PROJECT SYNDICATE – TACKLING THE COVID HUNGER CRISIS

“The choice facing world leaders is simple: act now to tackle the hunger crisis, or pay a much higher price later. Immediate action will be cheaper and save more lives than responding only after multiple famines have taken hold and a generation’s missed education has exacted a terrible toll.” ~ Gordon Brown, Mark Lowcock

In this new, compelling opinion piece featured on Project Syndicate, Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, highlight the devastating COVID-19 hunger and education crisis facing millions of vulnerable children and youth around the world. They call for urgent financing for Education Cannot Wait and its partner organizations like WFP and Save the Children to feed hungry children. They also highlight the need for funding to tackle low enrollment rates for refugee children in secondary education, particularly for adolescent girls. This is a commitment ECW has made in the Global Refugee Forum, and for which it is working closely with UNHCR to address, its key partner for refugee children’s education. They lastly flag the digital divide leaving two thirds of the world’s school-age children without internet access at home and for which a UNICEF-led project is working to bridge. They call for immediate action, so that ECW together with partners can reach more of these children with the help they so desperately need now.

LONDON – Today, 270 million people – equivalent to the combined population of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy – are on the brink of starvation. This number has doubled over the last 12 months. And it is the world’s children who are suffering most.

An estimated 11 million children under the age of five face extreme hunger or starvation in 11 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia. Of these, 168,000 will die of malnutrition by the end of 2022 unless they receive emergency support. And a total of 73 million primary schoolchildren in 60 low-income countries are chronically hungry.

Hunger was already on the rise before the coronavirus pandemic, mostly as a result of war and conflict, and climate change exacerbated it. But the secondary effects of the pandemic have created a global hunger crisis.

One reason for this is that COVID-19 has broken the lifeline of school. More than 1.6 billion children have missed time in the classroom since the pandemic began, and nearly 200 million are still not back at school.

Previous crises have shown that school closures carry huge social and economic costs, including increases in child marriage and child labor. Some young people end up paying the ultimate price: complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 in low- and middle-income countries. Ultimately, crises reverse progress on ensuring that all girls have access to quality education.

Moreover, schools provide many poor children with their only nutritious meal of the day. School closures mean that millions of children have lost their opportunity not only to learn, but also to eat. Children have missed more than 39 billion school meals during the crisis. Women and girls are often the first to miss meals, and account for more than 70% of people facing chronic hunger.

The damage caused by just a few weeks of missed nutrition can stunt a hungry child for a lifetime, and malnutrition can stunt a country’s economic progress for a generation. So, getting children back into school where they can be educated and fed must be a high priority.

With relatively little money, the international humanitarian system has achieved much. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), for example, feeds around 100 million people per year. And when COVID-19 severely disrupted commercial airline services, the UN created a logistics system to transport health and humanitarian workers and vital supplies, including food. But a crisis on this scale requires an ambitious plan that involves more than just providing school meals. Humanitarian organizations can’t do it alone.

At their June summit, the wealthy G7 economies should commission a long-term plan to address rising global food needs. The plan should include provisions for pre-emptive action: building up food stocks, developing insurance as a protection, and supporting developing-country farmers and food growers with long-term investments to help them become self-sufficient.

Policymakers must also adopt innovative ways to generate financing, including guarantee-based facilities that can maximize the use of development aid and private-sector funding, which was at the heart of the 2015 Addis Ababa proposals for financing the Sustainable Development Goals. Another priority could be a closer partnership between the UN and the World Bank – the one wholly global organization capable of mobilizing substantial additional resources on a sustained basis.

But there is a very simple, common-sense solution to the immediate crisis: new international money. At least $600 billion in Special Drawing Rights (the International Monetary Fund’s reserve asset) can be allocated to poorer countries. Leaders and lenders can agree on up to $80 billion of debt relief on the condition that the money goes to education, health, and nutrition. And the World Bank and regional development banks can rapidly expand grants and loans.

With around $10 billion this year, the world could stave off famine in Yemen, South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, and the Sahel. And it could prevent mass hunger – which immediately precedes famine – in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia’s Tigray region, and other vulnerable places.

This may sound like a lot of money. But it’s the equivalent of a dollar a month from each person in the world’s richest economies, and represents a fraction of 1% of wealthy countries’ pandemic-related stimulus spending.

