RESTORING EDUCATION, RESTORING HOPE

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

Photo © ECW/UNICEF/2020/Nahom Tesfaye

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

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Demissew Bizuwerk, UNICEF. View Original.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.