SAVING GENERATION COVID

During the COVID-19 crisis, lockdowns and other social-distancing rules have forced schools worldwide to shut their doors, locking out a peak of 1.6 billion children. Unless the international community acts now, the consequences for this generation – especially its poorest members – will be severe and long-lasting.
View original on Project Syndicate

13 July 2020 –The oft-repeated idea that COVID-19 is “the great equalizer” is a myth. There is no equality of suffering or equality of sacrifice during a pandemic that is disproportionately hurting the poorest and most vulnerable.

And while the health emergency has disproportionately harmed the elderly poor, the unprecedented education crisis caused by the pandemic is now hurting the poorest children hardest and creating a generation that will lose out on learning. Lockdowns and other social-distancing rules have forced schools all over the world to shut their doors, affecting a peak of nearly 1.6 billion children. But while wealthier children have had access to alternatives, such as online learning, the poorest do not. The world’s least-advantaged children – for whom education offers the only escape route from poverty – have thus fallen further behind, placing the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030 even further out of reach.

Even before the pandemic, the world was falling short of this goal. Globally, nearly 260 million children were out of school, and 400 million dropped out after the age of 11. In some regions, such as rural Sub-Saharan Africa, few girls were completing secondary school, not least because of widespread child marriage. Nearly 50 countries have no laws banning child marriage, and many more fail to enforce their bans. As a result, about 12 million school-age girls are forcibly married off each year.

When schools reopen, there is a good chance that many poor children will never return. Poverty is the biggest reason why children don’t attend school, and the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis will far outlast lockdowns, especially for the poorest people.

The likely result is that more children will be pushed into the ranks of the 152 million school-age children forced to work, as 14 countries still have not ratified the International Labor Organization’s minimum-age convention. And even more girls will be forced into early marriage. When the West African Ebola epidemic that started in 2014 closed schools in Sierra Leone, the number of 15-19-year-old-girls who were pregnant or already mothers nearly doubled, rising from 30% to 65%. Most of these girls never returned to school.

With the right policies in place, economies will start to recover, jobs will slowly be restored, and social-protection policies will ease the poverty of the unemployed. But there is little protection against the effects of a foregone education, which can last a lifetime.

As it stands, more than half the world’s children – nearly 900 million boys and girls – are unable to read a simple text by age 10. That is 900 million children who do not receive the knowledge and skills needed to improve their economic lot as adults. If we do nothing to help “Generation COVID” make up for lost time, that figure could easily approach one billion or more. When schools in Kashmir closed for 14 weeks in the aftermath of the devastating 2005 earthquake, the most affected children lost the equivalent of 1.5 years of learning.

As the recently published UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report advises us, children who have fallen behind need the kind of catch-up programs that in Latin America have increased educational attainment by up to 18 months since the 1990s. But the needed support will cost money. Unless we bridge the gap in education funding, SDG4 will remain out of reach.

UNESCO estimates that before the COVID-19 crisis, 50 countries were failing to spend the recommended minimum of 4% of national income, or 15% of the public budget, on education. Inadequate funding from governments and donors has meant that many of the 30 million refugee and forcibly displaced children age out of education without ever setting foot in a classroom, despite the efforts of Education Cannot Wait and other groups.

Now, the pandemic is set to squeeze education budgets even further. As slower or negative growth undermines tax revenues, less money will be available for public services. When allocating limited funds, urgent lifesaving expenditure on health and social safety nets will take precedence, leaving education underfunded.

Likewise, intensifying fiscal pressure in developed countries will result in reductions in international development aid, including for education, which is already losing out to other priorities in the allocation of bilateral and multilateral aid. The World Bank now estimates that, over the next year, overall education spending in low- and middle-income countries could be $100-150 billion lower than previously planned.

This funding crisis will not resolve itself. The quickest way to free up resources for education is through . The 76 poorest countries must pay $106 billion in debt-service costs over the next two years. Creditors should forgive these payments, with a requirement that the money is reallocated to education, as well as health.

At the same time, multilateral financial institutions and regional development banks must increase their resources. The International Monetary Fund should issue $1.2 trillion in Special Drawing Rights (its global reserve asset), and channel these resources toward the countries that need them most.

The World Bank, for its part, should unlock more support by replenishing the International Development Association (or borrowing on the strength of it) for low-income countries, and by using guarantees and grants from willing aid donors, such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which stand ready to unlock billions in extra finance for education in lower-middle-income countries through the International Finance Facility for Education.