We need to move quickly. This means giving grants up front to the WFP and leading NGOs like Save the Children to feed hungry children and their families. With only 31% of refugee children enrolled at the secondary level, and just 27% of girls, Education Cannot Wait – which helps displaced children into school and has raised almost $1 billion in its short existence – needs to be fully funded. By directing additional resources to education, we can get 136 million children in some of the poorest and most conflict-affected countries back in school – and help them stay there.COVID-19 has also exposed another educational divide: two thirds of the world’s school-age children lack internet access at home, which prevents them from online learning. Today, only 5% of children in low-income countries have such access, compared to 90% in high-income countries. A UNICEF-led project to connect the world could bridge this gaping digital divide.

The UK government has pledged to play a leading global role in getting all children into school and ensuring that girls receive 12 years of education. But we will not achieve that noble objective unless the G7 summit addresses this issue, in addition to food security.

Time and again, education has demonstrated its power to transform individuals, families, and entire countries. But chronic hunger can have devastating consequences: cruel and preventable deaths, violent conflict, and mass displacement.

Ignoring the global scourge of hunger is thus not an option. What happens in the world’s most fragile places has knock-on effects in the most stable countries.

The choice facing world leaders is simple: act now to tackle the hunger crisis, or pay a much higher price later. Immediate action will be cheaper and save more lives than responding only after multiple famines have taken hold and a generation’s missed education has exacted a terrible toll.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2021

 12 YEARS TO BREAK BARRIERS AND LEAVE NO GIRL BEHIND

2018-09-joint-statement-12-years-break-barriers-girls-education 2018-09-declaration-conjointe-12-annees-education-fillesJoint-statement-header

Today, more girls are in school globally than ever before; but 132 million are not, particularly those in emergencies and in conflict-affected and fragile states. Millions more drop out before they complete their education, and progress for the most marginalized girls is far too slow. These girls struggle to learn the basics, and are under-represented in secondary education, where they would gain the skills, knowledge and opportunities for a productive and fulfilling life.

Far too many girls continue to face barriers to their education, across the lifecycle from early years, through adolescence and into adulthood, including poverty; sexual and gender-based violence; child, early and forced marriage; early and unwanted pregnancy; and restrictive social norms and expectations. Other barriers rest within the school, related to deep-rooted gender discrimination, unequal power relations, and inadequate facilities. By some estimates, one in ten girls in sub-Saharan Africa miss school during menstruation. Gender-based violence in, around and on the way to school knows no geographical, cultural, social, economic or ethnic boundaries. Inclusive, equitable education, in safe and secure environments, which reaches the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities, remains fundamental to achieving the empowerment and economic equality of girls and women, especially in developing contexts and countries struggling with conflict.

Today we meet to take stock, to reaffirm and issue new policy and financial commitments, and to agree on next steps for joint advocacy and action to achieve results for all girls.

We acknowledge that much progress has been made in 2018 to make concrete commitments to advancing girls’ enjoyment of their human right to education, and a contribution to social development, economic growth, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The G7 Summit in Canada and the Commonwealth Summit in the UK agreed on commitments with a particular focus on supporting adolescent and highly marginalised girls while they confront enduring barriers to their achievement of positive learning outcomes; while the Global Partnership for Education conference in Senegal saw developing countries commit themselves to invest a further $110 billion in education, coupled with $2.3 billion of ODA pledges by donors. Education Cannot Wait, in barely one year, invested close to $100 million in emergency response plans and multi-year resilience programmes in which 50 percent of the beneficiaries are girls and the majority of teachers are female. With 2030 in sight, we must continue the momentum for shared responsibility, global solidarity, and accountability to ensure no girl is left behind.

We together call on girls themselves, their families and communities, governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to join us in our commitment to undertake individual and collective action to dismantle barriers to girls’ education, and to:

  • Increase girls’ access to schools and learning pathways, with a focus on the most marginalized, including those in contexts of emergency, conflict and fragility.
  • Provide opportunity for 12 years of free, safe and quality education that promotes gender equality, builds literacy and numeracy skills, and skills for life and the jobs of the future.

