la Ouaka radio in these times,” Christian says.

Video

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

BUILDING EDUCATION STARS IN UGANDA

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, UNHCR is helping refugee children get back to the safety and protection of learning through the Government of Uganda’s Education Response Plan

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, UNHCR is helping refugee children get back to the safety and protection of learning through the Government of Uganda’s Education Response Plan

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Tukundane Yonna and Gerald Musoke, UNHCR

In Adjumani district in northern Uganda – home to more than 214,000 refugees – David Malou Nyankot, a refugee from South Sudan, is the best student in his class. David came to Uganda alone in June 2016 following clashes between warring forces in his home village in Jonglei State.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, Uganda’s Education Response Plan (ERP) is providing hundreds of thousands of refugee children like David with the safety, protection, hope and opportunity of education.

The primary gross enrolment ratio for refugee children has improved by 22 per cent in Uganda – from 53 per cent in 2017 to 75 per cent in 2019 (reaching 71.4 per cent for girls) – according to ECW’s upcoming 2019 Annual Report.

In 2019, David scored an aggregate 4 on his Primary Leaving Examinations, the highest mark you can achieve.

Hope arises

“I had totally lost any hopes of ever joining school again,” says David.

Although David fled alone, he was later united with his uncle who had arrived in Adjumani two years earlier. When David started back in school at Ayilo 1A Primary School the following year, he had to repeat Primary 5.

“My uncle had enough problems at home; he could hardly buy me even a book. I remember walking to school barefooted for a full year,” David says.

The Education Response Plan was launched in September 2018 with financial support from ECW and other partners. It seeks to find a long-term solution for the half-a-million refugee children that are out of school in Uganda. In delivering on the plan’s overall targets, UNHCR and its partner Windle Trust provided exercise books, pens, and other scholastic materials to David and other refugee students like him.

“The teachers in my new school were great. We were over 250 students in my class, but I insisted on using this opportunity to study hard,” David says.

With this expanded support, David is now one of the three top refugee pupils that sat for same exams in 2019.

Top of the class

Mayen Abraham Bol and Deng Awan Deng, both age 15, scored a remarkable aggregate 5 and 6 all in division one.

Abraham fled South Sudan in August 2016 with his younger sister after a violent conflict in his village. They later joined his maternal aunt who had already arrived in Adjumani’s Nyumanzi refugee settlement a year earlier.

“I had completely lost hope. I had no mother, no father, no brother, not any one of my close relatives when I fled,” says Deng.

Awan Deng arrived in Uganda in November 2014 following the brutal conflict in South Sudan.

“When the fighting begun, I was at school. I did not have any opportunity to go back home. I followed the direction in which most of the people were running,” Deng says.

On arrival at Nyumanzi refugee settlement in Adjumani, Deng was placed under foster care, but was later reunited with his aunt who came in a separate convoy.

When he joined school at Nyumanzi II Primary School in 2015, Deng was made to repeat Primary 3 despite having almost completed it back home in South Sudan. He studied here up to Primary 5 before joining Mummy’s Care School in Adjumani Town.

While David, Abraham and Deng were in their Primary 5, Uganda launched the Education Response Plan, paving the way for UNHCR and partners to provide essential learning materials, build new classrooms and repair existing ones to make schools safer and more accessible.

Continuing their learning

Supported by the new education plan, at the end of their Primary 6 district promotional examinations, David and Deng were the best students in the entire district. This earned them an all-expenses-paid scholarship in Mummy’s Care Primary School, a top boarding school in Adjumani Town from where they excelled in their final examinations.

Over 45,000 refugee and host community children in Adjumani go to the 32 primary schools in the refugee settlements of the district. Twelve of these schools are government aided while the rest were established by the communities. Under the ERP, all these schools receive support from UNHCR and partners.

Speaking at a recognition ceremony for best performers, Robert Dima, Adjumani District Education Officer said, “It is our responsibility to support refugee children to achieve their full potential in life. They are simply our brothers from across the border.”

General performance of schools in refugee hosting districts had improved with the implementation of the ERP. Temporary classroom structures have been replaced with permanent buildings and the number of teachers has increased.

With COVID-19 pandemic, schools are currently closed indefinitely. For many refugees like David, Abraham and Deng, who had been admitted at St. Mary’s College School in central Uganda on a partial scholarship, this is a big blow to their dreams. But they are waiting patiently for their return to school and for a future filled with new opportunities.

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT INVESTMENTS REACH REFUGEE AND OTHER VULNERABLE CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC

With US$24.5 million in currently committed funds – and more on its way – ECW-financed COVID-19 education in emergency responses are now deployed across 27 countries and emergency contexts. For children and youth in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and Uganda, these life-saving responses are allowing girls and boys to continue their education through distance learning, protecting lives with enhanced water and sanitation services, and slowing the spread of the virus through community awareness campaigns.

