This window responds to the most immediate and urgent needs at the outset of crisis or when it escalates. It provides rapid funding against proposals that are coordinated among humanitarian organizations on the ground and is aligned with humanitarian funding appeals such as Flash Appeals and Humanitarian Response Plans.
Investments are delivered within weeks of the declaration of the emergency, following the approval of a proposal submitted to Education Cannot Wait by the relevant humanitarian coordination mechanism
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.
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.
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.
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.
SAVE THE CHILDREN, WORLD VISION, FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY, AVSI AND PLAN INTERNATIONAL ACTIVATE FIRST EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN COORDINATION WITH GOVERNMENT OF MOZAMBIQUE
23 April 2019, New York – Just five weeks after Cyclone Idai hit the coast of Southern Africa, Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for education in emergencies, has approved US$5 million for immediate relief in Mozambique to get children back in school.
Recent estimates from the Government of Mozambique indicate that 3,504 classrooms were either destroyed or damaged in Mozambique, disrupting the education of more than 335,000 girls and boys.
Working with the Government of Mozambique in a coordinated response with international and national NGOs, UN Agencies, civil society and donors, the ECW investment will reach the most vulnerable children in Mozambique and keep girls safe from the heightened risk of gender-based violence that frequently occurs in emergencies.
The ECW response will reach 75,000 children, including 36,000 girls. Over 1,900 education personnel will receive specialized training to ensure children have the psychosocial support they need to resume their lives and deal with the trauma of seeing family members die, losing their homes in the floods or being displaced, and living in dangerous and unsafe conditions in temporary shelters.
In getting children back in safe learning environments, implementing partners will establish temporary learning spaces, provide roofing for classrooms, and provide children and communities with life-saving information on hygiene to reduce the spread of disease.
ECW is working with partners to prepare an additional investment in Mozambique, as well as in neighboring Malawi and Zimbabwe, where the cyclone also caused serious damage.
Education Cannot Wait and its partners have committed a total of US$14 million to the educational response in the three countries to reach approximately half a million children in all.
The fast-acting response was made possible with the generous support of ECW’s donor partners, including DFID, Dubai Cares, and the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, who announced supplemental support to Education Cannot Wait’s US$7 million grant on the margins of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meeting.
DFID, DUBAI CARES AND EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT COME TOGETHER TO DELIVER EMERGENCY EDUCATION RESPONSES TO MORE THAN 500,000 CHILDREN AND YOUTH
DFID, DUBAI CARES AND EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT COME TOGETHER TO DELIVER EMERGENCY EDUCATION RESPONSES TO MORE THAN 500,000 CHILDREN AND YOUTH
11 April 2019, Washington – Education Cannot Wait, the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) and Dubai Cares announced today new commitments of up to US$14 million in funds to support educational responses in the wake of the devastation from Cyclone Idai, which caused widespread destruction and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Out of the total allocation, the Education Cannot Wait Global Trust Fund is providing US$7 million from its emergency reserve, DFID is providing up to US$5.2 million (4 million pounds) and Dubai Cares is providing US$2 million against the emergency education response facilitated by Education Cannot Wait and coordinated by the Education Cluster.
The funds will help restore education services for an estimated total of 500,000 children and youth.
With entire communities uprooted, missing or deceased caregivers, and schools destroyed or being used as temporary shelters, children across the cyclone-affected countries have had their education disrupted and are instead grappling with trauma. They are also vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence, and face the risk of cholera, among other scourges.
In Mozambique alone, the disaster has affected 1.8 million people and destroyed over 3,300 classrooms, leaving 263,000 children out-of-school. In Zimbabwe, close to 150 schools have been impacted, affecting an estimated 60,000 children. In Malawi, an estimated 200 schools have been impacted.
“We have all seen images of the terrible suffering and devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. The UK has, from the start, led the way in supporting the victims of this destruction and the fresh funding I am announcing will provide further help where it is most needed, right now,” said DFID’s Secretary of State, Penny Mordaunt.
The First Emergency Responses in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe will focus on supporting needs assessments, establishing temporary learning spaces, providing learning materials, supporting communities to get children back to school, giving teachers the tools, training and support they need to provide psycho-social support for the children in their care, and supporting governments to build back better.
“The loss of life, destruction and suffering that has resulted from Cyclone Idai is heartbreaking. Children, the most vulnerable victims of any disaster, are at the moment facing tremendous distress and uncertainty. Our partnership with Education Cannot Wait, allows us to quickly respond to this emergency and help reestablish access to education,” said Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares.