In the next few days, both NGOs and all international education organizations will begin “back to school” campaigns. Save Our Future, a new campaign launching in late July, advocates building back better, rather than restoring the pre-pandemic status quo. That means updating classrooms and transforming curricula, implementing effective technologies, and helping teachers offer personalized instruction. Making schools safer (over 620 million children lack basic sanitation services at their schools, which particularly affects girls) and ensuring school meals (a lifeline for 370 million boys and girls) would also ease the effects of poverty and improve educational outcomes. Save the Children will add to this pressure with its own grassroots campaign focused on debt relief to pay for education.

But investing in schools is only part of the solution. In Sierra Leone, support networks for girls halved the dropout rate during the Ebola crisis. In Latin American, African, and Asian countries, conditional cash transfers have boosted school attendance. The latest Global Education Monitoring Report advocates implementing similar programs today.Generation COVID has already suffered immensely. It is time for the international community to give children the opportunities they deserve. Even when faced with momentous challenges, we remain committed to making ours the first generation in history in which every child is in school and learning. Both national governments and the international community must now step up collective efforts to achieve that goal.

About the Authors

Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, is United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity and Education Cannot Wait High Level Steering Group.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT INVESTS $48 MILLION IN CHAD AND ETHIOPIA

In just one week, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), with the Governments of Ethiopia and Chad and implementing partners, launched two new multi-year resilience programmes in Chad (7 February) and Ethiopia (14 February) with US$48 million in seed funding over three years to roll out crucial programme activities and catalyse additional resources.

TOGETHER WITH PARTNERS, THIS WEEK SAW THE LAUNCH OF TWO MULTI-YEAR RESILIENCE PROGRAMMES TO ACCELERATE SDG 4  

10 multi-year programmes have been approved to date as ECW – the global fund for education in emergencies – and partners gain momentum to support UN Decade of Action

15 February 2020, New York – In just one week, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), with the Governments of Ethiopia and Chad and implementing partners, launched two new multi-year resilience programmes in Chad (7 February) and Ethiopia (14 February) with US$48 million in seed funding over three years to roll out crucial programme activities and catalyse additional resources.

The budgets for these multi-year programmes total US$216 million and thus call for urgent funding to fill the remaining gaps. When fully funded, the programmes will support quality education for approximately 1 million children and youth affected by conflict, forced displacement, protracted crises and impacts of climate change, including droughts and floods.

With the launch of the government-led programmes in Chad and Ethiopia, ECW and its partners have now realized a proven model for advancing humanitarian-development coherence in 10 crisis-affected countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, State of Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Uganda.

“In Chad, Ethiopia and other crisis-affected countries, children’s lives have been ripped apart by conflict, forced displacement, climate change impacts and protracted crises. Girls are the most affected and are therefore our top priority. Across these programmes, we must ensure that every child and young person can enjoy their right to inclusive and continued quality education in a protective learning environment – one that caters to all their educational needs and allows them to become who they were meant to be,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

“We must not leave these children behind. They all have the right to develop and thrive. By working together with national governments, UN agencies, donors and other key partners, we are building a global movement to reach these children and to accelerate actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within the UN’s Decade of Action,” continued Sherif.

ECW operates with unprecedented speed and agility in mobilizing partnerships and resources to deliver results for children, helping to advance Sustainable Development Goal 4 – quality inclusive education – for children and youth affected by conflicts, disasters, forced displacement and protracted crises.

In just three years of operation, the Fund has already raised over half a billion dollars and reached over 2.3 million girls and boys, including refugees, internally displaced children, and other children and youth affected by emergencies and protracted crises. 

Kickstarting resource mobilization

The programme launches in Chad and Ethiopia kickstart global efforts to fully fund each of the multi-year resilience programmes (MYRPs), and donors are encouraged to help make a transformational difference in the lives of crises-affected children and youth.

  • In Chad, ECW plans to allocate a total US$21 million over three years in seed funding grants to catalyse the additional US$30 million required to fully fund the three-year programme and reach 230,000 crisis-affected girls and boys.
  • In Ethiopia, ECW plans to allocate a total US$27 million in seed funding grants to catalyse the additional US$138 million required to fully fund the three-year US$165 million programme and reach approximately 746,000 crisis-affected girls and boys.

The ECW-facilitated MYRPs help bridge the gap between emergency response and long-term development and focus on reaching the most marginalized and vulnerable children and youth, such as girls and children with disabilities. MYRPs are developed on the ground in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders – national   governments, UN agencies, donors, private sector and civil society.

