Nonviolent Civil Resistance works: let’s spread the word!

In 2011, Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan published a groundbreaking study on civil resistance, Why Civil Resistance Works, the strategic logic of nonviolent conflict. While the prevailing view is that the most effective means of waging political struggle entails violence, they found that civil resistance campaigns were more than twice as successful in achieving their objectives than violent campaigns. They examined 323 nonviolent and violent campaigns between 1900-2006, involving more than 1,000 people, and that related to a country’s secession, overthrow of a dictatorship or removal of a foreign occupation. They also explore four case studies: Iran, Burma, the Philippines, and the Palestinian Territories.

Another interesting outcome of their study is that the governments of countries where the peaceful resistance took place were far more likely to become or remain stable democracies afterward. The book won several prizes including the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for best book published in the United States on government, politics or international affairs.

Here is a recent TED Talk by Erica Chenoweth, she discusses the promise of unarmed struggle in the 21st century. In addition to explaining why nonviolent resistance has been so effective, she also emphasizes how important it is to change the focus of social studies and what we teach in schools:

Source: Chenoweth, Erica, and Maria J. Stephan. “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict,” in International Security, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Summer 2008), pp. 7–44.

Source: Chenoweth, Erica, and Maria J. Stephan. “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict,” in International Security, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Summer 2008), pp. 7–44.

Chenoweth, Erica, and Maria J. Stephan. Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. New York: Columbia University Press (2011).

Interested in learning more? Here is a presentation on External Factors in Civil Resistance by Maria Stephan & Rob Wilkinson at the 2013 Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict:

Erica Chenoweth and Stephen Zunes present how repression affects nonviolent campaigns. Chenoweth notably provides empirical evidence that nonviolent movements are still effective even against brutally oppressive opponents:

To go further:

Several documentaries have been produced and are available in several languages, with a useful study guide designed for high school and college use:

  • A Force More Powerful (narrated by Ben Kingsley): it explores how nonviolent power has overcome oppression and authoritarian rule all over the world.
  • Bringing Down a Dictator (narrated by Martin Sheen): it tells the inside story of how Milosevic was brought down — not by smoke and flames– but by a campaign of political defiance and massive civil disobedience.
  • Orange Revolution: it studies the 2004 stolen election in Ukraine which brought citizens together on the streets for 17 days to defend their vote and the future of their country.
  • In production: The Egypt Project
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2013 Global Gender Gap Report: 20% of countries have made no progress or are falling behind

ScreenShot027The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just released the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report. It ranks 136 countries* (which collectively contain over 93 percent of the world’s population) based on 14 indicators used to measure the size of a nation’s gender gap in four key areas: (1) Economic participation and opportunity, which includes female labor force participation, wage equality and the percentage of women in high-ranking, highly-skilled jobs; (2) Educational attainment, which looks at female literacy, and women’s access to and enrollment in both basic and higher education; (3) Political empowerment, which examines the number of women holding political office as well as the number of female heads of state over the last 50 years; and (4) Health and survival, which is measured by comparing female and male life expectancy and mortality rates.

While these results can be helpful to assess the situation, it is important to note that this report does not account for everything that makes up the quality of a woman’s life. For example, it is illegal in both Nicaragua (#9) and the Philippines (#5) for women to terminate a pregnancy. Gender based violence is also not taken into account.


Main findings of the 2013 edition:

  • 86 out of 133 countries improved their global gender gap between 2012 and 2013, with the area of political participation seeing the greatest progress
  • Iceland has the narrowest gender gap in the world, followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.
  • Data indicates overall slight gains in gender parity mask the emergence of twin-track paths towards economic equality in many countries and regions.
  • The G20 group of leading industrial nations has no representative in the top 10.
  • The Middle East and North Africa were the only regions not to improve in the
    past year, with Yemen at the bottom.
  • 20% of countries have made no progress or are falling behind

Overall, the Report finds Iceland the most advanced country in the world in terms of gender equality for the fifth year running. It, along with Finland (2nd), Norway (3rd) and Sweden (4th), has now closed over 80% of its gender gap. These countries are joined in the top 10 by the Philippines, which enters the top five for the first time, Ireland (6th), New Zealand (7th), Denmark (8th), Switzerland (9th) and Nicaragua (10th).

