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International Literacy Day: little to celebrate

International Literacy Day: little to celebrate

  • Posted: Sep 08, 2016 -
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Fifty years ago, UNESCO officially proclaimed 8 September International Literacy Day to actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.

Now International Literacy Day is celebrated worldwide, bringing together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts in the field. On this day also International Literacy Prizes are awarded to people with outstanding solutions that can drive literacy towards achieving the 2030 Education Agenda. This year the focus is on innovation.

This is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this context the vision of literacy is aligned with lifelong learning opportunities with special focus on youth and adults. Literacy is a part of Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The target is that by 2030 all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy (SDG Target 4.6).

The International Literacy Day will be celebrated all around the world. The main global celebration of the day will take place at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris in the form of a two-day conference on 8 – 9 September, the highlight of which will be the awarding of the Literacy Prizes. At the same time the Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) will be launched, a new and ambitious initiative to make all major stakeholders pull together to promote literacy as a foundation for lifelong learning.

In addition, the Incheon Declaration , signed by more than 150 education ministers and representatives of civil society in May 2015 step during the World Education Forum has a specific commitment to promoting adult learning opportunities :

IncheonDeclaration

Check out the information (in English ) on the various ups and downs of adult literacy showing the following infographic and points out that, despite numerous international agreements since 1960, there is little to celebrate as more than 758 million people are still illiterate in the world and this represents 15 % of the world population .

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Olympics 2016: bronze medal winner Stefany Hernández, Jesuit Fe y Alegría student

Olympics 2016: bronze medal winner Stefany Hernández, Jesuit Fe y Alegría student

  • Posted: Aug 22, 2016 -
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You cannot choose the country where you are born, the family you belong to, or the gifts that you have been given. What you can determine is how far you would like to go and the limits you set for yourself.” 

Stefany Hernández is a Venezuelan athlete who has just won the bronze medal  of women’s Individual BMX Cylcing in the Olympics Rio 2016. She is also a graduate of a Fe y Alegría school, a network of Jesuit primary schools throughout Latin America, Caribbean, and Africa, serving children from families facing stark economic poverty.

Editor’s Note: Stefany won the Bronze Medal – Read more via Washington Post.

Stefany Hernandez“I recently visited my school, Escuela Básica Virgen Niña de Fe y Alegría Puerto Ordaz, and I was happy to hear that my physical education teacher at the time still remembers the day I came to school excited to share with my classmates the news that BMX was declared an official Olympic sport. I cut out the article from the newspaper, stuck it all over the school and told my classmates: I’m going to win that gold medal.” In 2015, Stefany represented Venezuela in the world championship and was crowned BMX World Champion; and today, the Olympic Games are awaiting her, every day her Olympic dream is a bit closer.

Stefany was born in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela 24 years ago, and is the youngest daughter in a family of 3 brothers and sisters. Stefany now lives in Aigle, Switzerland at the world cycling center with 6 other BMX youth who also dream of becoming Olympic medalists.

Stefany is a proud alumna of Fe y Alegría, “I studied at Escuela Básica Virgen Niña de Fe y Alegría Puerto Ordaz, since the time I was six years old until I was 14. Slowly but surely, I became adapted to the style of education at Fe y Alegría – I loved the classes and the model of teaching because it was always a challenge, they demanded that we make the most of our abilities and I worked hard to try to be number 1 in the class and on the honor roll. I was very competitive not only in the classroom, but I also tried to be captain of all the sports activities that I took part in: basketball, volleyball, and soccer, which was supposedly only for boys. I love sports and competition, and it was impossible to stop. I learned to push myself, to respect my neighbor, and to never remain satisfied if there is still space to evolve.”

Meeting and listening to Stefany is to be in touch with the identity of Fe y Alegría, it allows us to recognize and experience that education empowers and gives people the ability to dream, to fight for their goals.

Stefany and her companions train hard, 4 to 6 hours in the mornings and afternoons, regardless of the weather. They train with determination, passion, and with the certainty that only by striving to bring out the best in themselves can they achieve their goals.

“I know I can reach the gold medal, that’s my dream. But, I am also aware that at this point the competition is with myself. All of us that will be in the Olympic arena have the same possibilities; this is why the struggle will be to give the best of myself.”

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This is why she doesn’t stop; she knows that her strength is formed through discipline, courage and self-awareness.