Priscille with her family. Photo © Save the Children

ECW-SUPPORTED RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN UGANDA WITH SAVE THE CHILDREN

With support from Education Cannot Wait, Save the Children Uganda is distributing home learning kits and extending educational opportunities through innovative radio programmes to provide refugee girls and boys – and host community children and youth – ongoing remote learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools are still closed in Uganda – possibly for the remainder of the year. For these vulnerable refugee children and youth, life-saving education and health awareness materials are essential in keeping children safe, extending learning and slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Still, half of the primary school refugee children in Uganda have yet to receive home learning materials, highlighting the need to expand the global education in emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Imagine… I am in P7 (the seventh and final grade of primary school). As a girl, I am very proud to have reached this class. This virus should stop so that I can sit the Primary Leaving Examination since many girls cannot make it. This makes me happy and keen to complete my studies!” – Priscille, 15, refugee girl Rwamwanja refugee settlement in Western Uganda. Full Story

Grace is finding new hope through the ECW-financed response. Photo © UNICEF

ECW-SUPPORTED RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN BURKINA FASO WITH UNICEF

In Burkina Faso, ECW funding is keeping girls and boys safe within the fast-evolving ‘crisis within a crisis’ affecting refugees, especially girls in the Sahel. For girls like Grace, the support provided by ECW partner UNICEF, in coordination with the Government of Burkina Faso, is making a difference. This includes the training and deployment of 15,000 volunteers who provide COVID-19 hygiene and prevention sensitization amongst refugee populations and host communities.

“At school we have to wear the mask, stay at least 1 meter apart, wash hands with water and soap and raise awareness of friends who don’t know how to fight this pandemic.” – Grace, Peniel High School in Tanghin.

Learn more in this BBC French report.

Photo © UNHCR

ECW-SUPPORTED RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN MALI WITH UNHCR

“UNHCR Mali has now received money from Education Cannot Wait for distance learning, targeting 10,000 refugee and displaced children in Mali. With the money we aim to provide solar radios to refugee children, children who are internally displaced, and those from the host communities. These radios will ensure these refugee, displaced and host community children’s right to education, even in low-tech resource areas of Mali. The Ministry of Education together with teachers are now recording lessons for all levels so that they are ready to be aired on the radios.”- Leandro Salazar, Education Expert, UNHCR Mali.

Preventing the spread of the virus through education in Chad. Photo © JRS.

ECW-SUPPORTED RESPONSE TO COVID-19 IN CHAD AND THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC WITH JRS

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown and confinement measures have brought new challenges for educational facilities in both Chad and the Central African Republic. In addition to being central to learning, schools are crucial for raising community awareness to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

With the support of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) adapted its activities in the Central African Republic (CAR) and in Eastern Chad to ensure continued education, health and hygiene awareness raising and protection for refugee children and youth – already impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises – and now doubly hit by COVID-19.

In Chad, ECW partner JRS is supporting improved water and sanitation services and training education professionals on COVID-19 prevention measures to help them raise awareness within the communities. In Central African Republic, radio programmes are providing psychosocial support and ongoing lessons, with a special focus on refugee girls’ rights to access quality education.

¨We started some initiatives to be in contact with the students. This includes awareness raising activities with their parents and students on COVID-19 prevention measures through WhatsApp groups and home visits.¨ Tadjadine Abdallah Mansour, a secondary teacher at Kounoungou Refugee Camp, Chad.

“For the moment, and until the end of the pandemic, we will continue teaching our students within their areas through home-based learning.¨

RESPONDING TO COVID-19 IN UGANDA

Girls like Priscille are continuing their education during the COVID-19 lockdown. Photo © Save the Children

With support from Education Cannot Wait, Save the Children is distributing home learning kits and extending educational opportunities through innovative radio programmes to provide refugee girls and boys – and host community children and youth – ongoing remote learning opportunities.

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Save the Children. View Original.

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates in many parts of the world, Education Cannot Wait investments implemented by Save the Children in Uganda are working to reach refugee girls and boys with innovative remote learning programs. Schools are still closed in Uganda – possibly for the remainder of the year. For these vulnerable children and youth, life-saving education and health awareness materials are essential in keeping children safe, extending learning and slowing the spread of the coronavirus.  Over half of the primary school refugee children in Uganda have yet to receive home learning materials, highlighting the need to expand the global education in emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  For girls and boys like Priscille, Ronald and Kato,* education and continued learning are provide hope, safety and opportunity in these tough and troubling times.

Priscille is keeping up on her schoolwork with the distance learning packs. Photo © Save the Children

Meet Priscille

Getting back to school is 15-year-old Priscille’s biggest wish.

She is in her final year of primary school, at an age when many girls in her community often drop out. In late March all schools in the Rwamwanja refugee settlement in Western Uganda, closed as part of prevention measures against Covid-19.

