ECW INTERVIEW WITH ALLEGRA BAIOCCHI – A HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR COMMITTED TO EMERGENCY EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN IN CAMEROON

Allegra Baiocchi is the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Cameroon.

The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Cameroon shares insights on the current humanitarian situation, the importance of education for children caught in emergencies and the crucial role of ECW’s support to the emergency response in the country.

ECW: As the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Cameroon, you have shown an exemplary commitment to education for children and youth. Could you please describe their situation, challenges and opportunities?

Allegra Baiocchi: The situation in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon is dire for all school-aged children. Hundreds of thousands of children have been out of school for nearly three full years. More than 80 per cent of schools have been closed and enrolment is reduced by 40-80 per cent in most of the schools that remain operational. This means that around 950,000 children have been forced to leave school. 9 out of 10 children are currently out of school in both regions.

Conflict-affected out-of-school children are exposed to a myriad of severe crisis-related protection risks including sexual exploitation and abuse, gender-based violence, harassment and recruitment by armed forces or armed groups, prostitution, arbitrary arrest, early marriage and pregnancy and child labour.

Children in the North-West and South-West regions have also been exposed to numerous traumatic incidents including witnessing violence from military and/or non-state armed groups, destruction of homes and villages, torture and killings, and mass displacement. After three years of conflict, children are suffering from prolonged toxic stress which has had a severe impact on their well-being and has diminished children’s natural resilience.

Children require urgent support to manage their emotions, understand the normal reactions they are having to an abnormal situation, and improve their psychosocial well-being and resilience through play-based learning and positive social interactions with peers and adult role models. It is imperative to provide children with safe, inclusive and protective learning environments as a first step to reduce exposure to harm and to re-establish a routine and a sense of normalcy.

ECW: How do you see the education sector in relation to other sectors, in achieving the Global Goals, and what importance does it have to you in leading the UN country team and humanitarian community in Cameroon?

Allegra Baiocchi: Education is a fundamental right and is also essential to achieve the 17 Global Goals; nothing should restrict children’s access to quality learning. Education is also a main vehicle for development and is essential to reduce poverty and inequality, to strengthen peace and institutions, to increase economic growth and to improve the overall well-being of populations.

The UN team and the humanitarian community are highly concerned about the current situation. What will be the future for an entire generation of children when so many are out of school? In recent years, Cameroon’s school enrolment rates for both boys and girls has been increasing as a result of development policies. As humanitarians, we must pursue all possible avenues for providing access to quality education, even in circumstances in which education is under attack.

ECW: What is the funding situation for education in the humanitarian appeals and among donors in Cameroon, as well as globally towards Cameroon?

Allegra Baiocchi: The humanitarian response plan for Cameroon requires funding of US$298.9 million, but to date is only 19.7 per cent funded. Education is one of the worst funded sectors; prior to receiving Education Cannot Wait (ECW) funding, only 6 per cent of the financial requirement for education in North-West and South-West regions had been met. With ECW funding, 23 per cent of the funding gap will now be covered. Source : https://fts.unocha.org/appeals/718/summary

ECW: What made you reach out to Education Cannot Wait and what were your expectations?

Allegra Baiocchi: Because Education Cannot Wait is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises, it is essential for Cameroon to have the Fund’s support for the education response. This also helps underline education as a priority within the country humanitarian agenda.

Receiving funding and support from ECW is also important for advocacy, to raise the profile of the severity of the education crisis in the North-West and South-West regions. Not only is Cameroon’s humanitarian response the worst funded in Africa, but the education response for the North-West and South-West was almost entirely un-funded prior to receiving ECW support.

With Education Cannot Wait funding, we will be able to ensure 18,386 children have access to quality education; the vast majority of these children were previously out of school. This funding will also highlight the severity of the crisis and the humanitarian commitment to ensuring children are able to fulfil their right to education. It is hoped that this will encourage other international donors to also fund the education response so that we can reach significantly more children with subsequent funding.