Funds will be allocated against the emergency appeals launched by the governments of the affected-countries with the support of United Nations agencies and NGOs providing relief on the ground.
“A sudden and unexpected natural disaster of this magnitude causes immense human suffering. It demands an immediate response. For a child or adolescent, the losses are especially devastating,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Unless education services are given priority, the suffering will be prolonged and cause deeper disruption and trauma in their lives. I am deeply grateful to DFID and Dubai Cares for setting a shining example: they moved swiftly together with ECW to provide a coordinated and speedy response in partnership with Ministries of Education, the affected communities, the Education Cluster, UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations to reduce suffering and restore hope when these children and youth need it the most.”
IN SYRIA, INNOVATIVE NEW APPROACHES GET CHILDREN BACK TO SCHOOL, BACK TO THE SAFETY AND PROMISE OF AN EDUCATION, AND BACK ON TRACK FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE
IN SYRIA, INNOVATIVE NEW APPROACHES GET CHILDREN BACK TO SCHOOL, BACK TO THE SAFETY AND PROMISE OF AN EDUCATION, AND BACK ON TRACK FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE
Conflict is ripping Syria apart. It’s taking lives, uprooting families and leaving millions of girls and boys behind.
Efforts are underway to get these children back to learning. With the financial support of Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for education in crisis hosted by UNICEF, a broad coalition of frontlines heroes, international partners and donors are joining forces to address the pressing humanitarian crisis that has left 2.1 million children out of school and 1.3 million at risk of dropping out.
HOPE FOR MORNING STAR
The children of Syria’s conflict have faces and names. One of these children is a bright 10-year-old boy named Tarek. The name means ‘Morning Star,’ a thoughtful designation in a place where dreams have been shattered for an entire generation.
Tarek has lived his life surrounded by conflict and violence. The boy who loved math and was an outgoing child when he was young, comes from the Al-Waer neighbourhood in the historic city of Homs, an area heavily affected by violence.
When he was six, a bullet ripped through Tarek’s room while he was sleeping. The trauma – and the unspeakable horror of seeing his father injured and losing other family members – left Tarek with a speech impediment.
Without support, Tarek likely would have fallen through the cracks.
“I did not have any friends and other children were making fun of me because of stuttering,” said Tarek. “I was always at home alone.”
With support from a 2-year US$15 million Education Cannot Wait initial investment launched in 2017, UNICEF partnered with international and local NGOs to create an educational programme to get children like Tarek back to learning.
In all, some 75,693 children have already been reached with back-to-learning campaigns. The programme reinforces the value of education and has provided psychosocial support for children like Tarek to get back on track.
Tarek enrolled in catch-up classes in math, Arabic and English, and is also attending group and private counseling sessions with the school’s counselor, Miss Nour. The counselor worked with Tarek to improve his self-esteem and decrease his anxiety, which sometimes made it difficult for Tarek to see the difference between dreams and reality.
“[The counseling sessions] were one of the things I loved the most [about the programme],” said Tarek.
The boy now has “a lot of friends” and is excelling in his math studies.
Mohammad is another victim of this senseless conflict that risked falling behind. He was forced to flee from his home town of Hama when he was just nine. Now 14, the highly gifted boy was seeing his grades slip.
“I used to be in the first place in my classes from grade 1 to grade 6, but changing residence had affected me,” said Mohammad.
With their home in Hama totally destroyed, Mohammad’s parents have limited resources to pay for school tuition. Determined to “make up the gap” anyway, Mohammad began studying during the night to regain his grades, and signed up for a remedial education programme sponsored through the Education Cannot Wait initial investment.
“The timing of remedial classes was perfect as it prepared us to start formal school,” said Mohammad. During the programme, catch-up classes in core subjects were combined with group activities and counseling sessions to bolster students’ psychological wellbeing and teach study skills.
With this much-needed support, Mohammad significantly improved his grades, especially in English and French. He is now placed second in his class and has hatched plans to become a doctor one day. “This year, I’m trying hard to get full marks.”
LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND
Due to renewed violence, 1.6 million people were displaced across Syria, with close to half a million people displaced in Northwest Syria in the first six months of 2018, including an estimated 150,000 children. Across Northeast Syria during 2018, 80,817 people were displaced, including 25,295 school-aged children.