“Imagine… I am in P7 (the seventh and final grade of primary school). As a girl, I am very proud to have reached this class,” says Priscille. “This virus should stop so that I can sit the Primary Leaving Examination since many girls cannot make it. This makes me happy and keen to complete my studies!”

Through Education Cannot Wait’s education in emergency COVID-19 response, Priscille received a new home learning kit from Save the Children. The study books will help her keep learning while she’s at home and the schools are closed.

Priscille and her family fled to Uganda to escape the war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. She now lives with her parents and four sisters in the vast refugee settlement.

The family doesn’t have a radio, but she’s heard about the Covid-19 outbreak from listening to her neighbour’s radio and from the community awareness sessions being held in the settlement.

When she heard about the importance of washing hands, she installed a handwashing facility at the family home.

As part of the ECW-funded response, Save the Children will be providing some of the most vulnerable families in the refugee settlement with radios, so that they can listen to information and education programmes – and stay entertained while stuck at home.

“I will listen to music over the radio to make me happy,” says Priscille. “I will also look for stations that are conducting lessons, as reading alone is very hard.”

At home Priscille reads as much as she can while keeping up with the daily chores like cooking, fetching water and washing clothes.

Ronald and his brothers with their new learning materials. Photo © Save the Children

Meet Ronald

Every day Ronald and his three brothers all gather round the family radio and listen for the latest news about the Covid-19 outbreak.

He knows from the radio that the virus can be deadly and how it can spread in the community. “The virus spreads through handshaking, sneezing and coughing in public. Our people do not fully follow the President’s directive on social distancing,” he says.

At 13 years old, Ronald is in his last year of primary school. He’s Ugandan and his community in western Uganda has received a lot of refugees over the past few years.

At home Ronald encourages his family and friends to keep distance as much as possible. “Children should maintain social distance everywhere and wash their hands with soap every time!”

He’s looking forward to sitting his Primary Leaving Examination this year, but the schools were closed in late March as part of the Covid-19 prevention measures, and he has been at home ever since.

Ronald reads as much as he can at home, “but it is challenging without guidance.”

“The children should be given books and supported to learn from home,” says Ronald’s father.

Working closely with the local government, Save the Children provided Ronald with learning packs that included study books with exercises designed for each grade of primary school. Together with the radio programmes, these distance learning materials are helping keep Ronald and other children like him from falling too far behind during the lockdown.

Ronald’s mother and father are at home due to the lockdown, along with their eldest son who is normally away at secondary school, and the father says they will support Ronald and the younger ones to study the materials.

Brenda helps Kato continue his lessons. Photo © Save the Children

Meet Brenda and Kato

Brenda is a teacher in Rwamwanja refugee settlement, where more than 70,000 refugees now live.

With schools closed due to Covid-19, Brenda is determined to ensure that children keep learning at home during the lockdown. With support from Education Cannot Wait, Brenda and other teachers are distributing these home learning packs and child-friendly information about the virus and how to stay safe.

Every day she walks miles around the vast settlement, visiting some of her most vulnerable pupils at home to answer their questions and give one-on-one support, which is allowed under government guidelines.

Kato, 15,  is in his fifth year of primary school and one of the children to have received a home learning pack. Just before school closed he borrowed a science textbook and has also been using that to read.

Brenda frequently visits him to check in on how his studying is going.

“I’ve found it easy to do the tasks provided in my learning pack because my teacher has guided me on how to use the textbook to answer the questions in the pack,” says Kato.

Kato looks forward to the day when schools will reopen. “Learning at school is better than at home as sometimes we are disrupted by housework!”

ECW funding also supports teachers in sharing broadcast lessons on Nyumbani FM – the only radio station in the settlement.

Kato says his father owns a radio and lets him listen to the daily sessions. These have also helped him learn about the virus. “I first heard of the measures to prevent Corona through the radio, and from my parents and community leaders,” he says. “So I make sure I collect enough water to wash my hands.”

Links

Learn more about Save the Children’s ECW-supported investments in Uganda.

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

*The names of the children featured in this story have been changed for their safety and protection.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT: HELPING CHILDREN AND YOUTH DESPERATE TO LEARN IN ‘A CRISIS UPON EXISTING CRISES’

View Original on Global Heroes

Around the world, 75 million vulnerable, school-aged children and youth are already missing out on their education because they are caught in armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural and climate-change-induced disasters, and other protracted crises. These girls and boys are now doubly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘A Crisis Upon Existing Crises’. What we consider to be essential is not always attainable – many of these children are in desperate need of educational assistance.

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) – the global fund for education in emergencies, established in 2016 by international humanitarian and development aid actors – is working to change that. ECW strives to make education a top priority on humanitarian and development agendas and to ensure that education is accessible to all crisis-affected children and youth. In times of emergency, the importance of education is often spoken of, yet, the funding rarely reflects the urgency or the necessity.

