Nigeria is home to 15 percent of the world’s out-of-school children. More than 7.6 million girls are not in school, and only nine percent of the poorest girls in the country are in secondary school. The Boko Haram insurgency and other armed groups fuel the out-of-school crisis in northeast Nigeria, disrupting the education of nearly two million school-age children.
As we lead into the Africa Year of Education
, and under the leadership of Africa, world leaders have an opportunity to solidify commitments to ‘Educate an Africa Fit for the 21st Century’. That means to empower Africa to deliver on the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Paris Agreement and Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to invest in an end to inequity through the power of quality education and lifelong learning.
Yasmine Sherif is the Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait (ECW). A lawyer specialized in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law (LL.M), she has over 30 years of experience with the United Nations and international NGOs.
Education is the bedrock of peace, the foundation of strong societies, and the building block for a better world. This year, as we celebrate the Sixth International Day of Education
under the theme of ‘learning for a lasting peace’, we call on world leaders to end wars and armed conflicts and focus on our common humanity to embrace the vast potential learning offers in uniting our world.
Today we mark a milestone in history: the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
. As people around the world commemorate Human Rights Day, we must also deeply reflect on the meaning of this historic document and what it takes to achieve peace in the world.
It is a global catastrophe of astounding proportions that millions of children are on the run today, forcibly displaced from their homes. As conflict and climate change increasingly become the most pressing challenges facing the world now, the number of displaced children has doubled in the last decade alone, reaching a record high of 43.3 million children.
“The one international language the world understands” wrote Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children, “is the cry of a child,” and the evidence is accumulating that children are not only the innocent victims of conflict whose pleas need to be heard, but also the most vulnerable victims of climate change.
Across the globe, the number of crisis-affected school-aged children facing climate shocks amplified by climate change keeps rising. The Somalia region of Ethiopia is facing the worst drought in 40 years. Last year in Pakistan, unprecedented flooding damaged more than 26,000 schools. Tropical Cyclone Tej recently made landfall in Yemen, affecting thousands of people.
A catastrophic surge in the frequency, intensity, and severity of extreme weather events has placed children on the frontlines of climate emergencies. Nearly half of the world’s children, or one billion, live in countries at extremely high risk from the effects of the climate crisis. Most of these children face multiple vulnerabilities.
The UN Secretary-General has defined the crisis in Gaza not just as a humanitarian crisis, but rather as a crisis of humanity. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres
: “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day.” This continued trend of violence and disregard for international humanitarian law and human life has enveloped our world.
is a medical doctor. Born in Sparta (Greece) in 1976, she holds both French and Greek nationalities and is a graduate of Sapienza University in Rome, as well as holding a PhD on endometriosis. She arrived in France in 2007, practicing as a gynaecological surgeon at Bégin Military Hospital.
Today, as we commemorate United Nations Day, more than 224 million children and adolescents are in need of quality education, and the hope, protection and opportunity it provides. Their numbers are increasing by the day. From Afghanistan and Sudan to Ukraine; from South Sudan, Latin America and across sub-Saharan Africa; and in Gaza, where 50% of the total population of 2.2 million are children under siege.
We are in a race to deliver on our global promise of education for all by 2030 – especially for the 224 million girls and boys impacted by armed conflict, climate change, forced displacement and other protracted crises who so urgently need our support. At the frontlines of this movement are the inspiring, caring, brilliant teachers who work tirelessly to educate future generations.
Once a year, on October 5, we celebrate World Teachers’ Day
. Why is it so important to have a closer look on the teaching profession? What is so special about being a teacher nowadays?
“My dream is to become a teacher,” says 13-year-old Alia. A small glimmer of hope can be traced in her beautiful, almond-shaped, brown eyes. Together with her mother, siblings and aunt, Alia has fled the conflict in Sudan to Chad. With extraordinary courage to survive, she made the harrowing journey at night across checkpoints, threatened by guns and militia roaming around in the dark. While her eyes are still hollow from the flight, I see that sparkle for a split second: she still has hope.
Today, we mark the second anniversary of the ban on secondary school girls’ education in Afghanistan and join the world in calling for it to be lifted now.
A Taliban edict is rolling back time in Afghanistan after access to education for all Afghan girls over the age of 12 was indefinitely suspended on September 18, 2021. Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are forbidden from attending school beyond the primary level, leaving more than 1.1 million girls and young women without access to formal education.
With hope and courage, we must rise to the challenges before us. We must rise to the challenge of a world set afire by climate change, forced displacement, armed conflicts and human rights abuses. We must rise to the challenge of girls being denied their right to an education in Afghanistan. We must rise to the challenge of a global refugee crisis that is disrupting development gains the world over. We must rise to the challenge of brutal and unconscionable wars in places like Sudan and Ukraine that are putting millions of children at risk every day.
As thousands convene in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, for the Africa Climate Summit, the first time the African Union has summoned its leaders to solely discuss climate change under the theme ‘Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World’, the backdrop is a country on the frontlines of a climate crisis.
Youth offer a powerful voice in ECW’s global movement to ensure crisis-impacted children worldwide are offered the safety, hope and opportunity of a quality education. As a global multilateral fund, ECW offers a rare opportunity for youth to participate in its governance structure. In this sweeping two-part interview, ECW connects with Mutesi Hadijah and Hector Ulloa who were recently elected to represent the youth constituency on ECW’s High-Level Steering Group and Executive Committee, respectively.
His name is Matiullah Wesa, a girls education campaigner who now symbolises the “war” waged by the Taliban against the education and empowerment of women and girls. Exactly two years since the Taliban took over, Afghanistan is on a downward
trajectory and unfortunately, global attention that was drawn by families chasing planes to flee a few days after the Taliban assumed control of the government has waned over the last two years.