Elsewhere, in 14th place Germany is the highest-placed individual G20 economy, although it falls one place from 2012. Next is South Africa (17th, down one), the United Kingdom (level on 18th) and Canada (up one to 20th). The United States comes 23rd, also down one place since 2012. After South Africa, the next highest BRICS nation is Russia (61st), followed by Brazil (62nd), China (69th) and India (101st). At the bottom of the ranking are Chad (134th), Pakistan (135th) and Yemen (136th).

Overall Gender Gap 2013:


At the global level, the Report finds that in 2013, 96% of the health and survival gender gap has now been closed. It is the only one of the four pillars that has widened since the Report was first compiled in 2006. In terms of education, the global gender gap stands at 93%, with 25 countries having closed their gaps completely. The gender gaps for economic equality and political participation are only 60% and 21% closed respectively, although progress is being made in these areas, with political participation narrowing by almost 2% over the last year. In both developing and developed countries alike, relative to the numbers of women in tertiary education and in the workforce overall, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited.

Focus on Education:


*Each country out of the 136 is assigned a score between 1 (total equality) and 0 (total inequality) for each of the 14 indicators. The scores are then averaged to determine the overall rankings. According to the report’s authors, the index scores represent the “percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men.”

Download: Full Report I Country Profiles

Press release: عربي I Español I Français I Deutsch I Português I 日本語 I 中文

Source: The World Economic Forum

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The Forgotten Education Crisis in the Central African Republic

This post originally appeared on the Education For All blog on October 21, 2013:

The Global Partnership for Education provides education funding to crisis countries

By Alice Albright

World media has captured the Syrian crisis, Egypt’s turmoil and many other disasters around the world.  But who talks about the military conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), a landlocked country in Africa and amongst the poorest in the world? An estimated 400,000 people have fled their homes since rebels ousted the government in May and are now displaced in their own country. Many of them hiding full of fear in the forests, many of them children. In addition, 65,000 refugees from the CAR fled to neighboring countries. In total, about 10% of the total population has been uprooted by the ongoing fighting.

The UN Security Council is seriously concerned about the security situation in the CAR and approved a new resolution earlier this month focusing on humanitarian assistance, protection of human rights and the security situation. The civilian population has suffered countless acts of violence since May including looting, destruction of homes and rape, reports the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. As it goes in such conflicts, the poorest are suffering the most, losing the little they have. For many people this means losing their homes and the ability to cover basic needs: no clean water, no health care.  For the children, no education and loss of their one chance in life to attend school.

Credit: UNHCR/H. Caux

Too little funding for education in humanitarian crisis

Let’s take a closer look at the impact of the crisis on education: Schools have been closed, particularly in Ouham, Ouham-Pende and Ouaka provinces where the fighting is worst. Furniture, equipment and books have been destroyed, teachers have fled. The U.N. Consolidated Appeal has requested $195 million from the international donor community to assist with basic humanitarian aid. Of this amount, only $22.5 million is for education support of which only $7.3 million (32%) has been funded so far. Overall, just 39% of the overall humanitarian funding needs have been covered. This is shocking and another indication of the global education crisis we are facing today.

The Central African Republic is a GPE partner country

But the Central African Republic is one of 59 developing country partners of the Global Partnership for Education. The country joined the partnership in 2008 with a strong education sector plan promoting universal primary education; improving learning and expanding universal literacy and developing higher vocational education.

With GPE’s involvement, a dynamic local education group formed including the government, donor agencies, international development organizations and civil society and actively engaged in improving the education sector. UNICEF is coordinating this group, but many members have left by now due to the security situation. Between 2008 and 2013, a $37.8 million GPE education grant was used to build more than 500 new classrooms and rehabilitate another 400 allowing thousands more children to go to school. To improve the quality of learning, GPE grant funding was used to train and certify 1,500 teachers and distribute more than 1.3 million reading and math textbooks to schools. This reduced the number of students per textbook considerably, from 7 to 1.

