Addis Ababa, December 8 (IPS) – A silent disaster is unfolding in Ethiopia amid years of community conflict and the longest and most severe drought in recent years. High inflation and food insecurity in the drought-ravaged country are among the worst in the world.
The danger of losing an entire generation of children is imminent as the wrath and conflict of nature impedes and undermines access to education, school infrastructure, and educational administrative systems. power. Girls, especially adolescent girls, children with disabilities and displaced children, are most at risk.
Graham Lang, Director of Education Can’t Wait (ECW) for the Summit Finance and Education Director, visited Ethiopia on a joint high-level mission that included Anne Bethe Tvinnereim, Minister of National Development of Norway and Birgitte Lange, Executive Director of Save the Children Norway to meet pressing educational needs.
“Ethiopia is facing one of the biggest education crises in the world. The government estimates more than 13 million children are out of school. Of these 13 million, 3.6 million are out of school due to conflict and climate-related emergencies. This number has grown from 3.1 million children in just a few months,” Lang told IPS.
“It is estimated that the worst drought in four decades is currently affecting 1.6 million children, of which more than 500,000 have now dropped out of school. In addition, there are more than 430,000 refugee children, of which nearly 60% do not go to school.”
He said the scale of the crisis is growing amazingly and rapidly. In this context, Lang, Tvinnereim and Lange visited schools and communities that benefit from comprehensive educational support funded by ECW and implemented in partnership with UNICEF, Save the Children of Ethiopia. and local partners to support the Government.
“Education in crisis and conflict is a top priority for the Norwegian government. In particular, in conflict, girls drop out of school. “This field visit showed us that if you manage to get children back in school, they will ultimately help build the society they live in,” says Tvinnereim.
ECW has invested $55 million in Ethiopia to date, has reached more than 275,000 children to date, and is about to approve an additional $5 million to respond to the drought. This mission is an opportunity to highlight needs, not only in Ethiopia but globally, and to further highlight the ongoing effort to get children back in school and keep them there.
The funding that ECW provides through its multi-year rehabilitation program supports the construction and restoration of safe and protective learning environments such as schools, restrooms, and canteens.
“It has also supported sex clubs. We watch boys and girls discuss issues like gender-based violence and menstrual health management. Challenging longstanding norms around educating girls and empowering a new generation of girls to speak out for their needs and fight for their right to education,” Lang explains.
“The delegation also saw ‘speed schools’ – an innovative program – where, through a condensed program, over-aged children can complete three years of primary education in just ten months. These children can then re-enter the system in 4th grade. A lifeline for children who have dropped out of school because of conflict-related violence and displaced or climate change.”
The delegation also met with climate clubs where children and young people are discussing the effects of climate change, a real and visible phenomenon in Ethiopia, and on 1.6 million children. I was forced to drop out of school due to the drought.
Providing a school meal a day is a powerful factor in attracting children to school and keeping them there, Lang asserts. ECW is also supporting community engagement, including community leaders, parents, and teacher engagement to encourage children to return to school and stay in school.
The mission could clearly see the impact of these ongoing efforts on affected children and host communities. For instance, Lang said enrollment in target schools has increased dramatically, in some cases tripling and in other cases even quadrupling.
“The main challenge we see is funding at the global level, for example, for funds like ECW and at the national level through donor governments, private sector organizations and other means. This is an important issue,” Lang emphasized.
“The actual partners are working with the government to launch activities and create the desired tangible changes. They have the capacity, commitment and ability to scale up these actions so that all children benefit, but do not have the funds.”
ECW is committed to supporting crisis-affected communities in Ethiopia and beyond to reach as many vulnerable children as possible within funding. In this regard, Lang spoke about ECW’s new strategic plan for 2023/2026, starting in January, through which ECW aims to reach 20 million children over the next four years.
To do that, ECW needs at least $1.5 billion to provide safe, inclusive, quality education to 20 million children. To launch action towards raising much needed $1.5 billion, Education can’t wait Financial Summit will take place in Geneva on 16 and 17 February 2023.
Organized by Switzerland and Education Cannot Wait – and co-hosted by Colombia, Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan – the conference calls for government donors, the private sector, foundations and high-income individuals turn commitments into action by contributing substantial funding to ECW to realize #222 Million dreams.
Report of the UN IPS Office
© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service