Education Cannot Wait is revamping the way education is delivered in times of emergency and is working to ensure more funding is directed to education in emergencies; already it has mobilized well over half a billion dollars to do so in just three years, with a target of mobilizing US$1.8 billion by 2021.

“The list of threats continues to grow, with COVID-19 now taking up a sizeable spot. Girls and boys enduring armed conflicts, disasters, forced displacement, and other crises are now at extreme risk with the additional hardship of the global pandemic. There is no end in sight to how much these young souls have to suffer, and they must be our absolute top priority,” says Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait Director.

“With an additional $50 million, Education Cannot Wait and our partners can continue to scale-up life-saving and life-sustaining education services which not only provide hope and opportunity but also help to protect the health and wellbeing of these young people at a time when they need it the most. Through Education Cannot Wait’s COVID-19 response, these children and youth have a greater chance of continuing their education through remote learning, access support for their mental health in a difficult time like this, and be given a chance to protect their health,” explains Sherif.

ECW brings governments, humanitarian actors and development efforts together to create a faster and more collaborative response to educating girls and boys impacted by crises. Most importantly, with its UN and NGO partners around the world, this innovative global fund strives to provide these children and youth with quality education that is safe, free, inclusive and accessible – and the ECW team is working around the clock to make this a reality for every single girl and boy by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG4 on quality education!

In times of crisis, governments and aid organizations often strive to provide affected populations with urgent basic necessities, like food, water, and shelter. Education is usually a lower, add-on priority on the list, with only 2 to 4 percent of humanitarian funding allocated to ensuring education remains accessible.

Less often considered is that children who are forced out of school by emergencies – particularly girls, but boys as well – are more exposed to risks of violence, exploitation, child labor, trafficking, child marriage, and recruitment by armed groups. Without a stable education, they lose their chance, and indeed their human right, to fulfill their potential and they often find these risks make it difficult to ever return to school when it reopens. Education is not only important for all children and youth to guide them to a better future but is also crucial for families struggling to keep their children safe and for societies to build a peaceful life.

During the recent ‘One World: Together at Home’ global broadcast special, which featured artists like Lady Gaga, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and Celine Dion, the CEO of the LEGO Foundation, John Goodwin, announced their new US$15 million funding contribution towards Education Cannot Wait’s COVID-19 emergency response.

“Research shows that while learning through play is vital for children’s psychological, emotional and cognitive health and development, it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures, which is needed now more than ever given the crisis we’re currently up against,” Goodwin said in his announcement.

The LEGO Foundation contribution was preceded a few days earlier by a US$6.26 million contribution to ECW from DFID-UK. These two recent contributions bring Education Cannot Wait US$21.26 million closer to its urgent US$50 million appeal to public and private sector donors to replenish its emergency funds reserve to immediately deploy essential education services for crisis-affected children and youth facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, just as education cannot wait, neither can emergency funding for ECW, so it can help crisis-affected children and youth desperate to learn in some of the world’s toughest war zones and emergency contexts. To learn more, please follow @EduCannotWait on Twitter and visit their website at: educationcannotwait.org

OVERCOMING LIFE’S HARDSHIPS IN SYRIA

Hamzeh, 15, Douma, East Ghouta. All photos © UNICEF/Syria/2020/Malas

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, UNICEF’s Curriculum B and inclusive school rehabilitation are supporting children with disabilities in accessing quality educational opportunities

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Sandra Awad and Tarek Jacob, UNICEF. View Original.

“I feel very lonely at times,” stuttered Hamzeh, 15, who lost his three brothers as well as other family members and friends, to the conflict in Syria. “I miss the days when the whole family gathered in the yard of our old house.”

Despite losing their home, the family never left their city, remaining in the Syrian town of Douma in East Ghouta, even throughout five harsh years of siege between 2013 and 2018.

Born with paralysis in his lower body and poor verbal articulation capabilities, Hamzeh’s ability to talk further deteriorated during the besiegement in East Ghouta, particularly after he witnessed the death of his siblings.

Back in 2013, a shell hit the family’s home causing the death of his brothers and forcing Hamzeh and his parents out of the house. They took shelter in a small room on land his father owned in Douma. Because of ongoing violence, Hamzeh had to also drop out of school in the second grade.

For years, his determination to resume learning kept Hamzeh hopeful.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy; but being in school would give meaning to my life,” he said.

In 2018, as violence subsided in East Ghouta, he went back to school and has been catching up on his education with the help of UNICEF’s Curriculum B programme. This accelerated learning programme combines two academic years in one and allows children who missed out on periods of learning to catch up with their peers in half the required time.

