Damascus/Amman, 26 November 2013 – Despite extraordinary challenges associated with the on-going conflict, UNICEF-supported school clubs in Syria have reached close to 290,000 children with remedial education and recreation activities.
The conflict is taking a serious toll on school infrastructure, limiting education opportunities for children across the country. Over 4,000 schools — or one in five — are either damaged or destroyed, or being used to shelter displaced families.
Somali children who once would have bypassed schooling to herd their families’ animals are now busy studying, thanks to a programme focused on rural and pastoralist communities.
SOMALILAND, Somalia, 25 November 2013 – Somali children who once would have bypassed schooling to herd animals are now receiving a basic education, thanks in part to a UNICEF programme focused on rural and pastoralist communities.
Since the programme began in March 2012, more than 3,000 children have been educated, according to Save the Children, which is implementing the UNICEF project.
“I wouldn’t have had a good future”
Nearly 45 per cent of those children are girls – like 13-year-old Ayen Noor Mohamed, who attends Xareed Primary School in Somaliland.
Ayen comes from an agro-pastoralist community in the Xareed area, a dry and sparsely populated region about an hour outside of Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa. She and her classmates study English, Somali, maths, social studies and science.
“Without school, I wouldn’t have had a good future. I would have just herded animals,” she says.
Maths is Ayen’s favorite subject, and she’s already found use for her new knowledge outside the classroom. “My family has a small shop, and I help with the calculations when I’m there,” she says.
Ayen is working hard. She says she wants to go to university one day, and study management so she can help her community manage its resources. Until then, she has time to help around the house and the shop. Class begins at 7:30 and ends at 12:30, including a 30-minute recess.
“[After school], I will do my house chores and help my mother, then I’ll move around herding our cattle,” Ayen says.
Education to “help you and strengthen you”
Ayen’s father, Nor Mohammed Yusuf, donated land for the school, he says, “so that my children and other children can get an education”.
Some mornings he walks Ayen and three of her siblings to school from their home, more than 40 minutes away. Many students walk 4–5 km to school each day.
“Education is something that can help you and strengthen you in every level of life,” he explains.
Ayen is fortunate to receive such strong support from her family. Many families here believe an adolescent girl is too old to go to school any longer, according to Xareed Primary School Head Teacher Ahmad Hassan Adan.
But, that attitude is slowly changing. Since Xareed Primary opened, Mr. Adan has seen a major shift in the community’s attitude towards female education, and about half of the school’s students are now girls.
“I try to contact each parent and try to make them understand the importance of education,” he says.
“I would have been illiterate”
Xareed Primary was built in 2010 by the Somaliland Ministry of Education, together with UNICEF and Save the Children, with the support of the European Union.
The Basic Education for Pastoralist Children programme has employed 57 teachers, trained by Save the Children. The programme has also built 26 classrooms and renovated 10.
Of course, girls aren’t the only ones benefitting from the new classrooms. Abdirashid Hussein Muhumad, 16, says he plans on going to university and studying to become an accountant.
Many students like Abdirashid are older than would be typical for their grades because they haven’t previously had a chance to study. He does not like to think about what might have happened to his life if the school hadn’t arrived.
“I would have been illiterate, and illiteracy is like darkness,” he says.
Three experts talk about why integrating peace education into early childhood education has a positive long-term effect on peace.
NEW YORK, United States of America, 19 November 2013 – Evidence shows that the early years of life are strong predictors for individual health and development, as well as cognitive and social-emotional development.
In this podcast, we spoke with three experts who believe that integrating peace education into early childhood education has a positive long-term effect on peace. Kyle D. Pruett is a Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University, Michael Evans is the Founder and Executive Director of Full Court Peace – an organization that brings together young people in at-risk communities through basketball – and Siobhan Fitzpatrick is Chief Executive of Early Years, an organization based in Northern Ireland that promotes high-quality child care.
The four-year Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) Programme – a partnership among UNICEF, the Government of the Netherlands, national governments and other key partners – is an innovative, cross-sectoral programme aimed at bolstering policies and practices around education for peacebuilding. It focuses on strengthening resilience, social cohesion and human security in conflict-affected contexts, including countries at risk of or recovering from conflict. The PBEA programme currently operates in 14 countries: Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, State of Palestine, Uganda and Yemen.
In October, UNICEF met with the Government of the Netherlands to review programme results in 2012 as well as discuss opportunities and challenges moving forward. On 21 October, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF hosted the Peacebuilding and Education Symposium to explore the contribution of education to security and rule of law in post-conflict states. On 23 October, the IS Academie on Education and International Development hosted The Practice of Peacebuilding and Education, where UNICEF staff presented their experiences on the ground in implementing the PBEA programme.
ADANA, Turkey, 8 November 2013 – When Muhammed Ismael, 41, first arrived in Turkey from Edlib, in the Syrian Arab Republic, he did not want just to sit idle. After settling in the Altinozu camp in Hatay, the father of six decided to put his skills and experience as an English language teacher in service to children who, like him, are living as refugees.
He now works as a volunteer teacher in the camp, and he sees his role as more than educational: “As a teacher, it’s very important to be attentive to your students,” he says. “Teachers displaying positive attitudes and instilling hope in children will greatly help them to overcome this hardship with minimum damage and grow up as healthier individuals.”
Violence and displacement in the Central African Republic are leaving lasting emotional and mental scars on thousands of children. Giving them space to feel safe and to express themselves is one way to help them find peace.
BOSSANGOA, Central African Republic, 7 November 2013 – Like most children, 13-year-old Felicia loves to draw. But her drawings are not the usual happy scenes of school and family and friends. In vivid colours, she draws a man lying on the ground dead, houses burned down, and men carrying weapons. For a young girl forced to flee for her life several times in recent months, the memories of violence are still fresh.