ECW: How did you find the ECW response? Did it support you in your responsibilities as the RC/HC? What will the ECW investment do to (strategy and activities) to achieve change?

Allegra Baiocchi: Education Cannot Wait’s funding is aligned with the inter-agency humanitarian appeal and covers 23 per cent of the current funding gap for the North-West/South-West education response. It will support 18,386 children (of whom 9,505 are girls) of pre-primary, primary and secondary school age in accessing quality formal and non-formal education learning opportunities in the two regions.

This crucial grant will be implemented over the next 12 months by Plan International (US$750,000), UNESCO (US$1.1 million), the Danish Refugee Council (US$400,000) and the World Food Programme (US$500,000), in collaboration with the Government of Cameroon and the Cameroon Education Cluster.

Education activities will support the resumption and continuity of learning for crisis-affected children and youth – a majority of whom have been out of school for three years now. There will also be a focus on protection to reduce risks of exploitation, child labour, early marriage, early pregnancy and recruitment into armed forces and armed groups. Psychosocial support, school feeding programmes, vocational training for youth, community reintegration and school readiness will also be supported.

ECW: Any final words from your side?

Allegra Baiocchi: The situation for children in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon is alarming. Almost all schools have been closed and nearly all children are currently out of school. In an area of active conflict, this puts children in immediate danger – outside of a protective school environment, children are regularly exposed to traumatic incidents and are at risk of being directly harmed.

Hundreds of thousands of children have now missed all of secondary school or half of primary school. Illiteracy is on the rise. Families, communities and children themselves are losing all hope for the future. It is the responsibility of the humanitarian community to protect children’s right to education and to get these kids back on track with their learning. With Education Cannot Wait funding, this is what we will be doing.

ECW: Thank-you so much for your time and your dedicated efforts in Cameroon, Allegra.  

About Ms. Allegra Maria Del Pilar Baiocchi, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system and Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon

Ms. Allegra Baiocchi is the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Cameroon, since July 18, 2017.

Prior to her appointment as the highest ranking United Nations official in Cameroon, Ms. Baiocchi held the position of Regional Representative for West and Central Africa for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), based in Dakar, Senegal.

Ms. Baiocchi has held several positions within the United Nations, she has also worked in NGOs and academia. She has held several international postings, including in Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan and South Sudan and at the UN Secretariat Headquarter in New York.

An Italian and Venezuelan bi-national, Ms. Baiocchi holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and Development Economics from the University of Rome, Italy. She speaks French, Spanish and English.

Follow @AllegraBaiocchi and @EduCannotWait to #Act4Ed in Crisis. 

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ALLOCATES US$2.7 MILLION TO SUPPORT EMERGENCY EDUCATION RESPONSE FOR CHILDREN AFFECTED BY THE CRISIS IN CAMEROON

Education Cannot Wait announces a US$2.7 million allocation to support the emergency education response in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon where the ongoing crisis has left more than 90 per cent of school-aged children without access to any education opportunities.

Education Cannot Wait’s funding is aligned with the inter-agency humanitarian appeal and covers 23 percent of the current funding gap for the education sector. Photo © UNHCR/Catianne Tijerina

Funding will help restore learning opportunities for more than 18,000 children and youth affected by the crisis

9 July 2019, New York –  Education Cannot Wait announces a US$2.7 million allocation to support the emergency education response in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon where the ongoing crisis has left more than 90 per cent of school-aged children without access to any education opportunities.

Over the last three years, escalating violence and attacks against civilians in these two regions of Cameroon have forced half a million people to flee their homes. Schools, education personnel and students have been targeted by violence and threats, and 80 per cent of schools have closed, according to estimates from humanitarian agencies. More than 670,000 children in the two regions have been forced to leave school.

“Hundreds of thousands of girls and boys in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon are currently out of school. Outside of a protective school environment, they are in immediate danger of recruitment, of exploitation, of sexual abuse and early pregnancy,” said Allegra Baiocchi, United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon. “As illiteracy sets in, the future of these children, of their families and their communities is also at risk. When it comes to education, it cannot be an if, but a how. As Humanitarian Coordinator, I am committed to protect children’s right to education and to get these kids back on track with their learning. With Education Cannot Wait’s funding, this is what we will do,” she said.