Interventions are designed to provide whole-of-child solutions and to reintegrate out-of-school girls and boys into learning and training programmes, improve learning environments, train teachers, improve the governance of the education system in emergency situations, provide psychosocial and school feeding services, support early childhood education and to increase enrolment and retention.

H.E. Aboubakar Assidick Tchoroma, Chad’s Minister of National Education & Civic Promotion, with Yasmine Sherif at the Chad multi-year resilience programme launch

Key facts and figures on Chad

The protracted crisis in Chad has pushed 1.2 million children (aged 6 to 11) out of school. Only 19 per cent of girls and 40 per cent of boys access lower-secondary-school education, and only one out of every ten girls complete middle school. Developed under the auspices of Chad’s Ministry of National Education and Civic Promotion (MENPC) with the support of Education Cannot Wait and a range of UN agencies and international and national civil society partners, the new MYRP focuses on refugee, displaced and host community children and youth and those affected by food insecurity and malnutrition.

In advance of the Ethiopia launch, Yasmine Sherif visited with children in Ethiopia’s hard-hit Oromiya Region with the State Minister of Education H.E Tsion Teklu, and representatives from Save the Children and UNICEF.

Key facts and figures on Ethiopia

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, 527,000 of them girls. Latest data shows that 728 schools have been damaged by conflict or natural disasters. In Ethiopia, the Ministry of Education will lead the programme in partnership with Save the Children, UNICEF, Education Cannot Wait, and the Education Cluster.

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Notes to Editors

  • Education Cannot Wait announces a record-high US$64 million investment to support new multi-year education programmes in Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria (Read full announce in here)
  • Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Chad  [Read the full announcement here: En, Fr]
  • Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Ethiopia  [Read the full announcement here
  • Share our social Chad video on facebook and twitter
  • Share our social Ethiopia video on facebook and twitter

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO DELIVER EDUCATION TO CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CRISES IN ETHIOPIA

Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the global fund dedicated to education in emergencies, has announced a three-year, US$165 million initiative to provide education to 746,000 children affected by crises in Ethiopia. Simultaneously, ECW announced a planned seed grant of US$27 million to support initial efforts that include mobilizing US$138 million needed to fully fund the programme.

The three-year, US$165 million investment will provide education to 746,000 children in areas affected by conflict

14 February 2020, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the global fund dedicated to education in emergencies, has announced a three-year, US$165 million initiative to provide education to 746,000 children affected by crises in Ethiopia. Simultaneously, ECW announced a planned seed grant of US$27 million to support initial efforts that include mobilizing US$138 million needed to fully fund the programme.

Speaking at the launch in the Ethiopian capital, ECW Director Yasmine Sherif said the programme is designed to address the specific challenges holding back access to quality education of children and youth in communities – these are the children left furthest behind due to violence, drought, displacement and other crises.

“Working with the Government and all our Education Cannot Wait partners, this investment provides protective learning environments and inclusive quality education to girls and boys living in very difficult circumstances,” she said. “We must not leave them behind. They too have a right to develop and thrive. They have so much to achieve and give. By working together in mobilizing all the required resources, we now have a chance to ensure that no child in Ethiopia is left behind.”

State Minister of Education H.E Tsion Teklu and Yasmine Sherif talking with crisis-affected children in the Oromiya region

The multi-year resilience programme was developed by the Ministry of Education with support from Education Cannot Wait and a range of partners – United Nations agencies, civil society organisations and donors – to address the educational needs of displaced 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, 527,000 of them girls. Latest data shows that 728 schools have been damaged by conflict or natural disasters.

The ECW programme will provide educational opportunities to 746,000 children – 380,000 boys and 365,000 girls, including 74,600 children with disabilities. Of these, 213,000 children will access early childhood education and 532,000 will receive primary education. The programme will further build the capacity of 1,200 refugee teachers to achieve diploma level certification.

ECW has earmarked seed funding of US$27 million to address the educational needs of 60,487 displaced children, returnees, and children from host communities in Amhara, Oromia and Somali regions. Part of this money will also support efforts to mobilize the funding gap of US$138 million needed to fund the whole programme.

The Ministry of Education will lead the programme in partnership with Save the Children International, UNICEF, Education Cannot Wait, and the Education Cluster. UNICEF and Save the Children will implement Education Cannot Wait’s planned $27 million three-year grant.

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About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):

ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure.