The first response investment was in response to the 2017 displacement crisis across the north of Syria, which is being exacerbated by the continued flow of Internally Displaced People into the area. To respond to the escalation of the crisis in these areas, Education Cannot Wait announced a 12-month US$3 million First Emergency Response allocation to meet the most pressing needs and build on the Fund’s initial investment.
The ongoing crisis means teachers aren’t getting paid, and girls and children with disabilities face additional barriers to go to school.
Thanks to the First Emergency Response, 202 teachers have already received incentives to teach, with plans to reach a total of 600 by the end of the programme. Schools have received heaters and fuel to keep children warm during the bitterly cold winter months. Girls and boys are being transported to school, including children with disabilities.
The needs are still great. As the investment scales-up and accelerates its support, 41 schools will be rehabilitated including 430 classrooms, 500 teachers will receive advanced training and 20,000 children will receive learning materials including textbooks.
For displaced girls like seven-year-old Hala, the combination of counseling, remedial classes, and new learning opportunities means hope for a brighter future. Hala was out of school for an entire year. Now she’s back to learning and is one of the best students in her class.
“I love school more than my home. Here, I play with my friends. I study and learn Arabic, English and math. I have a dream of becoming a doctor so that I can treat children,” said Hala.
TWO YEARS AFTER A SERIES OF CYCLONES DEVASTATED MADAGASCAR, WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED THANKS TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT’S EMERGENCY SUPPORT?
TWO YEARS AFTER A SERIES OF CYCLONES DEVASTATED MADAGASCAR, WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED THANKS TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT’S EMERGENCY SUPPORT?
When disaster strikes, children are the ones that lose out the most.
In March of 2017, Cyclone Enawo hit the coast of Madagascar with gale-force winds that gusted up to 180 miles an hour. The destruction displaced some 240,000 people, and the damage to school infrastructure was unprecedented. Over 3,900 classrooms were damaged, with 2,300 totally destroyed. The devastation in Enawo’s wake left over 120,000 children without a safe space to learn.
“Our two classrooms were destroyed to the ground and we could not go to class for two months. We were unhappy but there was nothing we could do,” said Faniriantsoa, a young girl who was ready to complete her last year of primary school before her life and her future were interrupted.
As a result of climate change, the world is seeing an increase in severe weather like cyclones, droughts and floods. When these life-changing events hit, families struggle to access food and water. For girls like Faniriantsoa, risks of gender-based violence increase, and without access to the relative safety and stability of schools, young lives are put in limbo.
To respond to the crisis, Education Cannot Wait – a global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises that seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to reach 8.9 million children – invested US$400,000 in a fast-acting 12-month programme in the Sava Region of Madagascar. The programme closely aligned with the Flash Appeal issued by the Government and humanitarian organisations after the cyclone, and was implemented on the ground by UNICEF, UNESCO and the Regional Education Authorities.
The Sava region was the hardest-hit part of the country. In all, 80 per cent of the children affected by the hurricane were from here, and close to 60 per cent of the classrooms here were completely destroyed by the cyclone.
Rachel Razafindrabetrema is a preschool teacher and the founder of the Andamoty school in the Sava Region. Her school was completely devasted by the cyclone. With funding from Education Cannot Wait, the school now has four working classrooms – complete with school tables and learning materials – that caters to students from pre-school to Grade 5.
“Before, children were sitting on stones or stumps. Now they are more comfortable. Our school has become very attractive and parents are happy to send their children to school because the learning conditions are better. The number of students has continued to grow. In 2017 and 2018 we had only 100 students. In the 2018-2019 school year, our number of students is 500,” said Razafindrabetrema.
At the close of the investment, in August 2018, the programme had helped over 54,000 pre-school, primary and lower secondary students to access temporary learning environments. The investment also rehabilitated 110 classrooms. Special efforts were made to bring school materials, tents and school-in-a-box kits to hard-to-reach places. According to UNICEF, some goods were transported 5 hours by boat before being carried on foot another 2 to 3 hours to reach children living in remote or cut-off locations.
RESILIENCE BEFORE THE STORM
The programme also aimed at insulating the children and families of Madagascar from future risks and ‘building back better.’ As part of the long-term investment in disaster-risk reduction, UNICEF was able to replenish pre-positioned supplies to prepare for more cyclones. In January 2018, when Cyclone Ava hit Madagascar, the humanitarian organizations in-country had tarpaulins, recreation kits and school-in-a-box kits ready to quickly help the 48,000 children across 14 regions whose education was interrupted by the hard-hitting cyclone.
