Providing education to children in regions and societies affected by conflict – or emerging from it – is a major challenge. Yet communities in conflict-affected areas consistently rank education as a high priority. And they demonstrate astounding resourcefulness and resilience in seeking out and providing schooling for their children.
Many emergency situations around the globe are protracted conflicts that can take years or decades to resolve. According to ‘Progress for Children,’ the comprehensive statistical review recently published by UNICEF, more than 40 per cent of the world’s estimated 39 million refugees and displaced persons are young people.
Growing up in precarious and volatile situations – and suffering from a lack of teachers, materials and schools – displaced youths are likely to be deprived of a quality education.
Podcast moderator Amy Costello interviews former UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah in the UN Radio studios.
Educating refugee and displaced children
As the leader of Timor-Leste, the world’s youngest democracy, President Jose Ramos-Horta is building and developing an education sector that must reintegrate both returning refugees and internally displaced persons.
During a recent UN Radio discussion on education in emergencies, Mr. Ramos-Horta spoke of the Timorese community’s attitudes about schooling since the country gained independence.
“There is an extraordinary desire, on the part of the parents, but also on the youth, to go to school,” he said.
Development and change
Like Mr. Ramos-Horta, Dr. Rima Salah has drawn on both her personal experience and her research as an anthropologist to inform her work as an advocate for the human rights of refugee populations.
“Living in a refugee camp is really different than living in a village, because a refugee camp is a place surrounded by walls, and they know that they cannot go out,” said Dr. Salah.
Despite living conditions and physical obstacles in displaced communities, both Dr. Salah and Mr. Ramos-Horta spoke of the drive and determination of young people to get an education. The Timorese President stressed that development and change will be furthered “through quality education, which will take time to come about to really make this country move forward.”
About this Podcast
Featuring these guests:
President Jose Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste and Dr. Rima Salah, former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.