To date, ECW investments span more than 30 countries affected by armed conflict, disaster and forced displacement.

Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait  @YasmineSherif1   @KentPage

Additional information available at: www.educationcannotwait.org

For press inquiries, please contact:

Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735

Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@un-ecw.org, +1-917-640-6820

Victor Chinyama, vchinyama@unicef.org, +251-911-255-109

Wossen Mulatu, wmulatu@unicef.org, +251-911-308-483

Hiwot Emishaw, Hiwot.Emishaw@savethechildren.org

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ANNOUNCES A RECORD-HIGH US$64 MILLION INVESTMENT TO SUPPORT NEW MULTI-YEAR EDUCATION PROGRAMMES IN CHAD, ETHIOPIA, SOUTH SUDAN AND SYRIA

Seed funding grants from Education Cannot Wait will meet pressing educational needs of girls and boys caught up in the four protracted crises and help catalyze resources to fill the education funding gap

11 December 2019, New York – Education Cannot Wait (ECW) has allocated US$64 million in seed funding grants to support four new multi-year resilience programmes in Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria. This is the largest new investment announced by the Global Fund for Education in Emergencies to date.

The seed funding will roll out interventions that are part of wider multi-year programmes facilitated by Education Cannot Wait to support quality inclusive education for marginalized and vulnerable girls and boys affected by the protracted crises in the four countries.

Taken together, the multi-year programmes aim to mobilize over US$1 billion across the four countries over the next three years to provide about 5 million children and youth with improved access to inclusive, equitable, safe and protective learning environments.

“Across the world, the number of children and youth suffering the brunt of wars, disasters and forced displacement is on the rise, as humanitarian crises are lasting longer than ever before. Girls and boys living in the most challenging conditions in Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria have been waiting for too long for the hope and protection that only education can offer,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Today, together with our partners, we are taking action to end this interminable wait. We are investing in the opportunity of a brighter future for these children and youth, their communities and their countries.” 

The multi-year resilience programmes are designed to bridge the gap between emergency response and long-term development. In ensuring no one is left behind, the programmes all have specific focuses on reaching the most marginalized and vulnerable children and youth, such as girls and children with disabilities.

The programmes were developed on the ground in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders – national   governments, UN organizations, donors, private sector and civil society. Interventions are designed to provide whole-of-child solutions in protracted crises situations where armed conflict, forced displacement, climate change, poverty, hunger, gender-based violence and discrimination are jeopardizing children’s future and derailing efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Programme interventions include everything from building protective learning spaces, training teachers and expanding school feeding programmes. Specific retention initiatives for girls and boys whose education has been interrupted due to harmful practices such as early marriage and forced recruitment are also included, as well as targeted psychosocial and mental health support to help children and youth cope with the stress and adversity that stems from living through conflict and displacement.

 

Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Chad  [Read the full announcement here: En, Fr]

  • US$16 million in seed funding grant allocated by ECW to UNICEF to support the first two years of the programme and help catalyse additional funding
  • Total cost of the multi-year programme: US$51 million over three years

The programme includes comprehensive interventions to reintegrate out-of-school girls and boys into learning and training programmes, improve learning environments and train teachers, support early childhood education, increase enrolment and retention and strengthen the education system in emergency situations. Psychosocial and school feeding services are also included. Out-of-school adolescent girls and boys will also benefit from non-formal education and skills development to gain basic literacy and improve their employability.

 

H.E. Aboubakar Assidick Tchoroma, Minister of National Education and Civic Promotion of Chad, said: “With generous funding from Education Cannot Wait, this new programme will reach girls and boy that have been left behind as the result of ongoing crises and emergency in the region. It’s an investment in our children and in a more prosperous future for the country.”

 

Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Ethiopia  [Read the full announcement here

  • US$17.9 million in seed funding grants allocated by ECW to UNICEF and Save the Children to support the first two years of the programme and help catalyse additional funding
  • Total cost of the multi-year programme: US$161 million over three years

The programme supports the delivery of learning through equitable access to relevant (crisis-sensitive) and quality education. Interventions target displaced children and youth, host communities as well as refugee and national teachers. The programme will bridge short-term humanitarian education responses; medium to longer-term capacity development and resilience building efforts of key education systems, institutions, and constituencies.

 

H.E. Dr. Tilaye Gete, Minister of Education of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, said: “This multi-year investment from Education Cannot Wait will help address one of the most important yet often overlooked needs for vulnerable children and youth in times of crisis. By building a programmatic response that brings together multiple stakeholders including the local community, this is a sustainable investment in the future of our children and in the prosperity of our country.”