With the support of Education Cannot Wait’s investment, and the broad coalition of implementing partners that made it happen, Faniriantsoa is back in school.
“We received books, notebooks, pencils, balloons and jumping ropes to play and restart our studies,” said Faniriantsoa. “For me, being able to continue my studies is very important so I can acquire the necessary knowledge to go very far in life.”
Story by Liva Ratsambizafy, Education Emergency Specialist, UNICEF Madagascar, with Greg Benchwick, Education Cannot Wait.
WITH SUPPORT FROM EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, TEACHERS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA ARE HELPING CHILDREN TO RECOVER FROM THE TRAUMA OF THE 2018 EARTHQUAKE WITH TEMPORARY LEARNING SPACES, GENDER-SENSITIVE APPROACHES AND NEW TRAININGS TO DEAL WITH THE CHALLENGING TIMES AHEAD
Ms. Julie James Rodney, the teacher in charge of the Injua II Elementary School in Papua New Guinea’s remote and wild Kutubu District describes living through the horrors of the February 2018 earthquake and its aftershocks as “the longest night.”
During that long night, children of Rodney’s school lost everything: their homes were shattered, and their school was destroyed, profoundly wounding the young hearts and minds. In the wake of the disaster, many families struggled to get enough to eat or drink and returning to school seemed like a far-fetched dream for many.
In all, some 127,000 people required emergency humanitarian assistance after the quake. Half of the schools in the affected area were partially damaged with three totally destroyed. Student attendance dropped drastically. As a consequence of the quake, lawlessness and tribal violence spiked, further increasing the vulnerability of people. Girls and women in particular face increased risks of gender-based violence. This affects the academic and social development of girls and boys in the region, putting their futures in jeopardy.
FROM THE FOUNDATIONS UP
Rodney lives with her husband and three daughters in the school grounds where she teaches. In the morning they assessed the damage from the quake, finding the roof of her home blown away, the foundation of the school building ripped apart, and collapsed buildings and destruction everywhere.
“People’s houses were flattened to the ground and covered in debris. It was a miracle that no one in my village was killed. We still feel the tremors and they send chills down my spine. We are still so anxious that this thing – or something worse – will happen again,” said Rodney. “It was difficult to get the children back into a school routine because they were deeply traumatized. They found it difficult to concentrate and worst of all they would react to any noise or bang and run out of the classroom shouting ‘earthquake.’ They are still scared, and we have not been able to fully re-establish their routine or make them feel safe again. It’s a long process.”
Rodney and hundreds of other teachers like her are receiving support from a fast-acting US$1.5 million emergency response allocation from Education Cannot Wait. Coordinated by UNICEF, the programme is implemented on the ground by trusted local and international partners that include the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, the Catholic Diocese of Mendi, The Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea and Save the Children.
The programme was designed to get children back in school, to establish temporary learning spaces, and to support these communities in building back better after the quake.
To build community buy-in and ownership, community leaders, school boards of management, church leaders and provincial and district education office representatives were consulted and involved in the programme from the start and included in ongoing school monitoring visits. Children and youth were actively involved in both the design phase and in selecting sites for water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Hygiene clubs have encouraged children to improve handwashing practices. Parents and community members are being engaged on multiple levels to encourage school attendance.
The programme has made great progress in its first six months (as reported in October 2018): close to 3,000 girls and 3,900 boys were enrolled in safe temporary learning spaces, and more than 7,000 children (43 per cent girls) accessed psychosocial first aid services and were trained on how to best prepare to face such disasters. Training workshops for teachers like Rodney were also provided so they can help children cope with their trauma.
PUTTING GIRLS FIRST
Even before the quake, Papua New Guinea had alarming rates of insecurity and gender-based violence. Two out of three women have suffered from some sort of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, while over 40 per cent of men have admitted to raping someone (ODI, 2015). To help address this, ECW’s investment focused on supporting the safety of girls and gender equality. Gender-sensitive facilities where both girls and boys have access to toilets and sanitation facilities and services in schools were designed. This includes provisions to allow girls to manage menstrual hygiene with dignity. In addition, gender topics were included in the training workshops to raise awareness on how disasters exacerbate gender inequalities and gender-based violence and how to foster a more protective environment.
