U.S. Takes Steps to Prioritize Global Education

U.S. Takes Steps to Prioritize Global Education

  • Posted: Feb 01, 2017 -
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By: Giulia McPherson, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

While the world watches as a new Congress and Administration assume power in the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives recently took an important step forward in prioritizing global access to education.

The Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act, or READ Act, formerly known as the Education for All Act, came close to passage in 2016. Yet, lawmakers ran out of time and the bill did not become law under the Obama Administration. With the start of a new Congress, champions for global education quickly reintroduced the bill on January 23 and the House of Representatives passed it the following day.

The READ Act was developed to help address the need for access to education for the globally displaced by ensuring that the U.S. has a comprehensive, integrated strategy that improves global educational opportunities for vulnerable children, including those affected by conflict and other emergencies; and facilitates improved coordination within the U.S. government via a Senior Coordinator of U.S. International Basic Education Assistance.

Of the six million primary and secondary school-age refugees under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 3.7 million are not in school. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children, as the obstacles to full access to education are considerable. Yet, during emergencies and in protracted crises, schools are essential for healing and health and provide opportunity and hope for the future.

I was recently in Chad, home to more than 300,000 refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan who fled war and violence over a decade ago. With no hope in sight of return to Darfur as the region remains unstable, education is one of the only long-term solutions for refugees unsure of their futures.

In the midst of a global refugee crisis and funding stretched thin, I saw students eager to learn even without buildings, desks or books. Teachers are doing their best, with meager resources, to ensure that the next generation at least have access to education, but quality is not guaranteed. Jesuit Refugee Service is working to address this challenge by educating nearly 33,000 refugee students through preschool and primary schools in eight camps, and secondary schools in five camps.


Over the past year, JRS/USA has mobilized thousands of people across the U.S. to express their support for refugee education and continued U.S. engagement in ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to a quality education. With passage in the House of Representatives, we now look forward passage in the Senate and working with Congress and the Administration to fully realize the benefits of the READ Act, which will move us one step closer to ensuring that no one is denied the right to an education.


Giulia McPherson is the Director of Advocacy & Operations at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, based in Washington, DC. She can be reached at or @GiuliaMcPherson.


Actions of the CPAL’s Education Sector towards “Right to education, Right to Hope” Campaign in 2017

Actions of the CPAL’s Education Sector towards “Right to education, Right to Hope” Campaign in 2017

  • Posted: Jan 27, 2017 -
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Ensuring the right to a quality education is a prior issue for the education sector in the Conference of Jesuits Provincials in Latin America (CPAL) and in the common work agenda of the belonging networks. Due to some aspects such as the impact of education in poverty reduction and income and gender inequalities, as well as the promotion of social justice and care of the planet, for example, the aforesaid right has become the main challenge for the Latin America educational apostolate.

In April 2016, the CPAL’s Delegate of Education joined to the International Federation of Fe y Alegría Coordinator, presidents of the Latin America Federation of Jesuits schools (FLACSI) and the Association of Universities Entrusted to the Society of Jesus in Latin America (AUSJAL), agreed to create a Networking Group (GT).

The aim of this group is to improve the coordination among the different areas of the sector and with this, to promote shared activities oriented to make an impact in the wide educational community of the continent. Among the fields where the actions should be implemented in, the right to a quality education is the main priority.

In this context, GT proposed to face this challenge by contributing jointly in the “Right to Education, Right to Hope” campaign, promoted by the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN). Accordingly, the enhancement of this initiative in Latin America will contribute to the globalization of the actions that support the right to a quality education for everyone.

In order to make it possible, the CPAL’s education sector as a whole, with the support of the coordinators of the campaign, will develop a set of actions that stimulate awareness, discussion and knowledge production throughout 2017, with a view to spreading the call for taking concrete measures to ensure this right. Last September, the initiative that gathered all these actions was officially endorsed by the managers of the CPAL’s education sector and its implementation is being defined right now.

The planned activities will be published in all the different means available of the sector, expecting to have a wide participation towards the contribution in this central issue for the welfare of Latin America and the whole world.