When Stefany goes home to Venezuela, she wants to feel the warmth and strength that Fe y Alegría offers. She wants to share with children and youth at the Fe y Alegría’s around the world about her experience and what it meant for her to go to a Fe y Alegría school.

“I want children around the world to know that they can fulfill their dreams. It’s not about having money, the important thing is to fall in love with something, to dream and fight to fulfill your goals, that opportunities are achieved through effort, determination and commitment. I desire to share with the boys and girls of Fe y Alegria and encourage them to dream, to not be overcome by difficulties and their harsh surroundings. I dream that many of them in some years can say ‘I did it, I am what I always wanted to be, I am happy because every day I work hard and I overcome my own difficulties, I am happy because I love what I do’.”

Fe y Alegría is an international non-governmental organization, with over six decades of experience providing quality, inclusive popular education to the most vulnerable communities in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Fe y Alegría was first started by the Jesuit priest José Maria Vélaz on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela in 1955 and has grown to currently work in 21 countries, providing education programs to over 1.5 million individuals. The Office of the International Federation is based in Bogotá, Colombia.

263 million children and youth are out of school from primary to upper secondary

263 million children and youth are out of school from primary to upper secondary

  • Posted: Jul 18, 2016 -
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About 263 million children and youth are out of school, according to new data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). This is equivalent to about a quarter of the population of Europe. The total includes 61 million children of primary school age (6-11 years), 60 million of lower secondary school age (12-14 years), and the first ever estimate of those of upper secondary school age (15-17 years) at 142 million. These findings are presented in a new paper released jointly by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.

“Countries have promised to provide every child with a primary and secondary education by 2030. These new findings show the hard work ahead if we are to reach this goal, “said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “Our focus must be on inclusion from the earliest age and right through the learning cycle, on policies that address the barriers at every stage, with special attention to girls who still face the greatest disadvantage.”

Of all regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of exclusion. Over a fifth of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are out of school, followed by a third of youth between the ages of 12 and 14. According to UIS data, almost 60% of youth between the ages of 15 and 17 are not in school. A key obstacle to achieve the target is persistent disparities in education participation linked to sex, location and wealth.

Armed conflict poses another major barrier to education. Globally, 35% or 22 million of all out-of-school children of primary age, 25% of all adolescents of lower secondary age (15 million), and 18% or 26 million of all out-of-school youth of upper secondary age live in conflict-affected areas.

In general, older youth aged 15-17 year old are four times as likely to not be in school as children between the ages of 6 and 11. This is explained partly because primary and lower secondary education are compulsory in nearly every country, while upper secondary school is not. At the same time, these youth are often of legal working age. Many have no choice but to work while others try to combine going to school with employment.

Girls are more likely than boys to never set foot in a classroom, despite all the efforts and progress made over the past two decades. According to UIS data, 15 million girls of primary school age will never get the chance to learn to read or write in primary school compared to about 10 million boys. Over half of these girls – 9 million – live in sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty creates an additional barrier for girls. In Northern Africa and Western Asia, according to GEM Report analysis, among the poorest in the region, gaps are far wider: only 85 girls for every 100 boys of lower secondary school age attend school. Among those of upper secondary school age, only 77 of the poorest girls for every 100 of the poorest boys attend.

Click below and take a look at the new UNESCO visual presentation of data produced by the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children in order give us a clearer picture of why they are out of school.

UNESCO - Out of school children

GIAN Campaign launch: “Right to education, right to hope”

GIAN Campaign launch: “Right to education, right to hope”

  • Posted: Jul 07, 2016 -
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Every boy and girl, every adolescent and grown up have the right to education from the moment they are born. This right is never lost. Under no circumstances should this right be neglected, regardless of gender, age or country of origin.

But this has not always been the case. For centuries, education was a privilege for just a few but since 1948, the International Human Rights Declaration and most national constitutions have established education as a fundamental right of every citizen. And it is not just any right; education is the pathway to access the rest of human rights and enjoy fundamental freedoms. “Educational justice means radical justice (radical meaning “from the roots”), and the tree of social and structural justice will never be achievable without it”, claimed Father Vélaz, the founder of Fe y Alegría.

However, today, millions of people continue to be discriminated against because they live in the poorest parts of the planet or in conflict areas; because they cannot learn in their mother tongue; because they live with a disability…the causes of exclusion are just too many.