Progress at halt

As a result, we could see real progress between 2008 and 2011. More children went to primary school, an increase from 74% in 2008 to 87 % in 2011 and more children completed primary school. While much more needed to be done, the progress that has been achieved  is now at risk of being wiped out. A rapid assessment organized in August 2013 by the Education Cluster showed that about 50% of all schools visited were still closed and almost half of the school year had been lost. Even more serious is the low school attendance rate: Out of every 100 students enrolled in school in September 2012, 70 were still not back in schools assessed in August 2013. The fear of violence and the lack of teachers were identified as the main reasons why children did not come back to school. School feeding and the restoration of order and security are key issues to encourage children to return to school and I am glad that our partners from the World Food Program are preparing for emergency school feedings for 100,000 students.

GPE helps with accelerated funding to counter the impacts of the crisis

The political and security situation remains fragile and unpredictable, but we cannot forget the children in the Central African Republic who need our help now – not next year or whenever the situation calms down. That’s why we are initiating an emergency program through our new accelerated funding process. UNICEF and the Education Cluster, our GPE partners on the ground, have prepared a proposal for $ 3.7 million.

Since its approval in April 2013, this new operational framework for effective support in conflict-affected and fragile countries (PDF) has already been applied twice – once in the South Central Somalia region providing $1.4 million and once in Yemen providing US$ 10 million for emergency education needs. With 28 out of our 59 developing country partners considered “fragile”, I suspect this won’t be the last time and I am glad to see our increased flexibility put to work.

The emergency program targets the most affected prefectures (as soon as a minimum level of security is guaranteed), in coordination with the Education Cluster’s work. It will help children to go back to school by supporting parents’ associations to rehabilitate classrooms and equip them with furniture and learning materials. The program will also provide temporary financial support to the most vulnerable teachers enabling extra courses for students to make up for missed classes while the schools were closed. The funding will also reduce parents’ contributions to school.

Let’s call on the international community to support education in the Central African Republic so that millions of children can go back to school, learn and develop their full potential for a better and healthier life.

Source: Global Partnership for Education

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The State of the World’s Girls 2013 – “In Double Jeopardy: Adolescent Girls and Disasters”

Plan’s annual report on the world’s girls investigates what happens to adolescent girls in disasters, and how to better protect girls’ rights and well-being.

Plan International just released the seventh report in its annual State of the World’s Girls series. In Double Jeopardy: Adolescent Girls and Disasters looks at what happens to adolescent girls in disasters and why. Using original research and the voices of girls themselves, it shows how adolescent girls’ rights are being ignored before, during and after disasters, both in the urgency of a disaster response, and in the gaps between humanitarian and development work.

The report examines the tension between girls’ vulnerability to violence, and the resilience they so often show in times of crisis, and explores what needs to be done.

The double discrimination of age and sex – why adolescent  girls are most at risk in disasters

Opolot, Simon, Lead Researcher. ‘Research to Investigate the Situation of Adolescent Girls in Disasters: An Analysis of Existing Interventions and Related Gaps. Synthesis Report of Studies Conducted in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zimbabwe & Mozambique.’ Research Commissioned by Plan East and Southern Africa Regional Office, February 2013.

Why focus on adolescent girls? “This report will show in detail just how and why the humanitarian system is failing adolescent girls. It is failing to count them; it is failing to take account of their particular needs; it is failing to listen to what they have to say, and it is failing to engage them in decisions that affect them. Adolescent girls have particular needs for protection, healthcare, education and participation which are often not met, or even recognised, in an emergency.” (Plan, 2013, p. 13)

Adolescent girls are not just victims. They are resilient; they show initiative; they can lead communities and other young people, for example in disaster mitigation and planning. They just need the support they are entitled to – including greater access to relevant and life-saving information and inclusion in decision-making.” (Plan, 2013, p. 15)

Education: The silver lining – how emergencies can offer new opportunities for adolescent girls

Morgan, Jenny and Alice Behrendt. ‘Silent Suffering: The psychosocial impact of war, HIV and other high-risk situations on girls and boys in West and Central Africa’. Plan International. 2009

