Education cannot wait: Focusing on children who are most at risk

A BLOG POST BY ELIN MARTINEZ, ADVOCACY ADVISOR AT SAVE THE CHILDRENDecember 12 save the children On an almost daily basis, we hear of children who drop out of school or are simply not able to go to school because of the context they live in. In 2012, more than 20 countries have been affected by natural disasters. Most recently, Hurricane Sandy was all over the news. It had a devastating impact on the United States and the Caribbean; but at the same time, similar natural disasters were affecting the Philippines and Bangladesh; and drought was having an equally devastating impact on Niger, Somalia, Kenya and South Sudan, to name a few.

The common thread in all these situations is that children suffer the impact of natural disasters every day – education has been hit hard. In our community of practice, we know that unless we focus on ensuring children have access to education in the event of a humanitarian emergency and we minimize the interruption, the likelihood of children going back to school decreases; the likelihood of missing out on key learning opportunities increases. Education interventions in these settings will ensure children’s education is not interrupted; a quality education will provide them with hope for the future and build their resilience. They will also guarantee equal access for all children by targeting children who have been out of school prior to the emergency.

In an attempt to highlight the situation of these children, Save the Children published a report called ‘A creeping crisis: the neglect of education in slow-onset emergencies. Though focused on the current situation of children in the Sahel region of West Africa and in the Horn of Africa, the recommendations in the report are relevant for all countries facing humanitarian emergencies.

Under the banner of Education Cannot Wait we are working hard to change the perception that education, a fundamental right relevant in any context, can be postponed until conditions are restored and things are up and running. We know that that is already too late for children. As set out in the global Education Cannot Wait: Call to Action, we need to be more committed to guaranteeing education wherever children find themselves, not wherever it is easiest to deliver education programmes. We need to make sure that a fair share of funding is going to education in emergencies – which, to-date, remains the most neglected humanitarian sector. But more importantly, we need governments, donors and humanitarian agencies alike to commit to the right to education in emergency situations.

For more information, follow  #educationcannotwait and for news on education in emergencies, follow @Martinez_Elin and @savechildrenuk.

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