“I pushed my son to continue his studies after his father’s death, and I do the same with Hamzeh and my other students. I believe that education is a solution for the hardships we have been through,” said Inaam, Hamzeh’s teacher.

First grade students attending an Arabic class in January 2020 in a school rehabilitated by UNICEF.

“Two years ago, the school building was severely damaged. Stone and metal parts could fall at any moment. Students and staff could get hurt,” said Inaam. “Hamzeh’s mother was worried about his accessibility and movement inside the building, but eventually his insistence convinced his parent to send him to school.”

“I was delighted to see the spacious bathroom and try the special pathway to class, constructed for children in wheelchairs like me,” said Hamzeh about UNICEF’s school rehabilitation works that were concluded in his school at the beginning of 2020. “Classes looked grim before, but now they’re colourful and much more pleasant.”

The rehabilitation works included painting classrooms, corridors and entrances, replacing and repairing damaged doors, windows and ceilings, as well as improving playgrounds and installing playground equipment, while ensuring an inclusive environment to support accessibility for children with physical disabilities. This rehabilitation also provided access to safe drinking water and inclusive sanitation and hygiene facilities by doing needed repairs and construction of the facilities.

In rural Damascus, with thanks to generous contributions from Japan, Educate A Child, the Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF), Education Cannot Wait, Norway and France, since 2019, UNICEF has been able to reach 36,000 children through its school rehabilitation. Approximately 2,000 children have been reached with the Curriculum B programme thanks to support from Educate A Child.

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.


The rehabilitation provided access to safe drinking water and inclusive sanitation and hygiene facilities by doing needed repairs and construction of the facilities, much needed support for when children return to school from the COVID-19 pandemic.

RESTORING EDUCATION, RESTORING HOPE

1 million girls and boys are out of school in Ethiopia. New efforts funded by Education Cannot Wait are working to get these children and youth back in safe, protective learning environments.

Photo © ECW/UNICEF/2020/Nahom Tesfaye

1 million girls and boys are out of school in Ethiopia. New efforts funded by Education Cannot Wait are working to get these children and youth back in safe, protective learning environments.

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Demissew Bizuwerk, UNICEF. View Original.

25 February 2020, Ethiopia – “I feel sad to see my school damaged like this,” says 12-year-old Kuresha Yusuf. “We had proper classrooms and desks. But now we are attending class here [under the tree].”

Kuresha Yusuf attends class under a tree after her school was damaged by conflict. Kuresha’s favorite subject is math and she wants to be a math teacher. Photo © ECW/UNICEF/2020/Nahom Tesfaye

Kuresha’s school, Hagajin Libah, in Tuliguled woreda (district) Somali region of Ethiopia, was attacked when inter-communal conflict erupted in the adjacent woredas of Oromia and Somali regions two years ago. All of the six classrooms were badly damaged.

Hagajin Libah primary school in Tuliguled woreda is badly damaged after inter-communal conflict erupted in the adjacent woredas of Oromia and Somali regions two years ago. Currently, out of the 450 students, only 150 of them attend class sitting under trees. Photo © ECW/UNICEF/2020/Nahom Tesfaye

“We did a back-to-school campaign in September,” says Dheg Abadir Muhamed, the director of the school. “But when the students came, we had no alternative but to teach them under the trees.”

Hagajin Libah, which had 420 students before the conflict, now only has 150 students sitting on stone stools and facing a blackboard mounted to a cactus tree.

Similarly, in Chinaksen woreda, Oromia region, the old structure of Chachale Primary School’s six-classroom block is reduced to ruins. Luckily, the newly built two-classroom block survived the attack after the military intervened in the area. 

Since September last year, efforts were made by the local administration, community members and the education bureau to bring students back to school. Yet, with only two classrooms, four teachers and limited supplies, they are only able to enroll students from grades 1- 4. Students in grades 5-8, like 14-year-old Rawda Mohammed, have no place and they stay at home to support their families.

Rawda Mohammed stands in front of her damaged school in Chinaksen woreda, Oromia region. Rawda was in grade 4 but now out-of-school because her school is badly damaged by conflict. The school now only offers class to students in grades 1-4. Photo © ECW/UNICEF/2020/Nahom Tesfaye

“Some of my friends are married because they are not able to continue their education,” says Rawda. “I still hope to continue my education when our classrooms are reconstructed.”   

The immediate need to restore education in Chachale and Hagajin Libah goes beyond the physical work of reconstruction.

Although calm has been restored in many conflict-affected areas, children who have been through violence are experiencing stress and struggling with learning. Their teachers, therefore, need psychosocial training to understand how to deal with the psychological and social impact of conflict in children.  

Ethiopia has an estimated 1.4 million displaced, returnee, and refugee children, mostly resulting from conflicts and natural disasters. One million of these children are out of school; without education opportunities which is their best hope for a better future[1].   