A study in West and Central Africa on the impact of war, HIV and other high risk situations found that in answer to the question, “What makes you happy?” the most commonly cited answer from all the children was “participation in school”. This was the case for both girls and boys, with girls in fact arguing the case more strongly than the boys. The authors said: “It appears that the simple fact of being registered for school, having one’s fees paid, receiving text books and doing well in exams, is a source of wellbeing for children.” (Executive Summary, p. 8)

Luqman, Ahmed. ‘Disasters and Girls’ Education: Pakistan Study.’ Plan International, 2013.

Hard choices – boys rather than girls? “In many countries, there is still a preference to send sons rather than daughters to school if parents are forced to choose. This may well be exacerbated in an emergency. […] Research in Pakistan compared school attendance records in eight schools in rural areas in Grades Six to Eight before and after the floods in 2010. In all cases, more girls than boys stayed out of school when the schools resumed after the floods. After the flood, 22 per cent of girls and 7 per cent of boys dropped out, making the differential even more stark.” (Plan, 2013, p. 95)

Keeping girls safe in a disaster – what humanitarian agencies need to do to support and protect girls in emergencies:

The results stress the key missing pieces of current humanitarian worklistening to what adolescent girls have to say, ensuring both their rights and their needs are catered for, and strengthening their resilience. The report recommends the following key action points:

  1. Consult adolescent girls in all stages of disaster preparedness and response.
  2. Train and mobilize women to work in emergency response teams.
  3. Provide targeted services for adolescent girls in the core areas of education, protection and sexual and reproductive health.
  4. Include funding for protection against gender-based violence in the first phase of  emergency response.
  5. Collect sex and age disaggregated data, to show the needs of adolescent girls and inform program planning.

Download the executive summary: English | French | Spanish | Portuguese

Download the full report: English | French | Spanish

Source: Plan International

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Investing in Girls’ Education Delivers Results: let’s innovate!

ScreenShot019Today, we are celebrating the second International Day of the Girl Child. Indeed, on December 19, 2011, the  United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique  challenges girls face around the world. The inaugural day in 2012 focused on the issue of Child Marriage. This year’s theme focuses on Innovating for Girls’ Education, in recognition of the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward and building on the momentum created by last year’s event.


The International Day of the Girl Child 2013 provides a platform to highlight ideas such as the following examples of ongoing work and achievements, as well as raise awareness of the importance of innovation in advancing girls’ education and promoting learning and empowerment:

  • Improving public and private means of transportation for girls to get to school—from roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles to boats and canoes
  • Engaging young people in monitoring and holding school systems accountable for ensuring the integrity of school facilities and functions and the safety and learning of girls
  • Collaboration between school systems and the banking industry to facilitate secure and convenient pay delivery to female teachers and scholarship delivery to girls
  • Provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools, universities and vocational education programmes
  • Corporate mentorship programmes to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work
  • Revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender norms related to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive health, and male and female family roles
  • Deploying mobile technology for teaching and learning to reach girls, especially in remote areas
  • Using traditional and social media, advertising and commercial packaging to publicize data on gender disparities in education, the underlying causes, and actions that can be taken for change

Source: UNICEF, WorldWeWant2015


* * * * *


Please read this piece by Susan Ngongi, UNICEF Representative in Ghana, to learn more about the transformative role that girls could have in growing Ghana’s economy, if they receive the right investments.

Investments in girls yield the greatest national dividends:

Mothers transmit their social and economic status to their children more easily than fathers. Educated young women have smaller families and healthier children. They are less likely to marry young or die in childbirth, more likely to send their children to school, and better able to protect themselves and their children from malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, trafficking, and sexual exploitation. An educated girl has better opportunities. She is more likely to get a job and earn a higher wage, and her nation’s economy is likely to benefit as a result. An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 per cent and an extra year of secondary school by 15 to 25 per cent. One percentage point increase in female education raises the average level of GDP by 0.3 percentage points. Well implemented, schools boost productivity and are a great equalizer of opportunity. This is the main avenue through which to develop the skills of girls. Ghana has achieved parity between boys and girls in primary school, but the gap begins to show in secondary school and by the tertiary level there are approximately twice as many boys as girls.