Jesuits, along with thousands of collaborators, have developed an extensive commitment to education around the globe, but this direct action work is not enough. Do we only want to offer the best schools and universities to our students? Or do we want the best education for everyone? We stand for an education that is understood as a public good, which removes inequality and prioritizes with equity those who are in highly vulnerable situations.

We are educators and work for justice. We must proclaim this right, claim it and demand it of States whose responsibility is to guarantee it. We must engage with others to do so, and one step requires being aware of the reality and learning what needs to be done so that quality education is a reality for everyone.

GIAN Education wants to contribute to the task of awareness-raising and has recently launched the “Right to education, right to hope” campaign to do so. It is an invitation to Jesuit organizations around the world to reflect together, take on our responsibility and, under a common slogan, raise our voices together to claim that educating and learning is MY right, it is OUR right, it is everyone’s right.

The resources of the campaign include a content guide for facilitators and activities not only for children and youth but also for adults. They are free and available to be downloaded at edujesuit.org in four languages. Topics such as an analysis of the current reality of education around the world, the new international agenda promoted by the United Nations, and the responsibility of different parts of the society offer an integral view to raise awareness and build strong citizens committed to demanding their rights. Visit edujesuit.org and become a right to education supporter.

Fe y Alegría proposes challenges for education in Venezuela

Fe y Alegría proposes challenges for education in Venezuela

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2016 -
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Within the forum “Challenges of Education in Venezuela” organized by the National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and in the complex context of the country, the director of Fe y Alegría, Manuel Aristorena, S.J. on behalf of the educational movement, has presented eight challenges so that the right to education can be effective in Venezuela.

1. The classrooms are left without educators; the schools have lowered their enrolments. Few young people want to be educators. Against this deficit of educators, there is the challenge for the Venezuelan state and society to make attractive the teaching career, worthy of the best. This requires dignifying its situation and improving the trainings. There can be no quality education with teachers adding up hours in various schools in order to survive.
2. Against the growing violence and the difficulty of solving problems peacefully, the challenge is to educate for peaceful coexistence, so that the violence will not be attractive to children and young people and that violence does not end with children and adolescents. The State must ensure the peace of the environment: in our schools only they have killed students, teachers, representatives, and a guard and stolen 200 computers. Committed teachers are true heroes.
3. Against the deinstitutionalization process and the citizenship deficit, we are challenged to train citizens able to see the rules as values, citizens aware of their rights and their duties, from early childhood education.
4. Venezuela has record in Latin America for its rate of early pregnancy. An IDEHNA study certifies it. It is the only problem that the Venezuelan State admitted last year in the examination before the International Committee on the Rights of Children and Adolescents in Geneva. There isn´t a massive and adequate approach to regress this problem. Education is needed not only to prevent the early pregnancy, but also for the responsible sexuality. This is a challenge.
5. Quality is a pending issue of the Venezuelan education. Having well-trained managers, professional supervisors who can accompany and having a quality evaluation system is a challenge.
6. 100% of children age of early education is not being attended. According to official data, from every 100 children 23 are outside the system at this age. A major challenge is to universalize the early childhood education. In the Middle Education is a major gap that must be covered as well. It is a challenge building the necessary spaces to guarantee the right to education and providing the necessary resources.

7. Against the problem of the rentier mentality and the productivity crisis, the challenge is to educate for entrepreneurship and productive work, to assure graduates to creatively solve problems, generate quality services and have the skills for productive work.
8. The classrooms also are left without students, especially in Middle Education. Against school dropouts, the challenge is to update the Middle Education curriculum, so it can be relevant, useful, once again, attractive, along with improving school climate.

World Humanitarian Summit Marks Key Moment for Education in Emergencies

World Humanitarian Summit Marks Key Moment for Education in Emergencies

  • Posted: Jun 13, 2016 -
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After two years of worldwide consultations, last month over 9,000 participants came together in Istanbul for the first World Humanitarian Summit to chart the future course of humanitarian action. The Summit brought together 173 United Nations Member States, 55 Heads of State and Governments, some 350 private sector representatives, and over 2,000 people from civil society and non-governmental organizations.

This tremendous gathering of humanitarian practitioners, together with policymakers, created an historic opportunity to raise awareness about the important role that education plays in rebuilding lives during and after conflict, and its unique role in bridging an ever-present gap between humanitarian and development actors.