About the authors: Education Sector Team Work of the Conference of Jesuits Provincials in Latin America (CPAL) composed by: Susana Ditrolio – Exectuve Secretary, AUSJAL, Felipe Crudele – Project Director, AUSJAL, Martha Liliana Nieto – Project Officer, Fe y Alegría, Maritza Barrios – Education Sector, CPAL, Juan Felipe Carrillo – Executive Secretary, FLACSI. 


JRS USA advocates to ensure refugeed children education

JRS USA advocates to ensure refugeed children education

  • Posted: Jan 19, 2017 -
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Pending for update
(Washington, D.C.) December 5, 2016 — With only days to go before Congress concludes its current session, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on the Education for All Act (H.R.4481) on Tuesday, December 6. Approved by the House of Representatives in July, this is one of the final steps needed before this legislation can be signed into law. Please contact your Senator today!
Of the six million primary and secondary school-age refugees under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 3.7 million have no school to go to. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children, as the obstacles to full access to education are considerable. Yet, amid destruction, violence, and instability, school is a place of learning and opportunity, a sanctuary for healing and health, and provides a sense of normalcy and hope for the future.

The Education for All Act will ensure that the U.S. government effectively contributes to realizing quality education for children around the world, including those caught in conflict and crisis. This bipartisan legislation will reinforce the work of organizations like Jesuit Refugee Service by helping to ensure that individuals affected by conflict and other emergencies are not denied the opportunity to heal, learn and thrive.

International Children’s Rights day

International Children’s Rights day

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2016 -
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The United Nations General Assembly gathered, on November 20th 1952, with the objective of reaffirming children’s universal rights, rights that would be later adopted on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. Among its articles we could highlight number 7, in which it is stated that “The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages.”.

However, according to the latest data published by UNESCO, this is far from reality, as there are 61 million children of primary school age (between six and eleven years old) that are not enrolled in any educational program. This is equivalent to one out of eleven children around the world. This worldwide total number has not varied during the past five years; therefore, once again we can assert that education is still one of the matters where governments should focus their efforts.

Even though not every country celebrates the International Children’s Right day during the same date, this celebration has become an essential day for numerous countries around the world. Every year on November 20th the progresses achieved in this field is cherished, but above all, it is a day that works as an attention grabber in order to draw attention towards the situation of the most disadvantaged children worldwide, raise awareness about the children’s rights, and educate people about the importance of working everyday on the children’s wellbeing and development.

According to the Director-General, Irina Bokova, world leaders have promised to provide every child with a primary and secondary education by 2030. Nonetheless, the latest data from the UNESCO report shows the difficulty we are going to face if we are to really reach this goal. Moreover, she added that the main focus today should be on inclusion from the earliest age, try to overcome every obstacle that develops/shows up in their countries and pay special attention to girls, as they are still the ones who face the greatest disadvantage in many countries.

It is true that gender disparities in education participation have decreased significantly since 2000 and that the world shows a rapid convergence towards parity at the global level. Nevertheless, in 2014, among children of primary school age, about 1 out of 10 girls and 1 out of 12 boys were out of school. As stated by the latest UNESCO report regarding children not enrolled in any educational program, 15 million girls of primary-school age will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school, compared to about 10 million boys who are in the same situation.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the largest gender disparities; here, girls represent 54% of all out-of-school children and 53% of all out-of-school adolescents.

Another alarming fact published by this report shows that, worldwide, 41% of all out-of-school children (about 25 million children) have never attended school and will probably never go if current trends continue as we know them today. While the United Nations member States and donors work on widening the access to the higher education levels, they cannot set aside the millions of children who will never have the chance to go to a school.

In order to approach and try to understand the whole of these numbers and the situation of inequality that in the right to education is registered all over the world as well as the responsibility and the tasks in which each of us have in its enforceability, the materials of the campaign “Right to education, right to hope”  are available here and in four languages.

Recommendations to Advocate for the Right to Education: GIAN’s Declaration

Recommendations to Advocate for the Right to Education: GIAN’s Declaration

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2016 -
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The 36th General Congregation concluded last Saturday and, although we still don’t know the exact contents of the decrees, we are certain that the delegates have made decisions that will concern the modus operandi of all the people who work nowadays on Jesuit works in order to offer a quality education for millions of people.