Source: UNGEI

* * * * *


The Global Partnership for Education’s new infographics below remind us how and why investing in girls’ education makes a difference, here are some facts:

> Some countries lose more than $1 billion per year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys,

> Women’s education has prevented more than 4 million child deaths in the past 40 years

> Investing in girls education could boost agricultural output in Africa by 25%

For further information, see UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report Education Transforms: download the Girls’ Education Factsheet and see the Education Transforms website.




Source: Global Partnership for EducationUNESCO EFA GMR

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World Teachers’ Day shines spotlight on global teacher shortage

World Education Blog

By Albert Motivans, head of education indicators and data analysis, UNESCO Institute of Statistics, and Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report

This year’s World Teachers’ Day, on October 5, focuses on one of the most urgent global education problems: a huge shortage of professional, well-trained and well-supported teachers.

The scale of the global teacher gap is revealed in new figures released this week by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS). About 58% of countries and territories around the world currently do not have enough teachers in classrooms to achieve universal primary education (UPE) by 2015 – the second Education for All goal and the major education target in the Millennium Developments Goals.

Countries will need an extra 1.6 million teachers to achieve universal primary education by 2015 and 3.3 million by 2030, according to the UIS. The forthcoming 2013/14 Education for All Global…

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Get ready for the International Day of the Girl: Bring Girl Rising to School


You liked the film Girl Rising. You believe in its potential as a movement. Now, Girl Rising is a curriculum.

Girl Rising is a groundbreaking film that promotes a powerful truth: educating girls in the developing world can transform families, communities, entire countries – and break the cycle of poverty in just one generation.

The Girl Rising curriculum, based around the stories of two of the film’s heroines, teaches students to think critically about issues tied to educating girls, and about their own responsibilities and potential as global citizens.

Girl Rising provides teachers with a unique opportunity to educate students about the issues surrounding, and the impact of, girls’ education in the developing world. To help teachers learn about the movement and the predominant issues, and effectively share the information with their students, the Pearson Foundation has created this standards-aligned curriculum for two chapters in the film: Suma from Nepal, and Senna from Peru. Both chapters featured in the curriculum are available in Arabic, Dutch, English SDH, French, Hebrew, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish


  • Students create their own theoretical NGO to support girls, and design a marketing brochure
  • Students write poetry, or songs, or create visual art to illustrate the barriers girls face
  • Students apply for a hypothetical UN Grant on behalf of girls’ education

Bring Girl Rising to your school, with a common core-aligned curriculum for upper elementary through high school students. The curriculum is free and available here:


Additionally, The International Day of the Girl Curriculum includes units for elementary, middle and high school and is not explicitly tied to the film, Girl Rising.

More videos from Girl Rising are available here.

One Simple Way to Make the World Better: Educate Our Daughters

By Kayce Freed Jennings


This post originally appeared on Teach For America‘s Pass the Chalk blog.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

William Butler Yeats wrote that, and I believe it. As a journalist, I’ve seen it in schoolchildren around the world — on a dirt road in Zambia, where boys and girls emerged from the dust with inexplicably crisp uniforms and wide smiles; on a remote Indonesian island, where girls hugged their tattered notebooks to their chests as if they were made of gold; and in the most challenged school districts in our own country, where I’ve witnessed that moment when a spark lights and the future changes.

Teachers see this every day in the faces of their students, the hopes and dreams that an excellent education can bring. I suspect that’s why they do what they do. That’s definitely why my colleagues and I created Girl Rising, a film and global campaign for girls’ education. And it’s why people everywhere are responding. Take a look at this map: Girl Rising called for celebrations across the globe to mark the International Day of the Girl on October 11 — and in just a few weeks almost a thousand community groups, individuals, corporations and schools have signed on.

Think about this: There are 66 million girls in this world who aren’t in school — and educating them is the simplest way to make the world a better place. The second part of that sentence is exhilarating.