Rodney was one of the teachers that received advanced training from UNICEF in close collaboration with Save the Children through the programme.
“These resources will help us to start teaching again – properly. The children will be so excited to see the [new] resources,” said Rodney.
Story by UNICEF Papua New Guinea, with Greg Benchwick, Education Cannot Wait
RESPONDING TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND A FIERCE EL NIÑO THAT DEVASTATED PORTIONS OF NORTHERN PERU, EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND UNESCO WORK TO GET CHILDREN BACK TO SCHOOL AND REDUCE FUTURE RISKS
When Peru suffered unprecedented damage from floods and mudslides induced by the El Niño phenomenon in 2017, Education Cannot Wait sprang into action to fund a rapid response to restore educational services for affected children.
In all, 162 people died in the disaster and over 66,000 homes were destroyed, leaving a quarter of a million men, women and children homeless. The Piura Region in Northern Peru was especially hard hit. Around 100,000 people were made homeless, and the education of an estimated 37,000 children was interrupted as their classrooms were destroyed.
Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crisis, allocated a fast-acting US$250,000 grant to UNESCO that was implemented in coordination and close collaboration with the Government of Peru,UNICEF and other frontline agencies to build new schools and get children back in the classroom.
The grant helped build prefabricated classrooms in nine schools. In addition, gender-segregated bathrooms were built to ensure a better protection for girls in the precarious environments that often follow natural disasters of this magnitude.
Beyond this immediate response to restore infrastructures, Education Cannot Wait also supported efforts to “build back better.” This meant helping to develop the response plans necessary to insulate children from future risks.
This was done through 27 workshops organized to map community risks, especially around schools, create family emergency plans, and build improved disaster and risk management plans, strategies and frameworks.
The family emergency plans helped households to identify better housing materials, reduce risks, identify hazards, and protect children when disaster strikes.
With the new school facilities in place, some 590 students were able to return to school, including 288 girls. The project closed in September 2018 but has had a lasting impact.
Climate change is affecting educational outcomes the world over – and putting children at ever greater risk.
Rising seas, more extreme weather, drought, floods and rising temperatures push resources, economies and livelihoods to the edge. Farmers in poor countries are seeing decreasing yields and are struggling to adapt. Nations are seeing vast economic impacts that are syphoning off resources. And families are struggling to find the resources they need to send children to school, feed children healthy meals, and save money for the future.
With more frequent and severe risks from sea-level rise, stronger and more intense hurricanes and other natural disasters, the world’s most vulnerable children face ever-increasing risks. This will make it harder to reach global goals of achieving universal and equitable education by 2030 as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The economic returns for investing in education in emergencies are significant. For each dollar invested in education, more than US$5 is returned in additional gross earnings in low-income countries and US$2.50 in lower middle-income countries.
In the same way, investments in disaster risk reduction also have similar benefits, with recent World Bank reports indicated that risks from climate change, of which natural disasters are a core component, could cost up to 20 per cent of GDP.
Education Cannot Wait’s modalities, designed to link emergency relief and development efforts are well placed to support disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness from the onset of responses through to recovery.
In the end, the goal is not just to get children back in school, but to also insulate these communities from future shocks to build a brighter future for generations to come.
SURVIVING ATTACKS AND GUNFIRE A ROHINGYA GIRL FINDS NEW HOPE THROUGH EDUCATION
Janat Ara is a survivor. She’s a dreamer. She’s a unique symbol of hope and resilience in a world gone mad.
In her short 12-year life, the Rohingya refugee has lost both her parents. She’s hidden in the woods for 15 days to escape bandits that were reportedly threatening to rape and abduct young girls in her native Myanmar. She’s been attacked by gunfire.
Around 725,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since the ethnic violence, which some have labeled a crime against humanity, started in August 2017. The new arrivals and asylum seekers are putting a strain on local communities and resources and around 1.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance today. An estimated 54 per cent of these refugees are under 18. That means close to 400,000 children are nationless, lack consistent access to education, and live in makeshift, overcrowded camps in the Cox’s Bazaar district of Bangladesh.
While much work is being done to protect these children by both the government of Bangladesh as well as international donor agencies, local non-profits and the United Nations System, the camps are still a dangerous place. Girls are particularly at risk to sexual exploitation and gender-based violence. And malnutrition, disease and unsafe water pose health risks for children and adults alike.