Education Cannot Wait’s funding will support 18,386 children (of whom 9,505 are girls) of pre-primary, primary and secondary school age in accessing quality formal and non-formal education learning opportunities in the two regions.

“The sheer scale of the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon has brought the future prospects of an entire generation to a standstill. It is unacceptable that children stay out of school for years and are left behind. Working closely with the Government and through the Education in Emergencies Cluster, UN agencies and NGOs will jointly implement this Education Cannot Wait investment and provide urgently needed response to restore learning opportunities for affected children and youth,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Access to continuous quality education is crucial to protect the girls and boys caught up in such distressing and abnormal circumstances. It nurtures their resilience and helps them develop the skills to thrive while also contributing to the recovery of their communities,” she added.

Education activities will support the resumption and continuity of learning for crisis-affected children and youth – a majority of whom have been out of school for three years now. There will also be a focus on protection to reduce risks of exploitation, child labour, early marriage, early pregnancy and recruitment into armed forces and armed groups. Psychosocial support, school feeding programmes, vocational training for youth, community reintegration and school readiness will also be supported.

The crucial grant will be implemented over the next 12 months by Plan International (US$750,000), UNESCO (US$1.1 million), the Danish Refugee Council (US$400,000) and the World Food Programme (US$500,000) in collaboration with the Government of Cameroon and the national Education Cluster.

Education Cannot Wait’s funding is aligned with the inter-agency humanitarian appeal and covers 23 percent of the current funding gap for the education sector.

 

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ANNOUNCES US$639,000 ALLOCATION TO SUPPORT  EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN COMOROS IN THE AFTERMATH OF CYCLONE KENNETH

Education Cannot Wait approved a US$639,000 allocation to get 27,000 children and youth back into safe and protective learning environments in Comoros after Cyclone Kenneth caused widespread destruction in the small island developing state in late April.

With a US$1.4 million funding gap remaining for the educational humanitarian response, Education Cannot Wait calls on donors and partners to step up to meet the full scope of needs. Photo: UNICEF/Comoros

27,282 CHILDREN TO BENEFIT FROM RAPID EDUCATIONAL RESPONSE

1 July 2019, New York – Education Cannot Wait approved a US$639,000 allocation to get 27,000 children and youth back into safe and protective learning environments in Comoros after Cyclone Kenneth caused widespread destruction in the small island developing state in late April.

The Education Cannot Wait grant will reach 61 per cent of the Comoran children and youth affected by the devastating cyclone, including 14,000 girls. It will be implemented in partnership with the Government of Comoros by UNICEF.

With a US$1.4 million funding gap remaining for the educational humanitarian response, Education Cannot Wait calls on donors and partners to step up to meet the full scope of needs.

“This is an unexpected and extremely traumatic experience for children and youth. By providing them with safe and protective learning environments, they are better equipped to cope with their fears and more empowered to regain a sense of normalcy in their lives,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

Cyclone Kenneth affected approximately 400 schools across the three islands of Comoros. In all, 213 classrooms were totally destroyed and 465 were partially damaged. This has left approximately 44,800 learners without access to safe schools.

Entire communities were shattered, and many teachers and families lost their homes and were displaced by the disaster. The country also faces multiplying risks like the spread of cholera and other water-borne diseases.

The cyclone and flooding happened right around the annual harvest season causing devastating impacts on agriculture, livestock and fisheries. With communities’ livelihoods under such stress, children’s access to education is even more at risk, particularly for girls.

Education Cannot Wait’s allocation focuses on supporting a swift return to school for affected children. It will help: repair damaged school buildings; provide children, teachers and communities with educational supplies and life-saving messaging on disaster risk reduction and hygiene; and, support the government and communities in building back better after the cyclone.

The allocation also focuses on promoting gender equality and equity. This includes ensuring that the estimated 775 pupils with disabilities living in areas affected by Cyclone Kenneth will not be further disadvantaged in the response and recovery phases.