The barriers to girls’ education in the developing world are complicated, no question — early and forced marriage, sexual violence, poverty, AIDS, tradition — but we know that if you educate girls, great things happen. Educated girls become women who marry later and have fewer and healthier children. They educate their own children, boys and girls. They stand up for their rights. Families and communities prosper, and economies grow. 

That’s what Girl Rising is all about: spreading that message by telling stories. And it’s inspiring to see how the stories of the nine girls in the Girl Rising film have captured the imagination of audiences everywhere and, most especially, of young people. I’m struck — and amazed — each time I go to a screening by how the kids in the theater connect with the kids on screen, even though they are continents and cultures apart. That’s what convinced us, in collaboration with the Pearson Foundation, to create a Girl Rising curriculum for schools. That’s why our friends at Teach for America, and other educators in our community, believe in it.

Let me tell you about just one girl from the film. Senna — a warrior, her father called her — is a 14-year-old who lives in the squalor of a mining town high in the Andes, where it snows year-round, where there are no sewers or paved roads, where almost everyone dies young and where there are likely fewer girls in high school than in brothels. “There is no hope for me,” Senna’s dying father told her, “but there is for you. Study.” And study Senna did, discovering poetry amid the bleakness and finding the fighter buried deep within her soul.

Senna and the other girls of Girl Rising represent millions of girls who also just want a chance to go to school and to thrive, who dream not of diamonds but of classrooms. They are girls who, if educated, will change the world.

That’s why I hope you will join me and the Girl Rising community to celebrate International Day of the Girl by standing up for girls’ education. Host an event, screen the film, or raise funds for programs that support girls. If you’re a teacher or school leader, bring the Girl Rising curriculum to your students; introduce them to the thrill of being global citizens. Be part of something big.

“I feel as though I have power,” says Suma, another unforgettable girl in the film. “I can do anything. And I have important things to do.”

So do we all. Join us. 

Source: Girl Rising

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Recommendations for the future of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative

World Education Blog


In September 2012, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, launched the Global Education First Initiative. To mark the one-year anniversary of the Initiative, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report has been asked to prepare an independent, light touch review. Today, we are publishing draft recommendations. This draft is intended to gather further feedback on the progress of the Initiative in its first year, and to identify ways for the Initiative to be most effective in the future. The GMR will present a final review and recommendations at the next meeting of GEFI’s Steering Committee.

The Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) was established by the United Nations Secretary-General at the UN General Assembly in September 2012, with three priorities: getting every child into school, improving the quality of education, and fostering global citizenship. After one year of the Initiative, the GMR’s review finds that education stakeholders…

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UN Education First Initiative one year on: Education cannot wait


Today, we are celebrating the first-year anniversary of the UN Global Education First initiative launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in September 2012. Around the same time last year, over 20 government and global humanitarian, development and education leaders representing Ministries of Education, UN agencies, key funding partners, the private sector and NGOs came together to validate the Education Cannot Wait: Call to Action. They called for urgent action on three fronts to ensure children and youth in situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies do not forfeit their right to a quality education:

1. Plan for emergency prevention, preparedness and response in education sector plans and budgets;

2. Prioritize education in emergencies by increasing the education share of humanitarian funding from 2% to 4%;

3. Protect children, teachers and education facilities from attacks.

Education in crisis-affected countries: One Year On

Progress has been made against several Call to Action objectives; in conflict- and disaster-sensitive education sector planning, financial support for sector plans in a number of fragile states, new initiatives and/or funding for education in conflict and emergency-affected countries, and high-level advocacy efforts to protect education from attack.

However, despite these positive developments and momentum generated by the Education Cannot Wait Call to Action, the past year shows a sobering reality. New analysis by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report shows that the proportion of primary-aged out-of-school children in conflict-affected countries has increased from 42 percent of the global total in 2008 to 50 percent in 2011. Whereas the global number of children out of school has fallen during this period, the number has gone up in conflict-affected countries; from 28 to 28.5 million. In addition, an estimated 175 million children annually are affected by natural disasters. Marginalized groups, including refugees, internally displaced populations, girls, ethnic minorities and children and youth with disabilities face additional challenges. Of the 28.5 million out of school children in conflict situations, girls make up 55 percent and are the worst affected due to rape and other forms of sexual violence and exploitation.

