The number of out-of-school children and adolescents reached 124 million and rising in 2013. Globally, one in eleven children is out of school, totaling 59 million children in 2013, a growth of 2.4 million since 2010. Of these, 30 million live in sub-Saharan Africa while 10 million are in South and West Asia. One out of six adolescents is not in school, totaling 65 million in 2013. Of these, 26 million lived in South and West Asia, and 23 million in sub-Saharan Africa, where there are more adolescents out of school today than in 2000. The proportion of out of school children in war zones has grown from 30% to 36% since 2000. There are now 34 million out of school children and adolescents living in conflict-affected countries. The world faces a shortfall of 3.3 million primary school teachers and 5.1 million lower secondary school teachers by 2030 and the areas most in need of education personnel are countries affected by emergencies and disasters. Assertions are that, children living in fragile or conflict affected developing countries are four times more likely to be out of school than children living in stable developing countries. As a result of the prolonged nature of these crises, children are increasingly out of school for lengthy periods of time and the longer children stay out of school, the less likelihood of them returning. Despite this sad reality, Education in Emergencies (EiE) has not received the attention it deserves in terms of humanitarian funding. 2% of the humanitarian appeal goes to EiE globally, accounting for only 40% of interventions worldwide. This is made more complex by the fact that, in most crisis affected countries across the world, the existing education system gets overwhelmed by the increasing demand for education opportunities mostly as a result of influx of refugees, IDPs or due to acute shortage of education facilities as a result of destruction by natural disasters.
Key impacts of conflict, natural hazards, and other emergencies
- The average length of displacement for refugees is now approaching 20 years. In protracted conflicts, destruction of infrastructure and limited access to remaining schools has the potential to deny education for several years, interrupt progress in education (for individual students and wider systems), and lead to entire generations missing out on an education.
- Conflicts and other crises interrupt economic activity and can drive families, communities, and countries deeper into poverty. For every three years of violence, GDP growth drops at least 2.7%, limiting opportunities for social and economic development
- Rise in violence against women and girls.The onset of disasters and armed conflict limits economic opportunities, weakens social institutions, and increases the chance of sexual violence against women and girls. Girls, particularly from poor families, are also at higher risk of early and forced marriage due to limited alternatives to protect and provide for families.
In the recently launched inter-agency report, Putting Children at the Heart of the World Humanitarian Summit, more than 6000 children were interviewed ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit. Children identified and consistently prioritized their education and protection in all types of emergencies, from conflict to protracted crises and disasters.
Living in conflict, many of these children have experienced more crises, violence and death in their young lives than most adults in peaceful countries know in their life times. Over the years, numerous assessments have been conducted in conflict affected communities and the message is very clear; Education is their number one priority.Education in Emergencies (EiE) is defined as set of linked project activities that enable structured learning to continue in times of acute crisis or long term instability. It can be both formal and informal activities that contribute directly to children’s survival and development in times of crisis.
Re-establishing education after an emergency not only meets a fundamental right of children to education regardless of the circumstances, but also plays a critical role in normalizing the environment for children and contributes significantly to helping children overcome the psychological impact of disasters. Equally important, Education in Emergencies provides a protective environment for children who are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in the wake of emergencies or armed conflict. My opinion is that, all of us should be part of the voice that we wan to hear, by raising and talking about the plight of these innocent victims wherever we are, because by ignoring their plight of these children, we are indirectly playing a role of denying them their fundamental right to education and not making the world any safer.