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NEW YORK/GENVE, Oct. 5 (IPS) – The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of education worldwide, but the blow was particularly devastating for children in emergencies and protracted crises.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the global fund that provides education and learning to children and adolescents in emergencies and crises, has said 2020 was “exceptionally challenging”.
ECW released its annual results report, Winning the Human Race, today, October 5, World Teachers Day.
“The pandemic acted as a risk multiplier, as it not only created new challenges, but also amplified existing challenges and risks for the most vulnerable groups, especially girls and children and adolescents with disabilities,” the report said.
“With COVID-19 turning entire societies and socioeconomic systems upside down, 2020 is remembered as a uniquely challenging year in modern history. While nearly 90 percent of students worldwide have seen their education disrupted — with nearly a year of education lost to a billion children — those who were already marginalized and most left behind in crisis situations are paying a higher price,” the UN special envoy to the United Nations said. Global Education, Gordon Brown.
“An entire generation is faced with irreversible loss. Among them, an estimated 20 million displaced girls, especially adolescent girls, are at risk of permanently dropping out of school, losing not only the opportunity to learn, but also the protections that education provides against gender-based violence, child marriage, and sexual exploitation and trafficking .”
For nearly 5 years, Education Cannot Wait has worked tirelessly to minimize learning interruption for nearly 5 million children in some of the world’s most severe emergency and crisis areas in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and Yemen.
“Without immediate additional significant financial investment to support education in emergencies and protracted crises, entire generations will be lost. COVID-19 has exacerbated the pre-existing devastation of conflict, climate-related disasters and forced displacement from Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen to the Sahel, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Venezuela – just to name a few 38 crises with ECW working with partners to ensure the right of every girl and boy to a safe, quality education,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.
As the world honors teachers in a challenging time for education, the latest ECW report confirms that the global fund has recruited nearly 150,000 teachers to help fill the educational gaps for children in critical crisis situations.
ECW ensures that teachers have access to resources and training in emergency and protracted crisis education (EiEPC). The educators are also trained in providing mental and psychosocial support, gender and inclusion.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, ECW acted proactively and decisively. Shortly after the World Health Organization’s pandemic statement on March 11, 2020, ECW launched 85 grant packages in 32 countries. According to the annual report, “$23.0 million was mobilized from the First Emergency Response (FER) reserve within 21 days and an additional $22.4 million was approved in July 2020 — a total of $45.4 million.”
It was the fund’s fastest disbursement and a concerted effort to protect the world’s children who were furthest behind. More than 29 million children and adolescents benefited, 51 percent of which were girls.
With Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong opportunities for all, ECW has weathered the pandemic; scaling resources and support for distance learning during school closures, promoting COVID-19 protocols and providing health and hygiene products.
In some countries, such as Afghanistan, home visits ensured that the pandemic did not derail children’s learning.
In Yemen, ECW partner UNICEF donated electronic learning materials to more than 330,000 children.
In Iraq, ECW and its partners embraced technology and used applications such as WhatsApp and Viber to communicate, direct classes and support more than 5,000 students.
Children in protracted crises in Afghanistan, Chad, Palestine and Uganda were taught health and hygiene, while emergency funds supported a range of continuing education programs.
ECW owes its rapid response and impact during the pandemic to the flexibility of the fund and the resilience of its partners, communities and the children and adolescents it serves. However, interrupted education and learning in the face of armed conflict, forced displacement and climate, and food crises, and a pandemic pushing millions more into poverty, funding will remain a major challenge.
“If we are to make progress in our quest for humanity, our global community must play a vital role in realizing the idea of our ‘shared humanity’. This means that these children receive a good education for at least 12 years. This is an investment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, an investment in peace, an investment in our future and an investment in our universal human rights,” said Sherif.
ECW’s vision is to provide quality and inclusive education to at least two-thirds of children in the world’s most acute and urgent crisis regions.
According to the report, ECW has raised $828.3 million through the ECW Trust Fund and, along with its partners, has helped leverage $1 billion in programs aligned with ECW’s multi-year resilience programs in nearly 18 countries.
The fund has been a lifeline for millions of children in the grip of war, displacement, humanitarian crises and emergencies. The fund has proven that even in the world’s worst-hit countries, children and adolescents do not have to be left behind. Rather, they should be first in line for empowerment and global support, according to ECW.
“By working with our partners, the scope of our collective achievements is unequivocal: Less than 5 years in existence, ECW has proven its proof of concept through concrete results for crisis-affected children and young people. I call on world leaders, the private sector and our global community to urgently and generously support Education Cannot Wait in reaching the millions of children already falling through the cracks,” said Sherif.
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© Inter Press Service (2021) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service
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