In addition to Education Cannot Wait’s support to the emergency response to Cyclone Kenneth in the Comoros, the Fund is also responding to the urgent educational needs of children in the aftermaths of this year’s cyclone season in Southern Africa in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

KEY FACTS AND FIGURES ON THE ALLOCATION

  • Support to reach 27,282 children in 45 affected communities across the Comoros archipelago
  • Repair damaged roofs in priority schools for a total of 50 classrooms
  • Repair and maintenance of gender-sensitive water and sanitation facilities including the restoration of water connection in affected schools
  • Provide desks for 2,800 pupils
  • Supply schools with quality learning materials, including 100 ‘schools in a box’ and recreational kits
  • Train 700 teachers (50 per cent of whom are women) on the use of educational materials, disaster risk reduction and other mechanisms to make schools a safer place to learn and thrive.

 

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

RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

Thirteen-year-old Manjita from Chitwan District in Nepal’s west. Manjita had lost her parents at a very young age. She had been working in a restaurant a few years ago until she was taken in by an orphanage and started school. ©UNICEF Nepal/2019

After the devastating floods in Nepal, a chance at an education helps a young orphaned girl find opportunity, hope and security

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by UNICEF

Chitwan, Nepal – Thirteen-year-old Manjita* wants to be a social worker one day. The fourth grader from Chitwan District in Nepal’s west is keen on helping people who might not have had the best starts in life.

It is a subject that hits very close to home for her. In her short life, Manjita has been orphaned, missed school, suffered through floods that further impacted her education, and found new hope through a programme backed by Education Cannot Wait and implemented on the ground by UNICEF to get children like her back to learning after the recent floods.

A DANGEROUS PATH

Manjita’s memory of her early childhood is blurry. She knows she is originally from Rolpa District in the far west, but has little recollection of her parents, whom she lost at a very young age.

After living on the streets in Chitwan, working as a cleaner in a restaurant in exchange for room and board, she eventually found her way to an orphanage.

This marked the beginning of a new life for her. Orphanage officials enrolled Manjita at the Shree Siddhi Binayak Secondary School, in grade one. This was the first time she had ever been inside a school, and the transition wasn’t easy for her.

“The other students in my class were much younger and they called me ‘didi’ (older sister). I felt embarrassed around them,” she says. “I didn’t want to go.”

REDUCING RISK

Even as Manjita was struggling to settle into her new life as a student, the area was hit by heavy monsoon flooding in August 2017. Shree Siddhi Binayak was not spared. Floodwaters entered the classrooms and destroyed most of the materials therein, as well as damaging the toilets and other facilities. With classes disrupted by the floods for almost a week, Manjita, already having a hard time at school, was at even greater risk of dropping out and returning to the life of destitution that she had just left behind.

Recognizing the increased risks for children as a result of the disaster, UNICEF – with support from Education Cannot Wait – quickly reached out to Manjita and other vulnerable students like her in flood-hit schools to provide assistance to ensure that they stayed in class.

To encourage their return to school, Manjita and 13 other orphaned children at Shree Siddhi Binayak were each given a package of educational supplies, including a set of notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, pencil sharpeners and a geometry box. This allowed them to more easily pick up their studies where they had left off before the flood. Manjita was also counseled by her teachers, the vice principal and Programme Officer under the ECW project Shashi Kala Pandey about the importance of continuing her education. Eventually, she says, she came to understand that this was an opportunity she should not squander.

In addition, UNICEF under the ECW-financed programme also helped to restore the toilets, and hand-washing and drinking-water facilities in the school that had been rendered unusable by the floods.

The support was part of Education Cannot Wait’s US$1.8 million First Emergency Response in Nepal, which has reached over 170,000 girls and boys like Manjita.

Manjita today loves going to school. She enjoys her social studies and Nepali lessons in particular, and also has a flair for art and drawing. She has also been an active participant in school activities, such as the handwashing demonstrations and disaster risk reduction trainings that were conducted as part of the ECW investment through the school’s child club.