Education was at the forefront of the Summit proceedings with a series of side events addressing challenges and innovations in delivering education in emergencies and protracted crises. Jesuit Refugee Service, alongside UNRWA, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), the Global Campaign for Education, TheirWorld and War Child, hosted one such event entitled Delivering Quality Education in Emergencies: What Needs to Be Done? This event featured practitioners, philanthropists and champions advocating on behalf of increasing access to a quality education for refugees and the forcibly displaced.

A Special Session on Education in Emergencies followed and featured the launch of Education Cannot Wait, which aims to transform the global education sector for children affected by crisis by focusing specifically on meeting their educational needs. This effort will both mobilize and coordinate support for these critical programs, which currently only receive two percent of humanitarian funding.

At the launch event, representatives from the United Kingdom ($43.8 million), the United States ($20 million), Norway ($11.2 million), the European Union ($5.6 million), the Netherlands ($7.8 million) and philanthropy Dubai Cares ($2.5 million) pledged just over $90 million to the new Fund. Other governments, including Canada and France, delivered supportive statements but have not yet made a financial commitment.

We applaud champions, including former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for spearheading efforts to launch Education Cannot Wait and for those donors who have supported this effort through their initial commitments.  Yet, we must do more.

Education Cannot Wait has an initial goal of raising $150 million in its first year so that it can adequately begin to address gaps in delivering education programs to those in need. The next pledge “moment” may present itself at a Summit set to take place on September 20 in New York City during the UN General Assembly. The Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, organized by the Obama Administration, will take place on the margins of the UN General Assembly. The Summit will convene Heads of State and Government who have made new and significant commitments this year to address the global refugee crisis.

The collective goals of the Summit are to increase funding to international humanitarian organizations and UN humanitarian appeals; increase opportunities for resettlement and other forms of legal admission for refugees; and expand access to employment and education for refugees in major refugee-hosting states. By including education as a key outcome of this Summit, we can continue building momentum towards achieving goals set forth by Education Cannot Wait.

In the midst of the highest levels of forced displacement the world has seen since World War II, we are seeing unprecedented levels of political will to address these tremendous challenges. As we recognize the historic opportunity presented in the new Education Cannot Wait Fund and look towards this September’s Leaders’ Summit, we must continue to have at the forefront of our minds those individuals, families and communities we are seeking to serve by creating greater opportunity for a quality education.

Giulia McPherson is the Assistant Director for Policy at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. She leads the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts as they relate to global education and U.S. asylum policies and oversees a community engagement program to educate and mobilize advocates. Giulia can be reached at gmcpherson@jesuits.org or @giuliamcpherson.

Supervising the Education Fund for Emergencies: GCE statement

Supervising the Education Fund for Emergencies: GCE statement

  • Posted: Jun 02, 2016 -
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The Global Campaign for Education, in which several institutions of the Society of Jesus are involved, welcomes the launch of the Education Cannot Wait fund for education in emergencies, which was announced at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, 23-24 May 2016.

In the official statement, just released today , the GCE welcomes these pledges and will be holding governments to account by analysing these commitments in the coming days. It is crucial to ensure that new monies have been pledged, and that countries supporting the new Fund do not double-count commitments, such as those made during the February 2016 Syria Conference, or draw back their support from existing mechanisms, such as the Global Partnership for Education.

The European Union, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all made financial contributions for the first year of the fund so far, with Denmark indicating its willingness to make a financial contribution in 2017. The fund’s target for the first year is US$150 million, with an overall ambition of achieving $3.5 billion over a five-year period; by the close of the World Humanitarian Summit, just over 50% of the year one target had been pledged.

Similarly, GCE urges those governments making pledges to the new fund to commit to delivering the vision of equitable, inclusive and free quality education to which they have pledged for every child in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Education 2030 Framework for Action; all children, young people and adults have the same rights, and these rights should not be compromised for those living in crisis contexts. We particularly call on governments to ensure that public funds dedicated to education are used for quality, public provision and systems, and not to support for-profit private companies seeking to draw financial profit from humanitarian crises. This practice, known as ‘disaster capitalism’, has already been applied in several cases and contexts, and has proven to be profoundly detrimental to the realisation of human rights. For the right to education, it places quality, equity, and inclusion in serious jeopardy.