How do the educative centers beyond the Society of Jesus  reach work? Nowadays 758 million of adults don’t know either to write or to read and 263 children and teenagers don’t go to school. The Final Document of the GIAN network’s meeting on the right of education – which took place last October at Madrid – reports this violation of the right to education that occurs in most countries.

The aim of this Document from the network is to draw attention to our commitment duty to a quality education for everyone, which means “we must allocate more and better resources for the most marginalized, including the extreme poor, women and girls, the displaced, indigenous communities and those with special needs”, among other things.

Furthermore it reminds us that education is a public good and that the Society of Jesus assumes a joint responsibility from its educational practice with different countries and multilateral bodies when it comes to turn this right into reality. According to the document “the Society of Jesus manages a public good from our educational networks (through both formal and non-formal programs) and plays a critical role in ensuring this right.”

The Document concludes with a list of recommendations for action addressed to the new Governance Body of the Society, to the Provincials and the Jesuit Conferences and to the Jesuit Institutions overall.

The Document is available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish clicking here.

Strenghten GIAN Right to Education core group meet in Madrid

Strenghten GIAN Right to Education core group meet in Madrid

  • Posted: Oct 27, 2016 -
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The Core Group of GIAN (Global Ignatian Advocacy Network) for the Right to Education comprised of representatives from different Conferences (CPAL, Europe, JESAM, South Asia, and Canada/USA) and international organisations (Fe y Alegría and JRS) working within the schools, universities and social organisations of the Society of Jesus met from 10 to 13 October 2016 in Madrid (Spain).

Throughout four days of work, the group reflected on the current state of global education and discussed how to encourage a more concrete commitment among Jesuit institutions to support the right to a quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

For this purpose, one of the first tasks were to update the positioning document on the right to education that was developed by a group of Jesuit organizations collectively committed with the education in 2008.

One of the aims of this network is to raise awareness at the inner Society about this essential right. Accordingly, some impact data, additional challenges, and the latest communicative outcomes were shared from the coordinating team. One of these outcomes was the video which was launched on June, 2016 as a tool to communicate the “Right of Education, Right to Hope Campaign”.

The Network is based on the urgent need of the access to the education of quality and in the priority of the Company to positively contribute to the greatest good. Due to this reason, it seems to be important to gradually increase the need of enhancing the group networking in support of the justice. In accordance, we could appreciate this issue in the international meeting, with Networking for Justice gathering, which took place in Loyola and where the global Jesuit networks that dedicate to the social apostleship got together.

In this sense, one of the major announcements has been the incorporation of new members to the core group coming from the United States and Latin America. As a result, the core group is actually formed by: Giulia McPherson (JRS USA), Jorge Cardoso (Europe – Social), Ricardo Angulo (JECSE – Europe), Luis Ugalde SJ (CPAL), Mª Eugenia Ocampo (CPAL-AUSJAL); William Muller SJ (USA- Canada Jesuit Schools Network), John Chathanatt SJ (South Asia), Augustin Kalubi SJ (JESAM) Carlos Fritzen SJ y Lucía Rodriguez (Fe y Alegría).

With this global perspective and in a participatory approach, we came up with the idea of how to work together in a network for the subsequent years. As a result, the first lines of action and planification of work were elaborated. In order to carry out this task, we completed a final document with the conclusions and requests which will be sent to the new Superior General, Arturo Sosa SJ and to his government group. The network addresses him with the hope of contribute to what it seems to be impossible in the current days, where there are 263 millions of children who are receiving no schooling education. More than half of this children are located in the South of Asia and Sub Saharan Africa and 61,9 millions of this children live in countries involved in conflict.

Educating for peace, the challenge Colombia must take on

Educating for peace, the challenge Colombia must take on

  • Posted: Sep 21, 2016 -
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The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, announced on August 25 the definitive ceasefire with FARC after delivering the peace agreement to Congress and request the convening of the plebiscite to endorse the agreements on October 2nd. In this climate of optimism we want to rescue the reflection of Oscar Sanchez, National Coordinator of EDUCAPAZ, National Program of Education for Peace, which focuses on rural education and citizenship education and former Secretary of Education of Bogotá on the role, importance and the challenges of education in these new times.