 

Multi-Year Resilience Programme in South Sudan [Read the full announcement here]

  • US$20 million in seed funding grant allocated by ECW to Save the Children to support the first two years of the programme and help catalyse additional funding.
  • Total cost of the multi-year programme: US$189 million over three years

The programme is grounded in the reality of South Sudan, where systemic change in the education sector is needed to drive results for all children, with a focus on girls and children with disabilities, while also supporting recovery and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and the transition from emergency to development. Given the impact of displacement, conflicts and crises, and extreme levels of poverty, the programme ensures a holistic support to learners and teachers to achieve quality education outcomes.

 

Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Syria

  • US$10 million in seed funding grant allocated by ECW to UNICEF to support the first year of the programme and help catalyse additional funding
  • Total cost of the multi-year programme: US$783 million over three years

As the war in Syria enters its ninth year, the three-year “Reaching Syria’s Underserved Children” programme is designed to get children and youth back in safe, protective and equitable learning environments, prevent future drop-outs, and scale up the results of the Education Cannot Wait-financed two-year Initial Investment in the country.  

 

To download the press release as PDF, please click here.

 

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):

ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure. 

To date, ECW investments span more than 30 countries affected by armed conflict, disaster and forced displacement.

Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait  @YasmineSherif1   @KentPage  

Additional information available at: www.educationcannotwait.org and www.act4education.org

For press inquiries, please contact:
Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735

Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@educationcannotwait.org, +1-917-640-6820

 For any other inquiries, please contact:
info@educationcannotwait.org

FROM CONFLICT TO THE CLASSROOM – A REFUGEE’S STORY

The author Benoite Gyubahiro (right) at Bambasi refugee camp primary school with a classmate. She is the only student from DRC in her 8th Grade class, whereas the vast majority are from Sudan. © UNICEF/Ethiopia/2019/Tsegaye
The author Benoite Gyubahiro (right) at Bambasi refugee camp primary school with a classmate. She is the only student from DRC in her 8th Grade class, whereas the vast majority are from Sudan. © UNICEF/Ethiopia/2019/Tsegaye

BENOITE GYUBAHIRO RECOUNTS HER INSPIRING JOURNEY FROM THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO TO BECOME A TEACHER AND STUDENT IN ETHIOPIA’S DISPLACEMENT CAMPS

I came to Ethiopia in 2013, and lived in the Sherkole refugee camp, where I spent four years. Before Sherkole I was studying in a government school in Uganda. Now I am in Bambasi Camp [in Ethiopia], where I have been for the last two years. When I left my home country the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I was 12 years old and studying in Grade 2. We lived in a rural area close to the capital Kinshasa.

War made us leave DRC. It was a war between two tribes. When it broke out in Rwanda, some Rwandan people fled to the Congo. Many in the Congo wanted them to go back. And that’s why there is conflict there.

My parents could sense there might be a problem and decided to leave before things became bad. While the conflict was on, we were not there to see it. I was in Uganda at the time studying in a government school in Grade 4. I did not see anyone get killed because we left before the real danger.

Eventually, we had to leave Uganda as well. My parents decided that we needed to get away to the farthest place possible. They communicated with relatives in Kenya who advised us to go to Ethiopia, because it was safer there.

We traveled by bus. I took one bag with clothes only. Everything else, we left behind. We couldn’t bring anything as we didn’t have the time. I don’t even have a passport or any identification. My parents do, but I have nothing.

Both my parents are educated. Back in the DRC my father worked as a photographer for the government. He took pictures and held exhibitions. Among other things he photographed dying people. He now studies at the University in Assosa. My mother worked simple jobs with UNICEF and Save the Children.

Right now, I am a 2nd Grade teacher. I teach mathematics: addition and subtraction. But I am also a Grade 8 student. I try to manage my time between teaching and studying. Between 8 am and 12 pm, I am at school teaching 100 students. Then I come back in the afternoon to pursue my own studies. It is difficult to manage, but I try. As a teacher I make 805 birr per month.

An Ethiopian national teaches my Grade 8 class of 65 students. He teaches in English and is very helpful. He’s a good teacher, but I want to be better than him.

I don’t get to interact much with the Ethiopians — our host community — because I am always busy, usually at school. I also have chores to do: making food and collecting water. When I cook, it’s usually rice, beans and meat. Tonight, I will cook fish that I bought from the market today.