GCE also welcomes the fund’s commitment to being inclusive and transparent in its own governance. We call on the fund to adhere to the principle of engaging with and including civil society, both in its own governance arrangements and in its ways of working on the ground. The voice of citizens is vital to ensuring that its work is well-informed, and held accountable by those it seeks to serve.

GCE submitted its own pledge to the World Humanitarian Summit. The pledge encompassed building civil society capacity in countries afflicted by disaster and conflict to ensure citizens are involved in sector planning in and for such contexts, as well as monitoring education financing and delivery. At local, national, regional and international levels, GCE is also committed to advocating for increased and additional resources for education in emergencies and crises, and monitoring such commitments and delivery of services.

The statement above can be downloaded in English

Immigrant youngsters detention: neglecting the right to education in USA

Immigrant youngsters detention: neglecting the right to education in USA

  • Posted: Jun 01, 2016 -
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Thursday, Jan. 28, was a cold morning in Durham, North Carolina. Wildin David Guillen Acosta went outside to head to school, but never made it. He was thrown to the ground and arrested by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He has been in detention ever since. Wildin, now 19 years old, fled his home in Olancho, Honduras more than two years ago. He was detained when crossing the border, but, as he was a minor at the time, he was allowed to join his family in North Carolina, USA. He started out at Riverside High School, and was set to graduate this June. He wanted to become an engineer. Instead, he has been locked up in the notorious Stewart Detention Center in rural Lumpkin, Georgia, which is run by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America.

Wildin is just one of hundreds of thousands of children who have fled the violence of Central America in recent years, either alone or, often, with their mothers. They come primarily from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Honduras is now one of the world’s most violent countries, and Olancho has one of the highest murder rates there, causing many to flee. The U.S. Army and the Drug Enforcement Administration both have special-forces units permanently stationed there, joining in counternarcotics operations that have also killed Hondurans.

Wildin was arrested in part of a series of immigration raids, dubbed “Operation Border Guardian.” Many believe its intent was to create fear among those still in Central America who might consider taking the perilous journey north to the U.S. “As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said at the time. “If you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values.” Immediately after Wildin’s arrest, family, friends, classmates and teachers at Riverside High demonstrated their values, rallying to support him and five others who were similarly arrested. The group of imprisoned youth is often referred to as the “NC6.” Durham’s Human Relations Commission appealed to ICE to release him, as did the Durham City Council.

Wildin’s request for asylum was denied, and on March 19, an immigration judge denied his appeal to reopen his case. He was set for deportation back to Honduras on March 20. However, bowing to the enormous public pressure brought by this youth-led grass-roots organizing, ICE Director Sarah Saldana issued an order that morning, delaying his deportation. Wildin’s case for asylum is before the Board of Immigration Appeals, a process that could take months or even years to resolve.

Wildin Acosta remains locked up in ICE’s private prison in Georgia. His request that his schoolwork be sent to him was initially denied. After public outcry, the warden relented. Many high-school students get detention for refusing to study. Wildin is stuck in permanent detention, and he has to fight for his right to study. That is determination and commitment Jeh Johnson and everyone at ICE should agree is “consistent with our values.”

News originally posted in democracynow.org by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan.

The Humanitarian Summit: Education Fund and Safe Schools Declaration

The Humanitarian Summit: Education Fund and Safe Schools Declaration

  • Posted: May 26, 2016 -
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The First Humanitarian Summit that has taken place this week in Istanmbul has come to an end and different actors have accompanied and served the process to make feasible an Education Fund to provide education in emergencies; the Jesuit Refugee Service, under the lead of its Director Tom Smolich SJ organized a side event on quality education called: Delivering quality education: What needs to be done? in collaboration with other education organizations like Educate a Child, Save the Children International, MBC Hope and Dubai Cares.

UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, welcomed the new Education Cannot Wait—a fund for education in emergencies that was launched at a special session of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in the presence of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Fund’s immediate aim is to raise $3.85 billion over the next five years to reach 13.6 million children whose education has been disrupted by conflict and other humanitarian emergencies. The Fund is expected to reach 75 million children and youth by 2030. One in four of the world’s school-aged children, nearly half a billion, live in countries affected by crisis. They are either missing out on their education, receiving poor quality schooling or run the risk of dropping out of school.

