DUTCH POSTCODE LOTTERY AWARDS THEIRWORLD €1.35M FOR EMERGENCY COVID-19 EDUCATION ON THE GREEK ISLANDS

Theirworld, the global children’s education charity, has been awarded €1.35 million ($1.53 million) to fund emergency education for thousands of refugee children on the Greek islands during the Covid-19 epidemic, in partnership with Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for education in emergencies.

Refugee children are receiving the safety, opportunity and protection of an education at the Tapuat Centre near the Moria camp on Lesvos — Photo © UNICEF

16 June 2020 – Theirworld, the global children’s education charity, has been awarded €1.35 million ($1.53 million) to fund emergency education for thousands of refugee children on the Greek islands during the Covid-19 epidemic, in partnership with Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies.

The award from the Dutch Postcode Lottery (Nationale Postcode Loterij) will support vital education programs for vulnerable children on the islands and on the mainland who have often fled war in countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.

Without this donation, funding for education programmes for young refugees on the islands would have run out by the end of this month.

More than 10,000 people in the overcrowded refugee camps in the Greek Aegean islands are school-aged children and fewer than 15 per cent have any form of education. Including the Greek mainland, there are about 46,000 refugee children and youth. Only 13,000 of them are in formal schools.

The award is part of the ongoing support which Theirworld has received from the Dutch Postcode Lottery to support education in emergencies, in partnership with Education Cannot Wait.

Working with partners like UNICEF and UNHCR, the contribution will bridge the divide between in-person and remote learning opportunities, aiming to reach 18,900 children with formal and distance learning, as well as in non-formal education centres adjusted to COVID-19 measures. Additionally, the contribution will be used to implement preventative measures in education centres to curb the spread of COVID-19 when they reopen. These will include hygiene and medical items.

Without access to education, refugee children face an uncertain future. They also face the additional threat of the coronavirus, which the Greek government has described as a “ticking health bomb” in the islands’ refugee camps.

According to Theirworld, €20 million will be needed to secure quality education for these children over the next two years.

As part of the larger collaboration, funds have so far been used to build informal education centres for young refugees that concentrate on teaching the Greek language and providing psychological and social support to traumatised children. This helps them to be better prepared for a return to school alongside their local peers.

Sigrid van Aken, Director of Dutch Postcode Lottery, said: 

“From school closures to isolation and a persistent sense of anxiety, the effects of this pandemic are having a huge impact on children and young people in refugee camps, especially girls,” she said.

“Despite the crisis, learning should never stop. This is why the Dutch Postcode Lottery is committed to supporting UNHCR, UNICEF and Theirworld in offering remote learning and ensuring inclusion and equity for refugee children in the Greek Islands so that no one is left behind.”

Justin van Fleet, the President of Theirworld, said:

“Every child, wherever they are in the world and whatever their circumstances, has the right to quality education. In emergency situations, education can give displaced or traumatised children a sense of structure and direction. A safe place to play and learn can also help children heal by providing a return to familiar routines.

“It’s because of the vital role that education plays in emergency situations that we are calling on the international community to secure crucial education provision for young refugees on the Greek islands who are among the most vulnerable children in Europe. We are incredibly grateful to the Dutch Postcode Lottery for responding to this humanitarian crisis and giving these children a chance of a better life.”

Sarah Brown, the Chair of Theirworld, said:

“Refugee children on the Greek islands are living in overcrowded, unsanitary camps. They are among the most vulnerable children in Europe. I firmly believe that just a few hours of lessons a day, away from the camps, can be transformative for learning language and skills, and, importantly, can restore hope for a better future, which is so vital in emergency situations.”

Theirworld’s report, Finding Solutions to Greece’s Refugee Education Crisis, was written by international education expert Maysa Jalbout, and based on extensive visits to Greece and dozens of interviews with key players in government, aid agencies and local NGOs.

Its three-point proposal calls on the international community to recognise the pressure and drain on Greece’s education system created by the refugee crisis and to more actively support the country’s efforts with refugees over the next five years. At the same time, it says the Greek government needs to demonstrate more thorough planning that the international community could then get behind.

About Theirworld

Theirworld is a global children’s charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation. Its mission is to ensure that every child has the best start in life, a safe place to learn and the skills they need for the future. Theirworld is dedicated to providing education for refugees,and has been among the leading donors to refugee education in the Greek islands through its partnership with Education Cannot Wait.

About the Dutch Postcode Lottery – society always wins

The Dutch Postcode Lottery was established in 1989 to support charities that work to create a better and greener world. The lottery raises funds for its charity partners and draws attention to the work they are doing.

With the Postcode Lottery, your postcode is your lottery number, so that when you win, you win together with your neighbours. At the moment, more than 3 million Dutch households play the Postcode Lottery every month, giving them the chance to win hundreds of thousands of prizes. At least 40% of the Postcode Lottery’s gross proceeds goes to 105 charities on a yearly basis. Since its foundation, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has donated over 6.2 billion euro to organizations dedicated to ‘people’ and ‘planet’. They include the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)Médecins Sans FrontièresOxfam Netherlandsthe World Wildlife FundAmnesty International and Greenpeace.

The Dutch Postcode Lottery, the FriendsLottery and the BankGiro Lottery are part of the Holding Nationale Goede Doelen Loterijen N.V. The format of the Postcode Lottery is also used in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and Norway. These lotteries together are the second biggest private donor in the world. www.postcodeloterij.nl

For more information, please contact:

Nicole Martin

Head of Partnerships and Media

nicole@theirworld.org

07768695087

AS HOTELS OPEN FOR TOURISTS ON THE GREEK ISLANDS, BOOKS SHOULD OPEN FOR CHILDREN

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many different issues across societies, while further exacerbating disparity and inequity by driving millions of already vulnerable people even further to the margins. Nowhere is this more evident than the Greek Islands where thousands upon thousands of refugee children are forgotten – and downright ignored – by the international community.