New high-intensity conflicts, fighting and displacement in countries such as Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo deny children and youth access to education and expose them to grave human rights violations. Millions of others affected by ongoing, protracted conflicts or disasters continue to be at high risk of never going to school, dropping out permanently, or even when in school learning little due to poor education quality. Girls are at increased risk of drop out due to insecurity posed by sexual violence, pregnancy related to rape and other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse including forced marriage.

The danger of attacks at school, and on the way to school, by parties to conflict, further impedes access to education. According to the UN Secretary General’s 2013 report on Children and Armed Conflict, attacks on education, including against schools, students, teachers and other education personnel, are happening in over 17 countries listed by the UN Security Council, with particular concerns for the increase in reports of the use of schools for military purposes in most countries reported upon.

Disturbingly, the share of humanitarian aid to education has continued to decline, despite an increase in humanitarian needs. While aid to education amounted to 2.3 percent of global humanitarian funding in 2010, it was down to only 1.4 percent in 2012. Also, and despite being one of the sectors with the lowest funding requests, education requirements were only 24 percent covered in 2012, leaving a funding gap of USD $221 million. This downward-trend seriously hampers the ability to provide education in emergencies; according to analysis by the Education Cluster, an estimated 13 million beneficiaries—namely children, youth and teachers—could not be reached with education programmes in 2012 due to underfunding of education in humanitarian appeals, including in Consolidated Appeals Process and Flash Appeals.

Education Cannot Wait: Commitment to Action

Ensuring that all children and youth affected by conflicts and the impact of natural hazard have access to safe, quality, relevant education is possible. As personified by Malala, the dreams and ambitions of millions of children and youth for a good education and hope for their future are at stake. Education cannot wait; the future of the world’s children and youth cannot wait.

Children’s and youth’s right to education must be upheld and protected at all times, in situations of conflict or when emergencies strike. Given that 50 per cent of out-of-school children are in conflict situations, and that an estimated 175 million children per year are impacted by situations of natural disaster during the current decade, this is the most important group to target to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Guided by our fundamental commitment to guarantee that children and youth have access to safe, quality relevant education in all situations, we need to recommit to the Education Cannot Wait Call to Action, and to taking immediate action in order to plan, prioritize and protect education in humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations. We commit to reviewing progress made towards the following commitments at the September 2014 UN General Assembly.


Overall, we commit to ensuring that the post-2015 development agenda includes provision to ensure that all children and youth, regardless of circumstance and particularly those impacted by conflict and crisis, have access to, and learn in safe, quality, relevant education situations.

1. Plan: Integrate emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in education sector plans and budgets

  • We commit to ensuring emergency preparedness, response and recovery are integrated into national education sector plans.
  • We commit to ensuring that education is included as a central component of governments’ humanitarian policies and funding allocations.

2. Prioritize: Increase levels of humanitarian aid to education and improve its delivery mechanisms

  • We commit to increasing humanitarian funding allocations to meet education needs, to contribute towards reaching 4 percent of global humanitarian aid to education.
  • We commit to ensuring that education is included in all Humanitarian Action Plans and national strategies to respond holistically to children and youths needs in emergencies.

3. Protect: Keep education safe from attacks

  • We commit to ensuring schools remain safe spaces for learning by taking action to stop schools and universities being used for military purposes, including by promoting implementation of the Draft Lucens Guidelines on Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.
  • We commit to increasing support and resourcing to the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict, including to country task forces, to enhance information gathering, accountability and evidence base to inform advocacy, response and prevention of attacks on schools and school personnel, and military use of schools.

Sources: UN Global Education First & INEE

More information on the 2013 meeting convened to support Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Global Education First Initiative, launched one year ago, and chaired by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education. is available here:

The meeting called for more planning for emergency prevention and integration of emergency preparedness and recovery in education sector plans and national budgets; prioritizing education in emergencies by increasing humanitarian aid to education and improving the way it is delivered on the ground; and protection of children, teachers and education facilities from attacks.

