UNICEF accelerates support to education as school term starts across the Horn of Africa

 

UNICEF accelerates support to education as school term starts across the Horn of Africa

Global News 00:43

NAIROBI/ HONG KONG, 9 September 2011 As a new academic term began this week in countries affected by the on-going drought in the Horn of Africa, UNICEF is accelerating efforts to help children fully benefit from education.

“In addition to providing children with a basic education, schools and children’s centres also play an important role to deliver life-saving messages on nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and health education- all of which are essential in the Horn of Africa today,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Elhadj As Sy.“In camps for refugees and displaced persons especially, schools become accessible to girls and other vulnerable children who may have never stepped inside a classroom before.”

“In affected communities, places of learning also ensure access to clean water, sanitation, and feeding programmes and provide a safe space for children to protect them from violence and exploitative practices.” added Mr. Sy.

On 5 September, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Youssou NDour (second from right) listens to children sing at Illeys Primary School, in the Dagahaley refugee camp in the north-eastern town of Dadaab. The school is operated by the NGO Care International.  From 5 to 7 September 2011, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Youssou NDour visited Kenya to focus renewed attention on the regions drought crisis, which continues to threaten the lives of 12.4 million people across the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, the number of people who are food insecure has increased from 2.4 million to 3.75 million, and food prices are at a record high. Some 385,000 children and 90,000 pregnant and lactating women now suffer from acute malnutrition in the countrys arid and semi-arid areas, and nationwide, the percentage of children at risk of acute malnutrition is growing. Cholera, dysentery, malaria and measles have been reported in the country, and rural communities are experiencing widespread livestock losses and conflict over pasturelands and water. A concurrent humanitarian crisis is unfolding in northern Kenya, where over 400,000 Somali refugees  56 per cent of them children  have sought shelter in the Dadaab refugee camps. Mr. NDour, a world-renowned singer and long-time child advocate, visited refugees at the Dadaab camps, where UNICEF supports immunization efforts, therapeutic feeding and temporary learning spaces for children. He also visited the camps host community in the drought-affected town of Labisigale, where UNICEF provides water and sanitation services. UNICEF, together with the Government, UN, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions throughout the region. A joint United Nations appeal for humanitarian assistance for the region requires US $2.4 billion, of which 59 per cent has been funded to date. A majority of UNICEFs portion of the appeal has been funded. On 1 September, a boy reads during the first day of classes at Yathrib Primary School, in the eastern town of Garissa. UNICEF is increasing its support to schools in drought-affected areas, distributing education kits to schools, bedding and mosquito nets to boarding schools, and temporary learning centres to refugee camps.  From 5 to 7 September 2011, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Youssou NDour visited Kenya to focus renewed attention on the regions drought crisis, which continues to threaten the lives of 12.4 million people across the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, the number of people who are food insecure has increased from 2.4 million to 3.75 million, and food prices are at a record high. Some 385,000 children and 90,000 pregnant and lactating women now suffer from acute malnutrition in the countrys arid and semi-arid areas, and nationwide, the percentage of children at risk of acute malnutrition is growing. Cholera, dysentery, malaria and measles have been reported in the country, and rural communities are experiencing widespread livestock losses and conflict over pasturelands and water. A concurrent humanitarian crisis is unfolding in northern Kenya, where over 400,000 Somali refugees  56 per cent of them children  have sought shelter in the Dadaab refugee camps. Mr. NDour, a world-renowned singer and long-time child advocate, visited refugees at the Dadaab camps, where UNICEF supports immunization efforts, therapeutic feeding and temporary learning spaces for children. He also visited the camps host community in the drought-affected town of Labisigale, where UNICEF provides water and sanitation services. UNICEF, together with the Government, UN, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions throughout the region. A joint United Nations appeal for humanitarian assistance for the region requires US $2.4 billion, of which 59 per cent has been funded to date. A majority of UNICEFs portion of the appeal has been funded.

These are the opportunities that we must maximise as we continue our focus on health, nutrition and other urgent priorities.Already ahead of the new term, UNICEF has provided key support to the education system in the countries affected by the crisis:

Continuation of education against drought

– In Kenya, many schools remained open during the vacation period in drought-affected areas, enabling some 1.2 million children to access feeding programmes. 155 schools in Somalia, reaching 37,000 internally displaced children, were also supported by UNICEF to remain open over the school break.

– In Somalia, since the start of this year UNICEF has been supporting schools for internally displaced children and those from host communities and in their places of origin for some 120,000 children. That support will expand in coming months to meet the needs of over 300,000 children.

Setting up Child-friendly spaces and learning spaces

– UNICEF’s education partners in Somalia are establishing more than 210 child-friendly spaces reaching up to 15,000 children, with water and sanitation facilities and psychosocial support provided and food vouchers distributed to children. In collaboration with child protection partners, a total of 350 child friendly spaces for 30,000 children will be up and running by 15 September.

– In Ethiopia, UNICEF and its partners have provided temporary child friendly learning spaces and education materials and supplies for some 8,000 girls and boys, as well as supporting the construction of four primary schools in the Dollo Ado refugee camps and two in host communities. Some 140 teachers have been assisted with training, including 120 from amongst the refugee population, including a focus on peace education and psychosocial support for students.

Increased provision of school supplies

– In Kenya, UNICEF and its partners havebeen providing equipment and supplies including beds, mattresses, classroom materials and recreation kits for over 60,000 children to date, in schools and early-learning centres that have enrolled large displaced populations.

– In the Dadaab refugee camps in north-eastern Kenya, UNICEF has been supporting accelerated education classes for children to prepare for the new school term and is providing school tents and materials to help meet the expected increased demand for classes.

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The current drought in the Horn of Africa has posed significant challenges to education services in all affected countries.In central and south Somalia, an estimated 1.8 million children are out of school because of internal displacement and insecurity, while in drought-affected areas of Kenya, where many refugees have sought aid, communities are under pressure to accommodate new students – more than one in four schools in these areas are struggling to absorb the increased number of students now seeking education.