Photo © Theirworld

By Justin van Fleet, President, Theirworld & Executive Director, Global Business Coalition for Education

While it may be a different summer than most – with precautions in place to stave off the coronavirus pandemic – Greece is opening up for tourists.  Starting on 15 June, travel restrictions were lifted and tourists were able to begin going to their favorite islands to soak up the sun.  While this is a good thing for the Greek economy, it underscores an even deeper crisis of humanity: disparity and inequity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many different issues across societies, while further exacerbating disparity and inequity by driving millions of already vulnerable people even further to the margins.  Nowhere is this more evident than the Greek Islands where thousands upon thousands of refugee children are forgotten – and downright ignored – by the international community.

Unlike tourists getting ready to visit, over 42,000 refugees did not travel to Greece on chartered flights or ferries.  Instead, they were forced by circumstance to make a dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea, in many cases fleeing violence and risking drowning and death in hope of a better future.  Instead, many have found themselves in what can only be described as a ‘hell on earth’ confined to overcrowded camps in the Greek Aegean islands, their point of entry to Europe.

When I visited the Moria Camp in Greece last year with Theirworld’s Chair, Sarah Brown, Education Cannot Wait’s Director Yasmine Sherif and the People Postcode Lottery Country Director Annemiek Hoogenboom, I was horrified by the conditions. What was intended to be a temporary shelter for 2,500 refugees is now one such ‘hell on earth’ for nearly 20,000 people – the many of them children and unaccompanied minors.  Open sewage, no running water, lack of tents or proper shelters and reports of violence against women and adolescents.  These were just some of the things we heard and saw.

In humanitarian crises, children are the most vulnerable group – and education is often the first institutional victim – further exacerbating their vulnerability.  For the 31,000 refugee children in Greece, and about 10,000 on the Islands where less than 15% have any access to education –this is certainly the case. Creating school spaces for 10,000 children doesn’t require rocket science.  Neither is integrating the additional refugee children on the mainland into the education system. Many countries have done so against far greater odds (e.g. Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, for instance, who have done so with millions (not thousands), of refugees.

With political will and sufficient financing, doing so is a relatively easy and cost-effective process – with many successful examples from around the world having proved this already, offering excellent guidance and lessons to learn from.  Research conducted across regions have proven without doubt that the benefits of doing so far outweigh any possible burden to society. In fact, investing in education is one of the soundest investments with the highest rate of return that any government can make, under virtually any situation.

The right to education – particularly for children in refugee contexts  –  is essential for a young child to develop, thrive and reach their full potential. It is also a humanitarian obligation recognized in the 1951 Refugee Convention, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and is enshrined in the humanitarian priorities stemming from the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

Photo © Theirworld

So why have too many have failed to listen?

The recently appointed European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, has stated that one of his top priorities is to support people in need as quickly as possible, with full respect of the humanitarian principles. And within the EU, there is an opportunity to quickly achieve this objective for vulnerable refugee children. The humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence boil down to the following: protecting and respecting individuals; prioritizing the most urgent cases of distress; making no distinctions based on nationality; and, taking timely action independent from political, economic or other objectives.

And it’s with the spirit of humanitarian principles that the Dutch Postcode Lottery and Theirworld have joined forces for these refugee children.  What I love about Education Cannot Wait is that it brings together diverse partners for a common purpose. In the absence of public funding, Theirworld  –  in partnership with the Dutch Postcode Lottery and Education Cannot Wait – – works alongside UNICEF, UNHCR and local NGOS to help thousands of these children realize their fundamental human right to education. By doing so, they are able to benefit from a sense of normalcy, learning and playing with their friends, and simply having a childhood with all the hope and dreams that come with it.

Our recent Theirworld report highlights a three-point action plan to effectively deliver refugee education in Greece:

  1. Mobilize an immediate €20 million in urgent financial support for 2020–2022, providing a scale up of education over two years.
  2. Cultivate international support for a comprehensive refugee education plan across Greece.
  3. Invest in the region and tackle the refugee problem closer to home.

Once again, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has stepped up to the plate so that existing education centres do not shut down this month. Their new, generous and urgently needed contribution will bridge the divide between in-person and remote learning opportunities, aiming to reach about 20,000 children with formal and distance learning, as well as in non-formal education centres adjusted to COVID-19 measures.  It will prepare education centres with preventative measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 upon reopening.  This will include hygiene and medical items.

Photo © Theirworld

But for this to be a true public-private partnership, it’s time for governments to step and do their part.

It has never been acceptable to hide, ignore or conveniently forget child and youth refugees in need of humanitarian assistance in Europe. We must work together now to provide them with the most basic, but important, humanitarian rights, including their inherent right to education, while the broader politics are sorted out.

Why? It is good for children, who can learn, grow, develop their skills to be prepared as productive members of society.  It is good for Greece, as increased funding will support Greek organizations and teachers, creating more jobs and fostering better relations between host and refugee communities. And it is good for Europe to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe within its borders which can be addressed with the right investment and commitment.

So, while many Europeans and other tourist begin to travel to Greece this week on holidays, let us not only remember to respect the dignity thousands of refugee children on the Islands, let us also take collective action to give them the education support they desperately need.

About the Author

Justin van Fleet is​ the President of the global children’s charity Theirworld and Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition for Education.