Participants included UNICEF, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Save the Children, Global Partnership for Education, International Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, and Plan International.

“Education must be built into peace building – not bolted on – and it must be tied with longer-term development,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said.

Global Partnership for Education Chief Executive Alice Albright noted that education in emergency situations is severely underfunded, accounting for merely 1.4 per cent of humanitarian aid.

“We should at least double this amount, make it more effective, and improve coordination among Governments, donors and humanitarian agencies,” she said, stressing that quality education requires investment and planning to give children living in some of the toughest parts of the world hope and a chance to shape their futures.


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International Day of Peace: UN calls for investment in peace education


Education is vital for building peaceful societies and fostering global citizenship, senior United Nations officials today said marking the International Day of Peace with calls for greater investment in quality education and to reverse trends which show aid for schools and teachers dipping for the first time in a decade.

“On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day (full speech available below).

“Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity. Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might,” Mr. Ban noted highlighting this year’s theme, ‘Education for Peace.’

He recalled the words on Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl targeted by the Taliban for campaigning for the right to education, during her visit to the UN Headquarters in New York in June, “One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.”

Mr. Ban called for “bold political leadership and increased financial commitment” to reverse a decline in aid for education, and urged new partnerships to reach the poorest and most marginalized children.

To accelerate progress towards universal education, Mr. Ban launched last year his Global Education First Initiative, whose Secretariat is hosted by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

There are currently 57 million children that do not have access to education, and millions more that need better schooling that go beyond the basis of reading and writing.

Education must encompass the teaching of human rights, living together and respect for others, said Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General.

“Every child in the world should know their rights, and learn their own history and that of other peoples, so as to be able to understand the equal dignity of cultures and draw lessons from the crimes and violence of the past,” Ms. Bokova said in her message for the Day.

Ahead of today’s official observance, the UN Headquarters in New York marked International Peace Day on 18 September with the ringing of the Peace Bell in the Rose Garden. A gift from Japan, the Peace Bell has tolled every year in a solemn call for peace since 1981, when the General Assembly established the Day to coincide with the opening of its annual debate in September. The high-level portion of the debate is due to begin on Tuesday.

At the ceremony, the President of the 68th session of the General Assembly, John Ashe, stressed  the importance of education as a “path to growth and development”. He added that education which teaches the value of peace is a key preventative means of reducing war and conflict.

The International Day of Peace was first established by the General Assembly in 1981 as an opportunity for people around the world to promote the resolution of conflict and to observe a cessation of hostilities.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on September 21, 2013:

The International  Day of Peace is a time for reflection – a day when we reiterate our belief in  non-violence and call for a global ceasefire.  We ask people everywhere to observe a minute  of silence, at noon local time, to honour those killed in conflict and the survivors  who live with daily trauma and pain.

This year we are  highlighting Education for Peace.  Education  is vital for fostering global citizenship and building peaceful societies.  

In June, Malala  Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl targeted for assassination by the Taliban  for campaigning for the right to education, came to the United Nations.  Malala said: “One teacher, one book, one pen,  can change the world.”  These are our  most powerful weapons. 

That is why, last  year, I launched the Global Education First Initiative.  Every  girl and every boy deserves to receive a quality education and learn the values  that will help them to see themselves as part of a global community.

Governments and  development partners are working to get every child in school and learning well  to equip them for life in the 21st century.  There is new momentum in countries with the  greatest needs, such as those affected by conflict, which are home to half of  all children lacking education.  But we  must do more – much more.  Fifty-seven  million children are still denied an education.   Millions more need better schooling.

Educating the  poorest and most marginalized children will require bold political leadership  and increased financial commitment.  Yet  aid for education has dropped for the first time in a decade.  We must reverse this decline, forge new  partnerships, and bring much greater attention to the quality of education.

On this  International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of  tolerance and mutual respect.  Let us  invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world  that embraces diversity.  Let us fight  for peace and defend it with all our might.

Ban Ki-moon

Source: United Nations

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