Besides, a lack of trained teachers, unsuitable educational facilities, insufficient school-feeding and inadequate clean water in schools make the learning process challenging.

Though significant resources are needed to rebuild the education system in crisis-affected parts of Ethiopia, funding for education in emergencies is low compared with other sectors. For instance, the education component of the 2019 humanitarian response plan which required a total of US$45 million was only 12 per cent funded.  

The good news is a three-year US$165 million Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP) recently launched by Education Cannot Wait (ECW), a global fund for education in emergencies, fills the gap. The programme is set to support the education of 746,000 children affected by crises in Ethiopia. So far, US$27 million has been secured while efforts are underway to mobilize the remaining gap. Key interventions of the MYRP include the reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged schools, provision of teaching and learning materials, and school feeding and capacity building of teachers and local education authorities. Psychosocial support to teachers and students is also included. 

The Ministry of Education is leading the programme in coordination with the Regional Education Bureaus in the worst affected woredas such as Chinaksen and Tuliguled. UNICEF and Save the Children are grantees to the programme, with the role of identifying partners who deliver the programme results on the ground.

While Kuresha’s dream is to become a teacher, Rawda, on the other hand, wants to be a nurse. For crisis-affected children like them, education provides the strength and tools they need to build a brighter future for themselves and their community. Restoring their education is restoring their hopes.  

Kuresha Yusuf(left) with her classmate. Photo © ECW/UNICEF/2020/Nahom Tesfaye

[1]IDPs and Returnees: IOM, 2019, Displacement Tracking Matrix, October and IOM, Village Assessment Survey, October 2019
Refugees: MOE, 2019, Annual Statistical Abstract.

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

MORE THAN 24 MILLION CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CONFLICT NEED MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT

Millions of children living in war zones or forced to flee as refugees will require support to address mental health concerns, according to a new briefing paper released by Save the Children today, ahead of critical meetings at next week’s United Nations General Assembly. 

Photo UNICEF Ukraine.

7.1 million children at serious risk of developing severe mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or PTSD

Stories from the Field

Originally published on Save the Children Australia

11 September 2019 – Millions of children living in war zones or forced to flee as refugees will require support to address mental health concerns, according to a new briefing paper released by Save the Children today, ahead of critical meetings at next week’s United Nations General Assembly. 

Road to recovery: responding to children’s mental health in conflict’ reveals that of the 142 million children living in conflict zones, more than seven million are at serious risk of developing severe mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression or anxiety, and severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

At least 24 million children – four times the child population of Australia – require some form of mental health support, either now or in the future.

“We know that mental health is a really big issue facing many Australians. But imagine being a child who’s seen family members killed in front of their eyes or fled to a refugee camp with no idea what the future holds or who is living in a war zone where it’s too dangerous to go to school because of the risk of shelling,” Save the Children’s Humanitarian Director Archie Law said.

“Tens of millions of children are in this position, having had their lives turned upside down because of war and conflict. They are suffering a range of mental health problems, yet rarely are the services needed to treat and support these children available because it simply isn’t being adequately funded.”

Save the Children’s analysis found that just 0.14 percent of all official development assistance between 2015-2017 went to programs related to child mental health support. 

At the same time the number of children living in conflict zones has increased by 37 percent since 2010, while the number of verified grave violations against them – including killing and maiming, recruitment into armed forces and sexual violence – has increased by 174 percent.

“The scale of the mental health crisis for children in conflict is enormous, yet we don’t have the funding to match the need,” said Mr Law, who has a long history working in conflict and post-conflict settings including Iraq, Cambodia and several parts of Africa.

“That’s why we’re calling on countries meeting at the UN General Assembly this coming week, including Australia, to commit to increase funding to help the recovery of children affected by conflict.”

Specifically, Save the Children is urging donors like Australia to support the replenishment of the US$1.8bn Education Cannot Wait fund – providing nine million conflict affected children with the opportunity to learn and recover – and commit dedicated funding to integrate mental health and psychosocial support services within education in humanitarian settings.

Among those children requiring mental health support is 12-year-old Fatima*, who was in her home in Hajjah, Yemen, when an airstrike killed both of her parents and five siblings. Fatima’s leg was badly injured, and she needed operations to remove the shrapnel.

“I was unconscious and buried in the sand and rescue people were only able to help me and my sister. They took us to the hospital and that’s it. My leg was injured very badly to the extent that it was with no flesh. They (seven members of my family) were buried in the village,” Fatima said.

Fatima* now lives with her sister and aunt, Arwa*, who worries about her nieces’ mental state. Arwa* told Save the Children:

“Both girls wake up at night talking to us unconsciously. They are so sensitive. At night, they become angry and start crying.”