What’s more, the School Management Committee and the local government have now agreed to continue providing educational supplies to other needy students like Manjita in the days to come.

*Name changed

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.

AFTER THE QUAKE

Through the investment, Meggy received a backpack filled with supplies such as pencils and exercise books. Stationery is hard to come by in Mongulu, which has no shops, and some children never had access to these types of school supplies.
Through the investment, Meggy received a backpack filled with supplies such as pencils and exercise books. Stationery is hard to come by in Mongulu, which has no shops, and some children never had access to these types of school supplies. ©UNICEF/PNG/Dingi/2019

IN THE REMOTE VILLAGES OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA, UNICEF BRINGS MUCH-NEEDED RELIEF TO CHILDREN LIVING IN FEAR AFTER A MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE LEVELED HOMES AND DISPLACED FAMILIES THROUGH EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT FUNDED FIRST EMERGENCY RESPONSE

‘Shortage of food and fear were the main things that affected children. When we started school, we could see that children had lost weight. We didn’t have enough food to eat but we’re slowing building back.’

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by UNICEF Papua New Guinea

In February 2018, a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake ripped through Mongulu village, Mt. Bosavi, in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands. It was the first time 8-year-old Meggy Tom had ever experienced an earthquake and it was a terrifying ordeal. The shaking and rumbling continued for weeks afterwards. “We could hear it coming and would run away and hide in our houses,” says Meggy.

The earthquake devastated the small, remote community. Mr. Sasobe Hay is the Head Teacher of Mongulu Primary and Elementary School where Meggy studies.

Mr. Sasobe Hay (right) with Mr. Dudilama, a teacher at another remote school in Mt. Bosavi, at an Education in Emergencies training of trainers course in Tari financed by Education Cannot Wait and facilitated by UNICEF in partnership with Save the Children. ©UNICEF/PNG/Dingi/2019
Mr. Sasobe Hay (right) with Mr. Dudilama, a teacher at another remote school in Mt. Bosavi, at an Education in Emergencies training of trainers course in Tari financed by Education Cannot Wait and facilitated by UNICEF in partnership with Save the Children. ©UNICEF/PNG/Dingi/2019

“Almost half of the school stayed away after the earthquake, just three weeks into the school year. Some students said they didn’t have any food as their parents were traumatized and too scared to go to the kitchen gardens. Creeks and rivers were dirty and muddy, and we couldn’t fetch water to drink and wash,” says Hay.

Precious kitchen gardens were trampled by pigs and wild animals, because the earthquake had destroyed the fences protecting them.

“Shortage of food and fear were the main things that affected children,” Hay says. “We couldn’t harvest any food. And with people scared to plant new gardens, people were getting hungry. When we started school, we could see that children had lost weight. We didn’t have enough food to eat but we’re slowing building back.”

A COORDINATED RESPONSE

A year on, Meggy and her classmates in Elementary 1 giggle excitedly as they open their new school backpacks provided by UNICEF through an Education Cannot Wait-financed first emergency response. They are filled with supplies such as pencils and exercise books, resources that many have never had before – stationery is hard to come by in Mongulu, which has no shops, and some children have never even been outside the area.

Getting the backpacks to Mongulu so that the children could resume learning was a logistical challenge. There is still no road access to the whole of the Bosavi area, and Tari, the nearest town, is a three- or four-day walk through the forest. Through the Education Cannot Wait investment, UNICEF worked closely with the Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea, Hela Provincial Division of Education and missionaries based in Mongulu, and a plane was chartered for the 20-minute flight to deliver supplies from Tari to Mongulu. By the end of March 2019, Education in Emergency kits containing essentials such blackboard paint and chalk, as well as 523 students kits and 15 teachers kits had been delivered to Mongulu Elementary and Primary Schools alone.