To close existing gaps, we resolve to:

  • Promote gender-responsive education systems, including plans and policies, budgeting, teaching and learning approaches, curriculum and learning materials;
  • Improve coordination between humanitarian assistance and development cooperation, ensuring commitment to gender equality and prioritizing improved access to quality education for girls and women in the early stages of humanitarian response and peacebuilding efforts;
  • Enact and enforce legislation, providing opportunity for 12 years of free basic education, and dismantling barriers to education through wider reform, such as on child, early and forced marriage;
  • Invest in teachers, creating incentives for male and female teachers to provide quality learning opportunities, and expanding professional development in gender-responsive teaching practice;
  • Focus on the hardest to reach girls, including girls in situations of conflict, crisis and fragility, rural girls, and girls with disabilities;
  • Champion schools as safe spaces for learning, free of gender bias, violence and discrimination;
  • Engage communities, parents, boys and men, and girls themselves to challenge the patriarchal beliefs, practices, institutions and structures that drive gender inequality;
  • Monitor progress, and ensure the collection of sex-and age-disaggregated data on a regular basis and its use to redress gender disparities in education and their causes across the lifecycle;
  • Implement integrated and multi-sectoral approaches which empower adolescents to avoid sexual risks and prevent early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections;
  • Prepare girls for jobs of the future, building digital skills and closing gender gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
  • Strengthen international, regional, national, and South-South cooperation to champion girls’ education and make gender equality in and through education a reality.

We commit to galvanizing political will to deliver on the SDG 4 commitments to girls’ education and use upcoming events such as the Global Education 2030 Meeting organized by UNESCO in December 2018 and the SDG High Level Political Forum in July 2019 to take stock of progress in the count down to 2030.

25 September 2018

 

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DOUZE ANS POUR SUPPRIMER LES OBSTACLES ET NE LAISSER AUCUNE FILLE DE CȎTÉ

 

 Jamais autant de filles n’ont été scolarisées dans le monde. Toutefois, 132 millions de filles ne vont toujours pas à l’école, en particulier dans les États fragiles, en situation d’urgence ou en proie à des conflits. Des millions d’autres filles quittent l’école prématurément, tandis que les progrès enregistrés pour les plus marginalisées d’entre elles sont encore bien trop lents. Pour ces filles, acquérir les compétences fondamentales est un véritable combat. Elles demeurent en outre sous-représentées dans l’enseignement secondaire, où elles pourraient pourtant acquérir les connaissances et les compétences nécessaires pour construire une existence riche et accomplie.

Les filles et les femmes sont encore beaucoup trop nombreuses à rencontrer des obstacles à leur éducation, tout au long de leur vie, de la petite enfance à l’âge adulte, en passant par l’adolescence : pauvreté, violences sexuelles ou liées au genre, mariages d’enfants, précoces ou forcés, grossesses précoces ou non désirées, ainsi que des normes et des attentes sociales trop restrictives. L’institution scolaire elle-même maintient un certain nombre de barrières : discriminations fondées sur le genre, relations de pouvoir inégalitaires et infrastructures inadaptées. Selon certaines estimations, une fille sur dix, en Afrique subsaharienne, manque l’école pendant ses menstruations. Les violences liées au genre à l’intérieur, aux abords ou sur le chemin de l’école ne connaissent pas de frontières géographiques, culturelles, sociales, économiques ou ethniques. Il demeure donc essentiel d’assurer les conditions d’une école inclusive et équitable, d’une éducation dispensée dans un environnement sain et sûr, qui inclut les plus vulnérables, y compris les enfants en situation de handicap. Il s’agit de rendre les filles et les femmes autonomes, y compris sur le plan économique, en particulier dans les pays en développement et en situation de conflits.

Nous sommes aujourd’hui réunis pour prendre la mesure de cette situation, pour affirmer à nouveau notre volonté d’avancer, pour définir de nouvelles mesures et des engagements financiers et pour convenir d’actions communes afin de garantir des résultats pour toutes les filles.

Convenons-en, de nombreux progrès ont été accomplis en 2018. Des engagements concrets ont été pris afin de garantir que les filles puissent jouir pleinement de leur droit à l’éducation, un droit fondamental contribuant au développement social, à la croissance économique et à la réalisation des objectifs de développement durable (ODD). Les Sommets du G-7 au Canada et du Commonwealth au Royaume-Uni ont débouché sur des engagements précis, notamment en faveur des adolescentes et des filles les plus marginalisées, tandis que la Conférence du Partenariat mondial pour l’éducation organisée au Sénégal a vu les pays en développement s’engager à investir 110 milliards de dollars supplémentaires dans l’éducation, auxquels s’ajoutent 2,3 milliards de dollars de la part de donateurs. Education Cannot Wait / Éducation ne peut pas attendre a investi en à peine un an près de 100 millions de dollars dans des plans d’intervention d’urgence et des programmes pluriannuels de résilience dans lesquels 50% des bénéficiaires sont des filles, et la majorité des enseignants des femmes. Dans la perspective de l’échéance de 2030, nous devons entretenir cette dynamique en faveur d’une responsabilité commune, d’une solidarité mondiale et d’un principe de redevabilité, pour faire en sorte qu’aucune fille ne soit laissée de côté.

