As children throughout the world awake each morning to face yet another day, they do so under such different circumstances that it is hard to imagine. Some children wake up in a comfortable bed with a certainty of three meals that day; are healthy, being educated; have a say in their life; and have access to many amenities among other things. Approximately one-fifth of the world’s children however, are less fortunate, with little or no shelter, contented if they have one meal in that day; their parents are unemployed, their health is poor and their prospects for a better life are very bleak.
Like some say, no one who has not experienced poverty will know what it feels like to retire home to a footpath at night or no home at all, having been on the roads begging all day, tired and hungry; to know that the only water one can drink or bathe in is full of pathogens; not to be able to go to school or play unburdened with worries and fears. Such is the reality for millions of children every day.
A recent article on the Global Partnership for Education site caught my interest as it brought attention to the educational plight of children who are displaced from their homes as a result of crises, conflict and/or natural disasters. The statistics are staggering: 175 million* children being affected by environmental disasters annually, and at least a further 15 million** children displaced or living as refugees every year, making up part of the estimated 230 million** children who live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts.
In the face of such alarming numbers, Save the Children has published a May 2015 report titled, ‘More and Better: Global action to improve funding, support and collaboration for education in emergencies‘ which recommends three principles for supporting the education of children during emergencies, crises and conflicts:
- More and better funding
More and better support
More and better collaboration and commitment
The report states: “Doing all of this will be essential if we have any chance of ensuring the children affected by conflict, natural disasters and pandemic diseases are to enjoy their right to an inclusive and equitable quality education.”
I welcome the publication of this report, with cautious optimism as it comes to world attention at a critical juncture for global educational goals. Indeed, last week, a new global education goal was proposed at the World Education Forum in Korea. This new ambitious goal replaces the education Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and will become part of the Sustainable Development Goals. It proposes to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.”
My hope is that whatever the final wording of the goal and its related parameters of achievement, due attention will also be given to the education of children whose lives are affected by natural disasters, war and strife.
Saneeya Qureshi © 2015