Out of global crises spring opportunities for change. In crisis, change is not an option. It is a necessity. And, as Plato famously noted: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Education Cannot Wait (ECW
) is an invention that sprang out of crisis and was borne of necessity.
Ismaila Badji could not bring himself to leave his house for weeks after returning to Senegal. “I failed twice; at school and on the road,” he said. “What's wrong with me? I'm still looking for the answer." After spending time in a Libyan detention centre, Badji returned to where he came from. He did not feel like himself, he lacked motivation and he suffered from stigma from the local community.
Teachers are at the heart of children and young peoples’ educational experiences. Teachers play multiple roles in their students’ lives by supporting their learning, providing them with inclusive and safe environments to grow and develop, and helping them become more confident as they make their way in the world. As we commemorate World Teachers’ Day
on Monday, 5 October and its theme--Teachers: Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future
--we must recognize the inspiring and transformative role that teachers working in armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate change induced disasters and protracted crises play in their students’ lives.
Here’s a story that encapsulates the terrible situation of our world: Associated Press reporters were on a Turkish coast guard vessel which picked up 37 migrants, including 18 children, from two orange life-rafts in the Aegean Sea on 12 September. The refugees were from Afghanistan, a country that shudders from an endless war. One of the refugees, Omid Hussain Nabizada told
the reporters that the Greek authorities held them in Lesbos, put them onto life rafts, and then sent them into the turbulent seas. They were left there to die.
One of the worst fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the closure of industries in India, which caused thousands of migrant labourers to return home to villages in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal. In a region where the poorest have always been subjected to bonded labour, child labour and slave trafficking, it has meant revisiting the past.
Aryan is a 15-year-old girl from Afghanistan who lives with her family in a shelter in an undisclosed country in Europe. She doesn’t go to school. But she is hugely creative. And it shows in how she occupies her time during the day — writing poetry and making bracelets and earrings that she hopes to sell online one day.
Just as COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted some communities more than others, globally, the virus has had an oversized negative impact on migrant workers.
Education Cannot Wait
: As the UN agency mandated by the UN General Assembly to provide international protection and seek solutions for refugees, could you please elaborate on the overall importance of education for refugee children as a component of protection and solutions?
Forced to flee wars and disasters, sometimes without family, and struggling to survive in the worst of circumstances, children on the move have long led very precarious lives. Be they refugees, internally displaced or asylum seekers, vulnerable and marginalised, they lose years of childhood. They are exposed to the worst forms of abuse, such as commercial exploitation and violence. Today, their situation is dire as they remain at the very bottom of the list to receive emergency measures to protect them from the impacts of COVID-19.
Even as Nepali workers stranded overseas face confusion and uncertainty during the Covid-19 crisis, labour reforms in Qatar – including an increase in the minimum wage announced in Doha on Sunday — may have lasting implications for migrants there.
When Bangladesh continues to bear the brunt of sheltering more than a million Rohingyas, Myanmar is doing little for their repatriation amid the silence of global powers though the Southeast Asian country faces a genocide case, experts and officials said.
Despite dire predictions about a drastic drop in remittances
that Nepal gets from its workers abroad due to the Covid-19 induced economic downturn, money transfers have hit Rs875 billion which is only 0.5% less than the preceding year.
Over 200,000 migrant laborers, mostly from Africa, work in Italy’s fields. After being exploited for years, the coronavirus global pandemic made these workers “essential” overnight — but without labor rights or even access to basic sanitation, these farmworkers are living and working in conditions that have been described as modern slavery. Union leader Aboubakar Soumahoro has been documenting these inhumane conditions and is now helping the workers organize to demand real and lasting change.
15-year-old Humaira* sits on the mud floor of her hut in Ukhiya camp, Cox's Bazar, listening as the rain beats down on the tarpaulin roof.
Across Nepal, it is the already under-served and vulnerable who have been affected by the prolonged lockdowns. But it is the Dalit returnees from India who have tested positive and their families who face double discrimination.
“Not being able to go to school is not something I’d wish on any child in this world,” said 21-year-old Nujeen Mustafa, a young advocate for refugees who fled the Syrian war with her sister. Mustafa, who now lives in Germany, is also the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) high profile supporter.
Migrant workers and refugees in Lebanon will “inevitably” suffer the most as food insecurity threatens the nation following last week’s blast.
Rohingya women are coming together to feature their own work, plight and stories in mainstream conversations about their community — a space they say they’ve been left out of.
“If we think of revolutions or liberty or think of any ways to liberate ourselves from the shackle of suffering and being dubbed as 'the most persecuted minority on earth', women have to be part of it,” Yasmin Ullah, president of the Rohingya Human Rights Network, told IPS.
The Charter of the United Nations has been a constant presence in my life. My awareness of it started with the usual brief introduction to the basics of the United Nations as an organization that many young people receive in school. Later, as my political awareness took shape against the backdrop of military rule in Portugal and my country’s status as a colonial power, the Charter’s calls for self-determination and other freedoms registered with urgency. During the time I spent as a volunteer in the poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, the Charter’s vision of social justice was equally resonant. In subsequent service as a parliamentarian and then as Prime Minister, I was privileged to have an opportunity to advance not only national progress but one of the Charter’s other main objectives: international cooperation. Across a decade as High Commissioner for Refugees and now in my current role, the Charter’s power inspires me onward every day in serving “we the peoples”, including the most vulnerable members of the human family, who have a special claim on that landmark document’s provisions and protections.