Ensemble, nous appelons les filles elles-mêmes, ainsi que leurs familles et communautés respectives, les gouvernements, les organisations internationales, la société civile, le secteur privé, tous les acteurs de l’éducation, à s’engager avec nous, et à agir, à titre individuel ou collectif, pour lever les obstacles à l’éducation des filles et pour :

 

  • améliorer l’accès des filles à l’éducation et aux parcours d’apprentissage, en ciblant les plus marginalisées d’entre elles, notamment celles qui se trouvent dans des situations d’urgence, de conflit ou de vulnérabilité ;
  • assurer 12 années d’un enseignement gratuit, sûr et de qualité, qui s’attache à promouvoir l’égalité de genre et à renforcer les compétences en matière d’écriture, de lecture et de calcul, ainsi que les compétences nécessaires à la vie quotidienne et aux métiers de demain.

 

Afin de combler les écarts qui existent, nous sommes déterminés à :

 

  • promouvoir des systèmes éducatifs prenant en compte les questions de genre, notamment en matière de planification, de réglementation, de budget, d’approches et de ressources pédagogiques et de programmes d’enseignement ;
  • améliorer la coordination entre l’aide humanitaire et la coopération pour le développement, en garantissant un engagement de tous les acteurs en faveur de l’égalité de genre, et en faisant de l’accès à une éducation de qualité pour les filles et les femmes une priorité dès les premiers moments de l’intervention humanitaire et les premiers efforts pour instaurer la paix ;
  • promulguer et faire appliquer des lois permettant d’assurer 12 années d’un enseignement de base gratuit et de lever les obstacles à l’éducation, grâce à des réformes plus larges, portant par exemple sur les mariages d’enfants, précoces et forcés ;
  • investir dans les enseignants en mettant en place des mesures incitatives pour que les enseignants, hommes et femmes, puissent bénéficier de conditions d’apprentissage de qualité et soient formés aux pratiques pédagogiques qui intègrent une perspective de genre;
  • se concentrer sur les filles les plus marginalisées, notamment celles qui se trouvent en situation de conflit, de crise ou de vulnérabilité, celles qui vivent en milieu rural et celles qui ont un handicap ;
  • promouvoir les écoles en tant que lieux d’apprentissage sûrs, exempts de préjugés, de violences ou de discriminations liées au genre ;
  • encourager les communautés, les parents, les garçons et les hommes, ainsi que les filles elles-mêmes, à remettre en question les croyances, les pratiques, les institutions et les structures patriarcales qui favorisent les inégalités de genre ;
  • suivre les progrès et assurer la collecte de données réparties par sexe et par âge de manière régulière, et suivre l’utilisation de ces données pour remédier aux inégalités fondées sur le genre dans l’éducation ;

 

  • adopter des approches intégrées et multisectorielles qui donnent aux adolescentes les moyens d’éviter les risques liés à la sexualité et de prévenir les grossesses précoces et les maladies sexuellement transmissibles ;
  • préparer les filles aux métiers de demain, développer leurs compétences dans le domaine du numérique et combler l’écart entre filles et garçons dans l’enseignement des sciences, de la technologie, de l’ingénierie et des mathématiques ;
  • resserrer la coopération internationale, régionale, nationale et Sud-Sud pour promouvoir l’éducation des filles et faire en sorte que l’égalité de genre dans et par l’éducation devienne une réalité.

 

Nous sommes déterminés à mobiliser les volontés politiques en vue de la réalisation des engagements de l’ODD 4 en faveur de l’éducation des filles, ainsi qu’à mettre à profit les grandes manifestations à venir, telles que la Réunion mondiale Éducation 2030 organisée par l’UNESCO en décembre 2018 et le Forum politique de haut niveau consacré aux ODD en 2019 pour dresser un bilan des progrès accomplis au regard de l’échéance de 2030.

 

25 septembre 2018

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