The investment is having lasting results for the girls and boys impacted by the earthquake. With Education Cannot Wait support, UNICEF delivered a total of 1,126 students kits, 43 teachers kits, Education in Emergency kits and tents to three schools in the remote Mt. Bosavi area. UNICEF also provided training on Education in Emergencies, attended by hundreds of teachers, including Meggy’s Head Teacher, Sasobe Hay.

Meggy and her classmates are excited about going back to school. Through the coordinated response, they have a chance to begin learning again and establish a degree of normality in their young lives.

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.

LINKS

PHOTOS

Papua New Guinea - Bosavi

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ALLOCATES US$7 MILLION TO SUPPORT EDUCATIONAL RESPONSES IN COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY THE VENEZUELA CRISIS

On 25 April 2019 in Cucuta, Colombia, Venezuelan children wait in the queue at the migration center. There remains a US$50 million funding gap for the educational response in the countries supported through these grants, according to in-country partners. © UNICEF/ Arcos

FUNDS WILL BENEFIT 84,500 CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, ECUADOR AND PERU

4 June 2019, New York – In a coordinated response to the Venezuela regional crisis, Education Cannot Wait announced today a US$7 million allocation to support first emergency response grants in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

The grants will focus primarily on out-of-school children and adolescents from Venezuela and host-communities to get them back in protective, quality learning environments. In all, some 84,500 children and youth, including 42,600 girls, will benefit from the fast-acting investment.

“Children and youth who are uprooted and forced to flee are haunted by fears and uncertainty. They do not lose their right to education because they are on the move, but they will lose their hope and opportunities without education. Education provides a sense of stability, protection and hope to turn around their lives and positively impact the region. The ECW catalytic investment will, however, require additional funding for education that matches the immense need and hospitality shown by host-countries in the region,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for education in emergencies hosted by UNICEF that seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to reach close to 9 million children living in crisis.

The Venezuela crisis has displaced 3.7 million people, with an estimated 1.2 million children and youth affected in the four countries that will benefit from the grant. On average 50 per cent of the refugee and migrant children from Venezuela are not enrolled in formal schooling across the four countries.

While schools in these countries are generally well-resourced, the influx of children is pushing local coping mechanisms and resources to their breaking points. In this volatile and complex context, children – especially girls – are at greater risk of gender-based violence, child labor, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

The Education Cannot Wait allocation aligns with the regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan led by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), for which there is a US$50 million funding gap for the educational response in these countries, according to in-country partners.

Education Cannot Wait’s allocation accounts for 14 per cent of this total funding gap and adds to the US$4.6 million already committed by other donors to respond to educational needs.

The funds will help sustain, rehabilitate and establish temporary learning spaces, facilitate access to formal education, support local education authorities in absorbing new students, create community-based back-to-learning campaigns, promote gender-equality and inclusion, and provide learning and teaching materials. Teachers and education professionals will also be trained to provide support to children living in such a volatile context.

On a regional level, the funds will improve coordination and cross-country collaboration and the monitoring of activities across the four countries. It will also strengthen the availability of data to facilitate policy dialogue to ensure the inclusion of children in national education systems.

The funding from Education Cannot Wait will be implemented by a wide range of international and national partners. It will be managed through four main grantees at the country level: in Brazil by UNICEF (US$749,000), in Colombia by Save the Children (US$2.6 million), in Ecuador by UNICEF (US$1.9 million), and in Peru by Refugee Education Trust (US$1.2 million). In addition, UNICEF will manage the US$376,000 allocation for regional support.

On 25 April 2019 in Cucuta, Colombia, Venezuelan children play at the UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space. © UNICEF/ Arcos

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT APPROVES US$1 MILLION ALLOCATION TO SUPPORT EDUCATION SERVICES FOR 77,000 CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CYCLONE IDAI IN MALAWI

Malawi
Photo UNICEF Malawi

GRANTS WILL BE IMPLEMENTED BY UNICEF, WORLD VISION, SAVE THE CHILDREN AND THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME (WFP)

2 May 2019, New York – In response to the urgent needs of children impacted by Cyclone Idai to access safe learning environments and psychosocial support, Education Cannot Wait and its partners announced a US$1 million grant to support over 77,000 children in 174 schools in Malawi, including close to 33,000 girls in the five most affected districts of Chikwawa, Mulanje, Nsanje, Phalombe and Zomba.