Through Save the Children’s global Stop the War on Children campaign, the organisation is campaigning to keep schools safe, stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, seek accountability for crimes against children and pursue new ways to support their recovery from the horrors of conflict. To find out more go to www.stopthewaronchildren.org.au

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For media inquiries contact Evan Schuurman on 0406 117 937 or Licardo Prince on 0401 777 917.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Notes to Editor: 

In 2019, the World Health Organization estimated that 17% of adults living in conflict zones have mild to moderate mental health disorders, which would require non-specialised mental health support. Assuming that similar rates apply to children and adolescents, it is estimated that approximately 24 million children living in conflict today have mild to moderate mental health disorders needing an appropriate level of support. Of these, 5% (7.1 million) were estimated to be at risk of developing severe mental health disorders.

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

UGANDA: EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT MAKES AN IMPACT ON GIRLS’ EDUCATION

Rosemary fled South Sudan two years ago when she was 19 because of the conflict engulfing her home country. She left most of her family behind to find safety and security in neighboring Uganda. Today, she is a student at the Itula Secondary School in Moyo, northern Uganda, on the border with South Sudan. When I met her earlier this year, she told me “Education will provide me with a brighter future.”

Photo © JRS

Stories From The Field

By Giulia McPherson, Director of Advocacy & Operations at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

Rosemary fled South Sudan two years ago when she was 19 because of the conflict engulfing her home country. She left most of her family behind to find safety and security in neighboring Uganda. Today, she is a student at the Itula Secondary School in Moyo, northern Uganda, on the border with South Sudan. When I met her earlier this year, she told me “Education will provide me with a brighter future.”

According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, refugee girls are only half as likely to be enrolled in secondary school as boys. While Rosemary defies these odds, she is still facing a number of challenges. To support herself and her grandfather who is paralyzed, Rosemary makes pancakes and also uses the income she earns to pay for her own school fees. She also sleeps at a friend’s home during the week because the refugee settlement where she lives is too far from school.

Itula Secondary School was founded by the local community in 1996, with support from Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), in response to the educational needs of refugees who were fleeing Sudan’s civil war. The local government assumed responsibility for the school in 2005 as many refugees began to return home once the conflict subsided. In 2017, a new wave of refugees from South Sudan began to arrive and the need for Itula to serve the local refugee population became ever more critical.

Today, the school has 1,420 students – 1,179 of whom are refugees from South Sudan. Of these students, 42 percent are girls. What makes Itula special is the support it has received from the local community, dedicated teachers and administrators, and initiatives like Education Cannot Wait (ECW) that have invested in rehabilitating the school to accommodate the needs of students.

Education Cannot Wait is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. To date, ECW has reached 1.3 million children and youth in its first two years of operations and is aiming to mobilize $1.8 billion in funding for education in crisis settings by 2021 to reach approximately 9 million children annually.

In 2018, JRS implemented a grant from Education Cannot Wait to build new classrooms, dormitories for girls, accommodations for staff, gender-segregated latrines, and an incinerator for sanitary products. Some of these improvements help to address specific challenges faced by girls, which JRS outlined in a recent report – Her Future: Challenges & Recommendations to Increase Education for Refugee Girls. These challenges include long distances to reach the closest school, and related safety concerns, and a lack of sanitary materials and sanitation facilities.

Before the intervention. Photo © JRS

These improvements have had a tremendous impact on improving the quality of life for Itula’s students, teachers, and larger community. Yet, some students spoke to me about areas where they hope for continued change.

Evaline, a 17-year-old student at Itula Secondary School, told me, “We need to be able to talk, share our problems with others, this is how we will find courage.” Establishing social clubs and mentoring opportunities for girls to share, discuss, and advocate on behalf of their needs is another important way to invest in a quality education for refugee girls. Often times, refugee girls experience some level of trauma or violence due to their displacement. Promoting a safe and protective learning environment for girls is critical in ensuring their success in school.

After the intervention. Photo © JRS

Civil society organizations – including JRS – have joined forces to voice our support for Education Cannot Wait as it works towards its goal of supporting quality education for close to 9 million children annually in some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Only by bringing together international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, can we continue to address the needs of students like Rosemary and Evaline, and the millions of other young people affected by conflict and violence.

This story was originally published by Giulia McPherson at Global Campaign for Education US

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

INCLUSIVE EDUCATION

'I have a lot of friends. They help me study.' Yasmina, 10. Photo © UNICEF/Bangladesh
‘I have a lot of friends. They help me study.’ Yasmina, 10. Photo © UNICEF/Bangladesh

IN THE COMPLEX ROHINGYA CRISIS, EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT INVESTMENT SUPPORTED THROUGH UNICEF PROVIDES CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES THE HOPE, FREEDOM AND OPPORTUNITY OF AN EDUCATION

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by UNICEF Bangladesh

Yasmina is an enthusiastic 10-year-old Rohingya student. She’s different from other girls her age. Not just because she’s dealt with the horrors of fleeing her home in Myanmar and losing her father. And not just because she has an infectious smile and her eyes light up when you call her by name. Yasmina has special needs.