“Although it is not too difficult to understand that the lack of opportunities for young people is the basis of the reproduction of violence, the” factory of warriors “is wide open. More than 400,000 guerrillas, paramilitaries and above all professional soldiers, have swelled a contingent of boys (and girls lesser extent) as cannon fodder that have waged war for the past 50 years. Their profile is very accurate and well studied: from 11 or 12 years, these peasant children defected from a rural school system with little access and less sense, and almost without exception have suffered abuse in their families. Looking for a job opportunity as children, and be enlisted fighters becomes their life project.

From the rank and file fighters State and illegal armed groups, virtually none finished secondary education and very few went from elementary school. In Colombia overall coverage of secondary education is not particularly high. But these warriors come exactly in the geographical areas where  it is. … ..Allá Teachers do not get to take their places, or when they arrive is mostly unprepared boys without vocation. Right there transport and school meals are almost nonexistent. Pedagogy is very precarious, and models that the Ministry of Education offers little consult the reality, especially from the sixth grade. Schools have no water or energy. The system of protection for children is very precarious, and psychosocial counseling does not exist in schools or in community social promotion. Nor is there greater opportunities or social and labor, sports or cultural background. What most it reaches these areas is public forces (police and army) force illegal armed groups with a political idea (guerrillas and paramilitaries), or force of criminal groups who need young people for their businesses drug trafficking, smuggling or illegal extraction natural resources.

And meanwhile, the urban country continues to focus social policies, including education and child protection policies. Although only some cities reduce the risks of some of the boys end up in a youth gang in which the same fate of rural warriors. …… A highly segregated urban education makes specific groups of very violent schools in marginal areas are the most reproof, desertion and violence occur. In addition schools are under siege by gangs that feed the drug lords.

It is a pity that Colombia has not so far taken seriously initial postulate of the letter of Unesco, which states that since wars begin in the minds of men, is there must be constructed bastions of peace.

The hope is in organized communities, where social grassroots leaders, teachers and restless young people show every day a firm commitment to change reality. These beings are not the majority, but if they are many and they are wonderful. …… Across the country, in the hands of those leaders, to do social-emotional, civic education and for reconciliation. And in the most remote rural areas, a model of strengthening schools with community participation and a pedagogy that respects the context and trust the children and their teachers and teachers.

If that priority was clear, they would be investing some two million additional pesos ($ 700) a year for each of those boys in rural areas of the 150 municipalities most affected by the armed conflict. And if it were clear, while we have understood that knowledge and character formation are the most effective means for institutional stability and economic performance, but above all, are the only possible way to give freedom to people and make us we value each other. And we have understood the prohibitive for everyone to maintain a society where good education is a privilege cost.

A couple of years ago a group of organizations, on which Fe y Alegría Colombia is part, decided to take the road together for the outstanding work described here a reality. Then it created the National Program of Education for Peace -EDUCAPAZ-, which focuses on rural education and citizenship education, and which have begun to partner with some communities and schools to make a demonstrative work and define a strategy impact on education policies in the country and its territories. ”


Oscar Sanchez has worked more than 25 years in social-emotional, civic and political education and improve educational institutions and systems. He currently coordinates the National Program of Education for Peace in Colombia -Educapaz-. He was Secretary of Education of Bogotá between 2012 and 2015. Coordinated the Democratic Governance UNDP in his country. He has been an activist, teacher, official, advisor, social entrepreneur and columnist.

This article was extracted from the International Federation Fe y Alegría Newsletter – July, 2016. You can read the whole article here (in Spanish).

Refugee Summits Provide Historic Opportunity for Refugee Education

Refugee Summits Provide Historic Opportunity for Refugee Education

  • Posted: Sep 20, 2016 -
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By: Giulia McPherson

This week, world leaders are gathering in New York City for the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants and the U.S. Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, to agree on policies and set forth commitments that can create significant change in the lives of displaced children who are currently out of school. This presents an historic opportunity to ensure that education in emergencies and protracted crises is prioritized and to follow-up on previous pledges to invest additional resources in these critical programs.

According to a recent report released by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, more than half – 3.7 million – of the six million school-age children under its mandate have no school to go to. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children and only 50 percent have access to primary education, 22 percent attend lower secondary school and just one percent have access to higher education.

