Children in crisis zones

Education in crisis zones

 Children in conflict and crisis zones often lack access to regular, quality education and infrastructure. They often learn in tents and makeshift classrooms because schools have been damaged or destroyed, or the government has no funds to build schools in conflict-affected regions.

The Oslo Summit on Education for Development from 6-10 July, 2015, focused on education in emergencies and protracted crises. It coincided with the final report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in which eight goals were set by world leaders in the year 2000 for health, education, governance, and the environment. The 2000-2015 MDG comes to an end in September 2015, and a new set of 17 goals will be established for the future – to 2030.

There are many reasons for giving education in crisis zones. Children in crisis zones are more at risk of exploitation, early marriage, or recruitment as soldiers.

The education section of the report stated that only 30 of the 51 fragile countries had met one or more of the MDG targets which aimed to reduce poverty through access to education. More than half of the 57 million school-aged children in the world are still not in school – most due to conflict (such as war or territorial disputes) or crisis (such a natural disasters). They increased from 30% in 1999 to 36% in 2012. Hence the figures do not include the current conflict in Syria where enrollment rates for children aged 6-18 years fell by 34% in 2013 alone.

It is essential to get children back to school as quickly as possible after a conflict or crisis – such as with the Nepal earthquake where 95% of its schools were destroyed and safe makeshift areas for learning were established. There are many reasons for giving education in crisis zones. Children in crisis zones are more at risk of exploitation, early marriage, or recruitment as soldiers.

In September 2015 when the United Nations leads the establishment of the new Millennium Development Goals, the MDG will be part of an extensive consultation process involving 193 countries. The Oslo Summit on Education for Development is a key opportunity to emphasize and prioritize education goals for the millions of children not in school, and for the 65 million children living below the poverty line.

For individuals considering giving education in crisis zones, the priorities are access, quality, and infrastructure. In developed countries the priorities for education are quality, quality, and quality. But for education in crisis zones, there are many more factors that prevent children from learning. It is critical that children enjoy the opportunity to learn for their own development and wellbeing.

 

Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls specialises in human rights, peace and reconciliation, disaster relief, and aid development, primarily in developing countries, states in transition, and conflict zones. She is the author of four books: The Sudan Curse, Kashmir on a Knife-Edge, Bardot’s Comet and Liberia’s Deadest Ends.

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