For fun, I sometimes play volleyball, which I like. I have made some friends from Sudan in the camp. We communicate in English and I help whoever is interested to learn more.

After Grade 8 I want to go to Grade 9. I will then go to the new school (constructed with funds from Education Cannot Wait), something I am looking forward to.

I received some basic training in teaching (but not a professional certificate). I want to continue teaching now but eventually, I want to become a doctor. I am not married yet and I don’t want to have kids either. Maybe in the future.

For now, I want to stay in Ethiopia as it is better here. I think it is possible to learn Amharic and settle down and live here, where there is peace.

 

Benoite Gyubahiro at Bambasi refugee camp primary school with her Sudanese classmates. Of the more than 62,000 refugees in the region, 72% are from Sudan, 26.5% are from South Sudan, and 1% are Congolese (with 0.5% from other places). © UNICEF/Ethiopia/2019/Tsegaye
Benoite Gyubahiro at Bambasi refugee camp primary school with her Sudanese classmates. Of the more than 62,000 refugees in the region, 72% are from Sudan, 26.5% are from South Sudan, and 1% are Congolese (with 0.5% from other places). © UNICEF/Ethiopia/2019/Tsegay

Benoite Gyubahiro (17) is a Grade 2 teacher and student from Democratic Republic of the Congo, currently living as a refugee in Ethiopia. As told to Amanda Westfall, Communications and Resource Mobilization Specialist at UNICEF Ethiopia. View original.

 

ENSURING EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR REFUGEE AND HOST COMMUNITY CHILDREN IN ETHIOPIA

Pal Biel Jany, 15, grade 4, wants to be the future president of South Sudan. He goes to school in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
Pal Biel Jany, 15, grade 4, wants to be the future president of South Sudan. He goes to school in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

Refugee primary school teacher Changkuoth Ter Wal explains the importance of investing in new schools and teacher training diploma programmes. With US$15 million from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), new schools and trained teachers are on the rise in the refugee-hosting regions of Gambella and Benishangal-Gumuz.  Story originally published  on UNICEF Ethiopia.

By Amanda Westfall

Like most children in Tierkidi Refugee Camp in Gambella, Ethiopia, 15-year-old Pal Biel Jany fled from violence in South Sudan five years ago. He left his entire immediate family behind and currently lives with his aunt in the camp.

Pal has been displaced and separated from his parents and siblings for nearly one-third of his life. For refugee children, especially those experiencing traumatic displacement processes, it is imperative that they find stability and support – and schools can play a significant role.

Pal is lucky to have Changkuoth Ter Wal as his fourth-grade teacher at Teirkidi #3 Primary School. Changkuoth was never given the opportunity to attend formal training for teaching – like most refugee teachers who hold no professional diplomas and only participate in short trainings offered at the camp. Nevertheless, he is determined to improve the conditions for the next generation.

Changkuoth, Ter, 26, is a grade 4 science teacher. He joined Tierkidi School No. 3, Refugee Camp in 2014. His first daughter, 6, goes to the same school where he teaches. Whereas his wife, 22, is in grade 10 and goes to Diaca Secondary School located in the same Refugee Camp. He is hopeful that the buildings currently being constructed will help overcome the various obstacles that the students face such as; rain, outdoor noises and heat created by the metal walls. Tierkidi School No. 3, Refugee Camp, Itang Woreda, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
Changkuoth, Ter, 26, is a grade 4 science teacher. He joined Tierkidi School No. 3, Refugee Camp in 2014. His first daughter, 6, goes to the same school where he teaches. His wife, 22, is in grade 10 and goes to Diaca Secondary School located in the same Refugee Camp. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

“I can see how education is good for the community and the children. In South Sudan and here in the camps, there are more illiterate people than educated,” said Changkuoth.

But the situation changed last summer when he was given an opportunity of a life time. He and 343 other refugees were told they would be able to attend college and pursue teaching diplomas. Now, they can finally become professional teachers and improve the quality of education for refugee children.

In addition to investing in teachers, the refugee camps are benefitting from the construction of new schools and classrooms. Primary and secondary school access is still low (at a 75 per cent and 12.5 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio for Gambella region) and class congestion is extremely high (the primary school student/teacher ratio is 106:1). With the expansion of learning spaces and investments in teacher training, the hope is to bring more children to school, reduce congestion, and improve the delivery of education.