On its behalf, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is gratified the international community made a commitment to education through this Fund, which follows on the heels of the JRS Global Education Initiative launched last December.

“Education Cannot Wait is an important step forward in helping to ensure that the most vulnerable and disenfranchised have access to an education,” said Jesuit Refugee Service International Director Fr Thomas H Smolich SJ in Istanbul. “JRS feels education is always part of any emergency situation.”

Dean Brooks, Director of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, said, “we’ve been fighting to get to a moment like this for a very long time, so many people and organizations have come together to create this moment.”

In the report Providing Hope, Investing in the Future: Education in Emergencies & Protracted Crises, JRS confirms that education is a life-saving intervention for children and adolescents who are forcibly displaced from their homes. For decades, in emergencies where many agencies provide basic humanitarian assistance, JRS has been on the ground organizing educational and recreational activities to heal trauma, promote human dignity, and build skills.

The new Fund aligns with UNESCO’s work as the lead UN agency entrusted with the coordination of Sustainable Development Goal 4, “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

A policy paper, ‘No more excuses’, released ahead the World Humanitarian Summit published by UNESCO shows that only 50% of refugee children are in primary school and 25% of refugee adolescents are in secondary school.

At governamental level, The Safe Schools Declaration, developed through state consultations led by Norway and Argentina in Geneva throughout the first half of 2015, provides states the opportunity to express broad political support for the protection and continuation of education in armed conflict, and is the instrument for states to endorse and commit to implement the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. The Declaration was opened for endorsement at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools convened by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 29, 2015. A first group of 37 states endorsed it that day and that number has since grwon up to 53 after de Summit.

All efforts at different levels are welcome to make the effective right to education for everyone in the emergencies and protacted crisis contexts.

Investing in the Future: Why Education in Emergencies Cannot Wait

Investing in the Future: Why Education in Emergencies Cannot Wait

  • Posted: May 19, 2016 -
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Nora’s story is not unique. When she was three years old, she fled violence in Darfur, Sudan with her family and has been living in a refugee camp in Eastern Chad ever since. Going to school was not an obvious path for her. She sells biscuits in the market to help support her family and many girls like her are not in school.

In fact, 75 million children and adolescents aged 3-18 have had their education directly affected by emergencies and protracted crises. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only 50 percent of refugees or internally displaced persons are enrolled in primary school, 25 percent in lower secondary school, and very few have access to pre-primary or tertiary education.

On May 23 & 24, global leaders will gather in Istanbul, Turkey for the inaugural World Humanitarian Summit where a new initiative to mobilize support for education in emergencies will be launched.  Education Cannot Wait, a fund for education in emergencies will look to transform the global education sector for children affected by crises by focusing specifically on meeting their educational needs.

Nora, now 14 years old, is enrolled in a school run by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), a nonprofit organization rooted in the Jesuit tradition of educating young people. JRS currently operates education programs in more than 25 countries serving over 110,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.

In a new report – Providing Hope, Investing in the Future – JRS identifies a series of barriers faced by displaced families and children, including lack of legal status, poor infrastructure and lack of materials, change in language or curriculum, discrimination, significant learning gaps and dealing with the effects of trauma.

To address these barriers, JRS implements several key strategies, including:

  • Parental Involvement to Ensure Access and Retention
  • A Holistic Approach that Meets All Student Needs
  • Complementary Programs for Parents and Families
  • Investment in Teacher Training and Tertiary Education
  • Emphasis on Language Skills and Remedial Education
  • Youth Programming Focused on Life Skills and Leadership Training

Past investments in educational progress are in jeopardy as we face a record number of long-standing conflicts and resulting global displacement. At this important time, JRS calls on donors, governments and the humanitarian and development communities to take action. Access to education must be prioritized in all stages of humanitarian response with a focus on effective transitions to long-term sustainable solutions, in particular for protracted crises.

We must leverage the Education Cannot Wait Fund and other opportunities to address the lack of access to education for the forcibly displaced. Children like Nora are waiting for the opportunity to go to school and create a future for themselves and their families.

 

Giulia McPherson is the Assistant Director for Policy at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. In this capacity, she leads the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts as they relate to global education and U.S. asylum policies and oversees a community engagement program to educate and mobilize advocates. Giulia can be reached at gmcpherson@jesuits.org or @giuliamcpherson.

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