A SENSE OF HOPE
Out of this chaos, a sense of hope and redemption is emerging for children like Janat Ara. It all starts in the new learning centers where children receive daily instruction through an investment backed by Education Cannot Wait and implemented through UNICEF, Save the Children, Friendship and BRAC.
“I love the learning center. I have been through a lot back in Myanmar. When we learn and play here, I feel peace in my heart, and forget what has happened to me,” said Janat Ara (whose name has been changed for her own protection). “When I grow up, I want to work at an NGO or at the hospital. My teacher also said that he sees that I could become a teacher. He has suggested that I maybe can join an NGO when I am older, to teach other children Burmese.”
The first educational emergency response is making a real difference for the 400,000 Rohingya children and youth and host community children that have been impacted by this crisis, exceeding most targets by 200 per cent.
In all, the fast-acting 12-month Education for Children of Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities in Cox’s Bazar investment has built more than 270 learning centers to date, and is on track to complete an additional 50 more to reach investment targets. According to the latest reports (December 2018), over 25,000 refugee children aged 4 to 14 have received access to safe and protective learning environments – that is three times more than the number of children initially targeted by the project. Additionally, more than 270 sets of early childhood development and school-in-a-box kits have been shared.
The investment embraced innovative and flexible learning models to mobilize fast education responses, including using podcasts and video conferences to train teachers in the camps. Along with other innovative measures, this enabled more children and youth to be reached than originally planned.
Community involvement is key in a complex context like the Rohingya crisis. To encourage involvement from parents and community members, outreach activities have reached close to 20,00 people with important messages advocating for school enrollment, hygiene and sanitation, and the importance of a safe learning environment for children and youth.
Girls and children with disabilities often fall behind in crisis situations like this. More than 50 percent of the students enrolled since the beginning of the project are girls. Total access to education for girls and adolescent girls reached more than 12,800 girls, that is nearly three times more than the original number targeted by the programme. To encourage enrollment and retention of girls, the recruitment and training of female teachers has been highly encouraged. In all some 546 teachers have been trained through the investment, over 85 per cent of whom are female. The project has also identified 620 children with disabilities in these camps with the aim to reach at least 95% of them by June 2019.
Janat Ara’s Aunt Halima has taken on the responsibility of caring for the young dreamer and her sister.
“We came here in March 2018. Even after the outbreak of violence we tried to stay. But then armed groups started tormenting us. They wouldn’t let us go out at night. They started taking away girls and young women, and raping and killing them. When the threats become too much to bear, all of us in our village decided that we would come to Bangladesh,” said Halima. “I worry a lot about Janat Ara, because she doesn’t have parents. The children had nothing to do when we arrived, and I thought – if Allah brought these children to me, then there must be something special about them. So, I registered them into the learning center.”
Since starting school Janat Ara has made new friends, started learning English and is finding a “new normal” after enduring a perilous and traumatic journey. Her Aunt reports that “she has changed a lot since being here and she seems happy now.”
Humanitarian crisis like this need more than one-off responses. Working with the Government of Bangladesh, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNHCR, Education Cannot Wait launched a new US$12 million grant in November 2018 to benefit an additional 88,500 refugee and host community children and adolescents. With efforts to mobilize resources from multiple partners and donors, the multi-year grant will connect with other initiatives to reach more than half a million refugee and host community and youth, and 9800 teachers over the coming years.
With continued support, class sizes are going down, and students will benefit from more time with more highly trained teachers in the learning centers. As new learning centers are built and reorganized, student contact time will increase from two to four hours, and class sizes will drop from 105 students per learning center to around 80.
It’s a powerful step forward for girls and boys caught in this cycle of violence, migration, crisis and fear. For Janat Ara and others like her, more needs to be done, and Education Cannot Wait is working to bring multiple partners to work together towards a lasting solution to protect these children, provide them an education, and a safer path to become productive and essential members of society. Through stronger partnerships and collaboration, we can address this pressing crisis.
IN SOMALIA, EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND INTERSOS LOOK TOWARD SAFE DRINKING WATER AND SCHOOL MEALS TO GET CHILDREN BACK IN SCHOOL
Nadifa Ibrahim picks up her hammer and strikes down on the chalk white stones at the quarry where she works with her family and other children displaced by Somalia’s years of civil war, drought and poverty. This seemingly un-ending crisis has displaced 1 million school-aged children and left an estimated 3.4 million girls and boys out of school.