The new schools are part of a US$15 million two-year investment by Education Cannot Wait, a new global fund for education in crisis hosted by UNICEF. The investment includes the construction of three new inclusive model secondary schools, 41 classrooms in eight secondary schools, 84 classrooms in four primary schools, and the provision of classroom furniture (desks, chairs, chalkboards) in Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella regions, which are host to mostly South Sudanese refugees.

But the support goes further than construction, since infrastructure alone may increase access to schools, but doesn’t guarantee quality of teaching in the schools. The investment also supports teacher training through diploma programmes (like the one Changkuoth attends) as well as providing teaching and learning materials.

Students learning in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
Students learning in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR REFUGEES AND HOST COMMUNITIES

Pal’s camp sits within three kilometers of the neighboring ‘host’ Ethiopian community. Like their refugee peers, the host community also struggles with poverty and limited access to quality education. The Education Cannot Wait-supported investment brings equal opportunities for education to both host and refugee children and introduces integrated services through the construction of new secondary schools where both refugee and host children can learn together in government-run schools overseen by the Ministry of Education. Key project partners include the Ministry of Education, the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs, UNICEF, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Niyakueka Gatluak, 20, teaches grade 1 students in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp. She teaches Nuer language (Thok Naath), spoken by Nuer people of South Sudan and people of Gambella. She has a 9 months old son. She wants him to be a doctor when he grows up. Gambella Region, UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
Niyakueka Gatluak, 20, teaches grade 1 students in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp. She teaches Nuer language (Thok Naath), spoken by Nuer people of South Sudan and people of Gambella. She has a 9 months old son. She wants him to be a doctor when he grows up. Gambella Region, UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

MOVING FROM TEMPORARY TO STABLE

Classrooms like those currently at Tierkidi #3 were first constructed as temporary solutions when it was uncertain how long the refugees would stay in Ethiopia. the temporary low-cost structures were made of wood and metal sheets that could be destroyed by harsh weather but as the conflict continues in South Sudan, services can no longer be viewed as short-term solutions.

“The [temporary] school may fall down because of rain and wind so we are very excited with the new classrooms [permanent structures built from concrete bricks]. There will be so many advantages. When the students hit the metal sheets, it makes loud sounds and disturbs the children who are learning inside. With the new buildings this won’t happen,” said Changuoth.

Students posing for a picture for the camera outside of their classroom in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
The Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp provides a safe and secure learning environment. Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

THE IMPACT OF THE INVESTMENT

Pal’s family trusts in him to gain a good education so he can help his younger siblings one day. For this reason, his family agreed that he lives with his aunt in the Tierkidi camp since there are no educational opportunities in South Sudan where his immediate family still lives.

“I have to work hard to complete my education so I can support my two younger brothers and three younger sisters who are still in South Sudan and can’t go to school,” said Pal.

Through the investment in construction, teacher training, and provision of teaching/learning materials, Pal and an expected 12,000 other children from refugee camps and surrounding host communities will enjoy an improved quality of education.

Story by Amanda Westfall, published with express permission from the original.

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Gambella Region, Ethiopia

 

REVERSING THE CYCLE

IN ETHIOPIA PIONEERING PROGRAMME GIVES ADVANCED EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS TO TRAIN REFUGEE TEACHERS

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Poch Jackson Petov has been a refugee all his life. Energetic, determined and fearless, the 25-year-old Poch has created opportunities for himself – seemingly out of nothing. Photo © UNICEF

IN ETHIOPIA PIONEERING PROGRAMME GIVES ADVANCED EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS TO TRAIN REFUGEE TEACHERS

We live in a world where millions of people will live their entire lives as refugees. Living in camps, settlements and urban contexts, too often on the edge of society. These victims of conflict and crisis remain caught in a hard-to-fathom cycle of exclusion, despair and socio-economic marginalization.

For children and youth, this negative cycle is only made worse by a lack of continuous, safe and quality education, limited resources, and unqualified teachers.

Ethiopia has a long tradition of welcoming refugees. Currently it hosts Africa’s second largest refugee population and has one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Despite its generosity as a host-country, Ethiopia’s estimated 925,000 refugee population has put a strain on the country’s coping capacity to meet their needs. This is the frontlines of the refugee education crisis in Africa.

Only half of the refugee children living here have access to education. Girls are left further behind, with only 45 per cent attending school. For many of these refugee children, there are no classrooms, no books to read and few qualified teachers.

UNHCR notes that just 50 per cent of Ethiopia’s refugee schools fulfill minimum standards for safe and conducive learning environments.