Following the May 2016 launch of Education Cannot Wait, a new fund for education in emergencies, the Refugee Summits provide an opportunity for the global community to further current initiatives that seek to bridge the gap in access to refugee education.

After several months of consultations, a draft New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants has been released, in advance of the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants taking place on September 19. The Declaration calls for the provision of quality primary and secondary education in safe learning environments for all refugee children within a few months of initial displacement. It also supports wider access to early childhood and tertiary education, as well as skills training and vocational education.

To complement this initiative, U.S. President Barack Obama is co-hosting a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on September 20, in partnership with the Governments of Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico and Sweden. This Summit will bring together leaders of Member States who are prepared to make new and significant commitments in 2016 that help address the most urgent needs of refugees.

The U.S. Leaders’ Summit aims to 1) increase humanitarian financing by 30 percent; 2) double the global number of resettled refugees; and 3) increase the number of refugees with the right to work by one million and increase the number of refugee children enrolled in school by one million. Organizers of the Leaders’ Summit are expecting both financial and political commitments by participating Member States that will help reach all three goals.

Civil society representatives have called on the UN, the U.S., and world leaders to consider a number of recommendations in advance of the September Summits. These include:

  • Fully funding the new Education Cannot Wait Fund;
  • Ensuring that commitments towards refugee education are new and the previous pledges are not double-counted;
  • Including education as a priority in humanitarian funding appeals;
  • Encouraging refugee-hosting governments to make commitments towards integrating refugee students and teachers into national school systems; and
  • Ensuring that a public accountability mechanism must be put in place to track Summit commitments, including regular public reporting on progress against commitments.


In addition, initial investments by the Education Cannot Wait fund are expected to be made next week in New York, which will also bolster support for, and awareness of, the critical need for education in times of crisis.

While the details have yet to unfold, 3.7 million refugee children are waiting for an answer to whether they will go to school this year. We must deliver on past promises and invest in their futures.

Giulia McPherson is the Assistant Director for Policy |Jesuit Refugee Service/USA You can follow her on Twitter.

Global Campaign for Education and JRS alerts on refugeed children

Global Campaign for Education and JRS alerts on refugeed children

  • Posted: Sep 09, 2016 -
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In advance of the September Refugee Summits that will take place in two weeks, the Global Campaign for Education – US along with the Jesuit Refugee Service and 80 others members of the civil society such as Global Citizen, Jesuit Refugee and US Fund for UNICEF are alerting on the need  to accelerate progress towards universal access to education for displaced children.

As civil society representatives, they call on the UN, the U.S., and world leaders to consider the following recommendations in advance of the September Summits:

  • Donor governments must follow-through and deliver the approximately $90 million in pledges made at the World Humanitarian Summit to the new Education Cannot Wait fund for education in emergencies.
  • Donor governments must commit to fully funding the first year of Education Cannot Wait by closing the $63 million gap needed to launch this critical platform, with an eye towards meeting the Fund’s 5-year financing plan of $3.85 billion.
  • Ensure that at least an additional one million refugees gain access to education as a result of the U.S. Leaders’ Summit and that previous pledges – including those made at the February 2016 Supporting Syria and the Region Conference – are not double-counted.
  • Include education as a priority in humanitarian funding appeals and close the current gap in funding for existing appeals. Only 26 percent of education sector financial needs have been met by international donors this year, resulting in a current gap of $469 million.
  • Advance priorities included in the July 29 Outcomes Document for the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, including greater access to early childhood education, tertiary education, skills training and vocational education for the displaced.
  • Refugee-hosting governments must make commitments towards integrating refugee students and teachers into national school systems, enacting flexible policies related to enrollment criteria and documentation and providing language support programs, if necessary, without discrimination.
  • A public accountability mechanism must be put in place to track Summit commitments, including regular public reporting on progress against commitments.

World leaders will gather for the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants (September 19) and U.S. Leaders’ Summit on Refugees (September 20) to agree on policies and set forth commitments that can create significant change in the lives of displaced children who are currently out of school. These Summits follow the May 2016 launch of Education Cannot Wait, a new fund for education in emergencies, which provides a concrete platform for action to address the gap in financing in this sector.

Here you can read the full statement.

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 :


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 .

ild-2016-infographic (1)

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