A child’s right to education is threatened most during times of crisis — whether by natural disasters or war. Here are six facts explaining how crises affect education globally:
- According to UNICEF, one in four children ages 3 to 18-years-old are living in 35 countries affected by crises.
- The organization reports that there are 75 million children around the world who are seriously in need of academic support. However, less than 2 percent of humanitarian aid goes to education.
- During emergencies, schools are often repurposed to serve as shelters. As such, many children are displaced and as a result lose access to books, school supplies and school itself.
- Children that do not attend school are more susceptible to childhood marriage, army recruitment, abuse and exploitation. In addition to protecting children from these dangers, school gives children routine, stability, friends and support from teachers.
- According to UNICEF, over 6,000 schools in Syria are currently closed due to attacks, military occupations or because they are being used as shelters. In the Central African Republic, a quarter of primary schools, about 500, are not in session.
- In the most poverty stricken communities, when a child does not attend school for more than one year, it is unlikely that the child will return. In addition, it is 2.5 times more likely for girls to permanently leave school than boys, according to UNICEF.
The Education Cannot Wait Fund and #EmergencyLessons education campaigns are leading the way to make education a priority, during and after crises. UNICEF launched Education Cannot Wait at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. The fund is dedicated to supporting global education during emergencies.
Education Cannot Wait aims to close the $8.5 million funding gap and reach the 75 million children who are out of school by 2030.
In addition to The Education Cannot Wait Fund, the #EmergencyLessons education campaign was launched by UNICEF and the European Union on May 16, 2016, to stress the importance of childhood education during emergencies.
The campaign shares the personal stories and experiences of adolescents living in emergencies through social media. #EmergencyLessons targets young Europeans with the goal of inspiring awareness and support for the children whose education has been interrupted.
“Our message today is not that children need education even in emergencies, it’s that children need education especially in emergencies,” stated Queen Rania of Jordan at an Education Cannot Wait event.
Education Cannot Wait and #EmergencyLessons are working to make education a focus alongside food, water and shelter during and post periods of instability. Through these education campaigns, countries have the opportunity to empower young girls, promote economic growth and build more resilient communities.
– Erica Rawles