The emergency response will support relief efforts to immediately establish temporary learning spaces, deliver early childhood development kits, school-in-a-box learning materials, recreation materials and textbooks to schools damaged in the floods. It will also support school feeding programmes for 32,000 children receiving nutrition while in school.

Cyclone Idai exacerbated the impact of previous flooding in Malawi, which had initially damaged schools and disrupted learning for over 1,000 children in Chikwawa District prior to the declaration of the national disaster. According to the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) data and the latest post disaster needs assessment, Cyclone Idai has affected close to 500,000 primary school learners (half of whom are girls) nationwide, with some 400 primary schools impacted. Younger children were also affected, with over 41,000 children impacted in 424 Early Childhood Development Centres.

A sudden disaster severely disrupts the daily lives of children and makes them more vulnerable. The longer a child’s education is interrupted, the less likely the child is to return to school and continued learning. Many children may resort to earning a living or be exposed to protection threats. Girls are especially vulnerable to child marriages and gender-based violence in disaster zones. Girls and boys also face higher risks of exploitation, child trafficking, abduction and forced recruitment into armed groups.

The response is coordinated on the national level through the Ministry of Education and the Education Cluster. This allocation will be implemented by UNICEF (US$394,000 grant), World Vision (US$198,000 grant), Save the Children (US$137,000 grant) and the World Food Programme (US$270,000 grant).

The synergistic response complements the ongoing efforts being undertaken by clusters focused on shelter, health, protection and water.

Women and children, especially adolescent girls, who are victims of any form of abuse including sexual violence, emotional, economic and physical abuse, will be referred for psychosocial support and counseling through the investment. The provision of handwashing facilities and menstrual hygiene kits for adolescent girls complements the efforts by the WASH cluster.

This $1 million allocation is part of the total $14 million commitment from Education Cannot Wait and its partners to support a rapid educational response to cyclone Idai in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT APPROVES US$1 MILLION FIRST EMERGENCY RESPONSE TO SUPPORT 55,000 CHILDREN IMPACTED BY CYCLONE IDAI IN ZIMBABWE

Flood affected children in Chimanimani. © UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Mukwazhi
Flood affected children in Chimanimani. © UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Mukwazhi

UNICEF, CARE, PLAN INTERNATIONAL, SAVE THE CHILDREN AND WORLD VISION TO IMPLEMENT EDUCATIONAL RESPONSE

30 April 2019, New York – As part of its ongoing commitment to support children whose lives have been ripped apart by Cyclone Idai, Education Cannot Wait approved a US$1 million grant that will help quickly restore education services for 55,000 children in Zimbabwe, including 27,000 girls.

The 12-month grant will establish safe learning spaces, provide teachers and students with learning materials, and train educators to provide the psychosocial support required to help children recover and rebuild after the catastrophic floods and destruction that affected some 270,000 people in the country, including 129,600 children.

According to recent reports, 139 schools have been impacted by the cyclone, affecting 90,000 students. The displacement of people also underscores the widespread disruption of learning, with some teachers and children being temporarily housed in collective centres or camp like settings. Loss of life, injury, disappearance of family members, and the trauma and distress associated with the uncertainty and risk that goes with an emergency like this, is impacting the ability to re-establish learning as a normal part of community activity. Even where communities are able to return to their homes when water subsides, the levels of trauma and distress are preventing the resumption of classes.

Evidence shows that children who are out of school for prolonged periods of time after a disaster are increasingly less likely to ever return to the classroom. For girls, there is an increased risk of this prolonged absence leading to early marriage.  In the chaos caused by a natural disaster of this magnitude, children are always at greater risk of exploitation, including sexual abuse and trafficking. Older girls are also more likely to be held back from school to help with chores in an emergency situation.