Nadifa’s 12-year-old hands are hardly big enough to hold the hammer – and she makes less per day than the bigger boys and adults who are able to smash bigger stones – but in order to survive and support the family she needs to work.
Nadifa isn’t alone. Most of Somalia’s internally displaced children are out of school because they need to work to feed themselves and their families, or they need to spend a big chunk of their days fetching water or simply scavenging for food.
To make things even more complicated, these children living far from their homes face ever-increasing risks of child marriage, sexual assault and recruitment into armed groups.
These destabilizing forces are like a ticking time bomb that threatens the future of an entire generation.
Over the last year, violence and instability fueled a sharp increase in the number of displaced people in Baidoa District, where the majority of Somalia’s displacement camps are found. In the Diinsor District – largely controlled by the extremist group Al Shabaab – the situation is even more dire. There are no secondary schools and only two primary schools available to educate and protect the growing influx of displaced children. Food and safe drinking water are hard to come by, and 1.5 million people face acute food insecurity.
SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR COMPLEX CHALLENGES
Getting children like Nadifa out of the quarry and back in school requires a unique approach that looks not just at access to education, but also at the intersections of conflict, crises, poverty and hunger, and the root causes that force children into the quarries, into armed groups and out of school.
To reach these children, Education Cannot Wait partnered with the Italian humanitarian organization Intersos in a fast-acting 12-month first emergency educational response programme designed to expand access to quality education services for the children of the Baidoa and Diinsor Districts and enhance community coping mechanisms and resilience to crisis.
The project came to a close in August 2018, increasing school enrollment by 13 per cent for boys and 17 per cent for girls, and reaching 4787 children in all, 41% of whom were girls. In Somalia, fewer than 50 per cent of girls attend primary school, and the last countrywide survey from 2006 showed that only 25 per cent of women aged 15 to 24 were literate.
REVERSING THE CYCLE
Now there’s a chance to reverse this cycle, and Nadifa, and other children like her, are back in school, and no longer need to work in the quarry.
Mohamed Nur is an 11-year-old boy that worked in the quarry. His hands are blistered and aged from his time blasting rocks apart with a hammer. With support from the investment, Mohamed is back in school and has a brighter outlook on life.
“At least the pen is softer than the hammer,” the affable boy jokes. “I never ever want to go back to the quarry again, I felt bad seeing other children go to school, but there was nothing I could do.”
A MEAL PER DAY
Unlike many schools in Somalia, the schools for displaced children supported by Education Cannot Wait are free. Through the investment, the children also receive a warm, healthy meal each day – sometimes the only food they will get. The delivery of food is managed by the headmasters, to ensure food doesn’t go missing, and to provide an incentive to keep children in school.
The investment also set up innovative water and hygiene programmes that support healthier children and easier access to safe drinking water. Safe drinking water is being delivered in 13 schools through the investment. Project personnel indicate that three months after the project close, the water trucks, donkey carts, and permanent connections to water systems are still working. Hand-washing stations and girls-only latrines were also developed.
“Educating girls is educating a nation,” said Isaq Abdi Hussein, head teacher at the Warsan school for displaced children. “Many girls and boys were unable to attend school, due to poverty, but with the introduction of school feeding, the school enrolment has significantly improved.”
REVERSING THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
To deal with the scars of displacement and early childhood trauma, the children have access to improved psycho-social support from teachers that have received advance training through the programme and also receive a US$100 monthly stipend.
“These schools have saved the lives of many children. Their future was uncertain, and this is how they become vulnerable to abuse and bad elements in the community who enlist them in armed conflict. But now they are settled in school and this is also good for us as a community,” said Ibrahim Adan Ali, head teacher at the Al-Amin school.
KEEPING CHILDREN IN SCHOOL
To entice families to send their children to school, the investment created a “back to school” campaign that included community forums, home visits and sensitization on the value of education, especially for girls and children with special needs. Learning materials and books were also distributed, along with the introduction of other recreational activities designed to make learning fun and engaging.
Education stakeholders in Somalia are currently developing a multi-year resilience programme funding proposal for Education Cannot Wait. This programme will build on the success of this first emergency response and other Education Cannot Wait-funded investment and ensure that gains made so far are not lost.
Nadifa dreams of taking her new chance at an education and paying it forward.
“I would like to be a teacher so that I educate as many girls as possible. I have also told my friends in the quarry to come to school as there is everything we need to learn,” said Nadifa.
Also available in Italian on the Intersos website.