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Promoting education during emergencies

Dec 31, 2009

UNICEF’s publication Education in Emergencies in South Asia underlines that schools and other learning spaces are vitally important for all children during disasters and emergencies. Providing individual case studies, it suggests strategies for reducing vulnerabilities and increased enrolment in schools.

Education in Emergencies in South Asia Reducing the Risks Facing Vulnerable Children

Publisher: United Nations Children’s Fund 2009

In South Asia marginalised and underprivileged children, especially girls, are denied their right to education either because they are never enrolled in school, or forced to drop out at an early age.

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It is also widely recognised that emergencies make such children even more vulnerable to the loss of their education, whether these emergencies are conflict-related,natural or man-made disasters.

Children rarely suffer from a single vulnerability. A girl from a rural area is likely to come from a poor family; a street child may also be an orphan; refugee children, who have lost all feeling of security, are particularly vulnerable to violence and – again, especially girls – sexual abuse. Caste and ethnicity in many countries in the South Asia region add dimensions that interweave with all other factors.

Vulnerability is a complex issue. Every vulnerable group in every country is different, and emergencies often create newly vulnerable groups, such as orphans, refugees and internally displaced families. As a result, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Nonetheless, the needs of vulnerable children are rarely disaggregated.

The study looks at clusters of vulnerability and notes that several vulnerabilities typically affect each individual child.

The report reminds us that not all disasters are due to the forces of nature, with industrial accidents sometimes causing as much or more damage as natural disasters. The report underlines that schools and other learning spaces are vitally important for all children during disasters and emergencies.

While access to school, of itself, does not address the specific needs of vulnerable children, it does provide a safe environment through which more focused strategies can be developed and individual needs can be addressed.

The eight individual country studies presented provide in-depth analyses of the circumstances and complexities in each country, together with suggested strategies for reducing vulnerabilities.

The report also notes that disasters and emergencies frequently offer opportunities for longer-term change for increased enrolment, improved facilities and equality in schools. The study provides country-based examples of how this is happening in South Asia.

Source : UNICEF
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