The new investment will help get children back in safe learning environments as soon as possible. It will be implemented by UNICEF (US$113,000 grant), CARE (US$100,000 grant), Plan International (US$225,000 grant), Save the Children (US$281,000 grant) and World Vision (US$281,000 grant).

By coordinating the response through the existing Education Cluster in Zimbabwe, the investment links with broader aid coordination structures. According to the Cluster, to date, close to US$1.5 million has been received for the education humanitarian response in Zimbabwe, with a US$6.6 million gap remaining.

Education Cannot Wait and its partners have committed a total of US$14 million to the educational response in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe further to devastation caused by  Cyclone Idai.

FROM THE BRUTALITY OF WAR

Janet
“I want to serve and save the lives of my people.” – Janet. Photo War Child Canada.

STORIES FROM THE FIELD

War Child Canada shares the story of Janet, who lost her father to war in South Sudan. With support from a Education Cannot Wait First Emergency Response in Uganda, Janet is finding new hope for the future.

Special Contribution from War Child Canada

When war reaches children like Janet, they are forced to ‘grow up’ quickly. For Janet, that moment came in 2015 when her father was killed during the war in South Sudan. She was 12 at the time.

The following year, she fled to Uganda with her mother – a harrowing and dangerous journey for anyone to take, especially for a young teenager.

When she finally arrived in Uganda, she was relieved to feel safer but she faced new problems. Her mother was ill, they had no income and she was worried about how she and her mother would survive. She was in a different country and she didn’t know anyone apart from those who had fled with her.

Like many girls her age faced with similar pressures, Janet decided that the quickest and most effective way to pull herself and her mother out of extreme poverty was to get married.

“I decided to get married at the end of 2016,” she told us. “I now have a baby boy who is seven months old. However, when the man [her husband] started mistreating me, I escaped and fled home.”

She was free from the abuse but she now found herself in an even more precarious situation: back where she started, but with a baby to look after as well.

One day, Janet’s mother attended a community meeting organized by War Child Canada through the Education Cannot Wait First Emergency Response. The meeting was to bring awareness to the community about War Child’s Accelerated Education Programme. After the meeting, Janet’s mother went to her daughter and encouraged her to resume her education.

Janet didn’t need much convincing—the programme was free so she could see no reason not to grasp this golden opportunity.

Since Janet enrolled in the programme, school has become her second home.

“When I was accepted by the programme, I felt so good and was the happiest girl!”

Even her young son is not a barrier to her education. The programme recognizes that young mothers are just as deserving of an education as anyone else. When she shows up to school with her son on her back, she is greeted with a warm welcome rather than a raised brow.

“Mothers like me are treated with respect, by both learners and teachers.”

For Janet, War Child’s Accelerated Education Programme does more than provide her with education and an opportunity to pursue skilled work. While at school, she can connect with other girls her age who can really identify with everything Janet’s been through.

She tells us that she likes going to school because “I have my friends my age who have similar problems to me. This has given me an opportunity to share experiences with them and I feel very comfortable.”

Janet encourages War Child to continue to raise awareness among the community about the importance of education, especially for girls.

“Girls are often seen as a source of wealth,” she says. “They are often married when they are still school children.”

When asked what she will do with her education, Janet responded: “I want to become a nurse after finishing school. I want to serve and save the lives of my people.”

Janet is a shining example of what kind of impact can be made when we invest in girls who have experienced the brutality of war. She is a community leader in the making and we are humbled by her hard work and determination to make a better life for herself, her family, and her community.

Learn More

  • Education Cannot Wait provided a US$3.3 million First Emergency Response allocation in 2017 to several partners in Uganda in order to respond to urgent education needs connected with the refugee crisis.
  • To reach all the refugee children living in the country, Education Cannot Wait facilitated the development of a 3.5-year Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities in Uganda, contributing US$11 million in seed funding to support the launch of the plan. The comprehensive plan looks to raise a total of US$389 million in total contributions to reach more than 560,000 refugee and host community children and youth. Girls and children with disabilities will be especially targeted in the response.
  • Children of Hope
  • Connecting People with Technology in Partnership with HP

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.