For girls like her, living in the Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh, accessing quality education is difficult to say the least. Even harder is finding a qualified teacher that can help her overcome her special needs and find a place to be safe and thrive.

With the support of Education Cannot Wait’s US$3 million First Emergency Response Grant to UNICEF, there is new hope for Yasmina and hundreds more children like her.

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY

Yasmina, 10, is challenged by a speech impediment and learning disabilities. With financial support from Education Cannot Wait, she is now attending classes full time at the UNCEF/Plan Learning Center in Kutupalong. Photo © UNICEF/Bangladesh
Yasmina is challenged by a speech impediment and learning disabilities. With financial support from Education Cannot Wait, she is now attending classes full time at the UNICEF/Plan Learning Center in Kutupalong. Photo © UNICEF/Bangladesh

Yasmina’s positive demeanor belies the tragedy her family dealt with in Myanmar. Her father was killed in the violence, and her family was forced to abandon their home and seek safety in Bangladesh.

Her mother, Abia Hatan, now takes care of Yasmina and her three siblings in their small shelter in the Kutupalong refugee camp.

Yasmina faces additional challenges in the classroom because she has learning difficulties, physical disabilities and a severe speech impediment. The brave young girl started back to school last year at her nearest learning centre. But she wasn’t attending regularly. In December 2018, with financial support from the Education Cannot Wait First Emergency Response, UNICEF and partners launched a major education drive through the “Back to Learning” campaign. Thousands of community mobilizers encouraged parents and caregivers to send their children to learning centres to receive an education through the new improved structured-learning programme.

The community mobilizers worked closely with parents, teachers and local leaders to encourage students who had dropped out or were not attending regularly to return to the classroom for enhanced learning opportunities.

A widescale assessment was completed for 180,000 children, who were grouped in learning centres according to the results and their competency levels. Yasmina’s mother brought her to the learning centre to undertake the assessment. Yasmina took more time than the other students but she completed the test and was placed in a new learning centre.

As part of the comprehensive education response in Bangladesh, the programme works to ensure that children with disabilities have inclusive access to learning opportunities.

This means that children like Yasmina can be included in the mainstream education programme. Extra training has been provided to teachers to ensure they can successfully integrate children with disabilities into the classroom and actively engage these students in their lessons.

To date, 181 children with disabilities have been enrolled in learning centres through the Education Cannot Wait investment. By the end of 2019, UNICEF aims to include all the children identified with disabilities into learning centres to give them the opportunities they need to flourish.

Yasmina’s mother is extremely proud of her daughter’s progress.

“I can see a big difference in Yasmina over the past few months. She was so happy to receive her first set of school books. She takes them home to study each night. She feels very excited and encouraged to learn,” says Abia, Yasmina’s mother.  “I can also see some improvements in her speech. She is growing in confidence and much more content, now that she is going to the learning centre six days a week.”

MAINSTREAMING RESULTS

Yasmina's teacher noted improvement in the girl's comprehension and social skills. Photo © UNICEF/Bangladesh
Yasmina’s teacher noted improvement in the girl’s comprehension, speaking and social skills. Photo © UNICEF/Bangladesh

Working in coordination with the Government of Bangladesh, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNHCR, the Education Cannot Wait-supported multi-year educational response in Bangladesh is mainstreaming and accelerating the impact of the First Emergency Response. Launched last November, the programme is already yielding results.

According to reports from March, UNICEF, through its implementing partner BRAC are supporting the continued operational costs for 189 learning centres, providing salaries for teachers, schools supplies and learning materials, and providing vocational skills training for youth. UNICEF has also developed a learning competencies framework and approach that will guide the delivery of the overall education response, and has trained 59 master teachers to date to improve the skills, responsiveness and quality of teaching. Through improved planning, coordination, and a harmonized approach to professional development for teachers, the programme will roll out a unified curriculum.

From Education Cannot Wait’s initial US$12 million catalytic grant, US$8.4 million is being channelled through UNICEF.  The multi-year response is also working with multiple stakeholders to fill the funding gap for the educational response, which has been calculated at US$60 million for 2019 alone.

This systems-wide approach will reach half a million children and youth, and 9800 teachers over the next three years, and bring new light and hope for children caught up in one of the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises.

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

Yasmina is making friends in her classroom, and practicing reading and writing at home with the new school materials provided through the investment. Photo © UNICEF/Bangladesh She has two friends in the classroom – Noor Amin (her brother) and Koshmin. She likes rhyming classes. Abia Hatan is her moth
Yasmina is making friends in her classroom, and practicing reading and writing at home with the new school materials provided through the investment. Photo © UNICEF/Bangladesh