But this is about to change.

The Government of Ethiopia has taken a strong stance to improve the rights and services enjoyed by refugees in the country. As part of the 2017 Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, Ethiopia has made nine pledges, including to “increase enrollment of refugee children in preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary education, without discrimination and within available resources.”

To support delivery of the response framework, and help Ethiopia achieve its goals of ending poverty and hunger, and ensuring equitable education for all by 2030 as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals, Education Cannot Wait partnered with UNICEF, UNHCR and the Government of Ethiopia to create a far-reaching US$15 million intervention that has already surpassed its goal of providing over 68,000 refugee children with quality education, quality school settings and quality teachers.

Somali refugee children share a meal inside a tent in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. Fleeing drought and famine in their home country, thousands of Somalis have taken up residence across the border in Dollo Ado, where a complex of camps is assisted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Somali refugee children share a meal inside a tent in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia in 2011. Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

TEACHING THE TEACHERS

One promising achievement coming out of this initial two-year programme is an innovative initiative to provide advanced education to train teachers working in refugee education centers.

Only a minority of those who teach in refugee primary schools in the intervention area are qualified professional teachers holding teaching diplomas. Many of these teachers are refugees themselves. Providing advanced education for these teachers not only improves the quality of education in the camps, but it also provides a real chance to reverse the negative cycle that perpetuates poverty traps and limits opportunities for refugees young and old.  In all, the project targets training for 1,000 teachers and education professionals, of whom 444 will be women.

Poch Jackson Petov has been a refugee all his life. Energetic, determined and fearless, the 25-year-old Poch has created opportunities for himself – seemingly out of nothing.

Poch’s father died in South Sudan before he was born and he was separated from his mother when he was in the second grade. He fled the violence in his home country to seek refuge in Ethiopia. Against all odds, he managed to gain a primary and secondary education and learn Amharic while living in the Sherkole Refugee Camp in Ethiopia.

Community-minded and driven, Poch became a “volunteer teacher” for the camp, making around US$25 a month to teach primary school.

Sudanese refugees Anur, Sami, James and Abdalaziz © UNICEF Ethiopia/ 2018/Amanda Westfall
“I am proud of this programme. It will enable me to improve the knowledge of my community.” – James. Sudanese refugees Anur, Sami, James and Abdalaziz © UNICEF Ethiopia/ 2018/Amanda Westfall

“We had a meeting with school principals. We asked them, ‘Why can’t we get training to improve our skills?’ We are stuck in one position. Then we waited,” said Poch.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, scholarships were created for Poch and others to attend college. This is a key component of Ethiopia’s focus on inclusion and empowerment for refugees as outlined in the Comprehensive Response Framework to “increase enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education to all qualified refugees without discrimination and within the available resources.” The “full-ride” scholarships include education, room and board, health care, and transport between the refugee camps and the college.

Some 343 refugees are now enrolled in college through the scholarships. The courses are taught in English, and students can study along a variety of tracks from physical education and integrated sciences to math, social science and English.

“Finally, [the opportunity] came and we have a partner to help us continue education,” said Poch.

South Sudanese refugees and current college students, Poch Jackson Petov and Hamid Abdallah Hamad in front of Gilgel-Beles College of Teacher Education. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Amanda Westfall
South Sudanese refugees and current college students, Poch Jackson Petov and Hamid Abdallah Hamad in front of Gilgel-Beles College of Teacher Education. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Amanda Westfall

PROMISING RESULTS

The Education Cannot Wait programme in Ethiopia has already exceeded targets for the number of children reached. Thus far over 82,000 children of the targeted 68,000 have been reached. Girls are often the most vulnerable. Of the targeted 28,000 girls, now over 32,000 have been reached with formal and non-formal education initiatives. Of the 157 classrooms targeted for support with equipment, infrastructure and classroom materials, 73 have been reached thus far, while additional infrastructures are being built.

Sami Balla is another refugee who is receiving training through the programme.

“Now, we can go back with the diploma and say we are teachers and we are professionals! I now have pride to work at the school,” said Sami, who has been a refugee for seven years now.

With their diplomas, Posh, Sami and hundreds more like them will return to the refugee camps to use their new skills to improve the quality of education for their communities. With improved teaching skills, and renewed self-determination, these educators are pioneering a new path for refugees living in Ethiopia – and a bold example for the rest of the world on the value of education.

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Based on the original story by Amanda Westfall.