NEW YORK, USA, 16 November 2007 – 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.
Educating children in conflict zones
In Iraq, as in many other conflict zones, schools may be targets of violence and must operate in increasingly tense security situations.
UNICEF Colombia Representative Paul Martin and UNICEF Iraq Deputy Representative Geeta Verma with podcast moderator Amy Costello at a discussion on education in conflict-affected countries.
“Examinations that took place recently saw, for the first time, a decline in the number of children who sat for the exam and, further, those who were able to pass,” said Geeta Verma, speaking of Iraq last week during a discussion about the role of education in countries affected by conflict or natural disaster. “The learning levels are going down rapidly, which means that the quality of education is in rapid decline,” she added.
“In Southern Sudan, you find that … the adult literacy rates are very low, the lowest in the world,” said Sibeso Luswata, noting the challenges of working in an area that recently emerged from conflict.
Paul Martin cited the difficulty of providing education to vulnerable and excluded children in middle-income countries such as Colombia – especially in remote areas. The problem is “particularly acute in Colombia because of the situation of violence, which is affecting large areas but not all of the country at once,” he said. “A lot of the problems in those isolated areas are quite similar to the things that have been described in Sudan and in Iraq.”
A tool for social transformation
Ms. Verma, Ms. Luswata and Mr. Martin made their comments in the third segment of ‘Beyond School Books’, a series of discussions that are distributed online and through UNICEF Radio podcasts.
UNICEF has launched the series – hosted by Amy Costello, a former correspondent for Public Radio International – to help advance the discussion on the role of education in countries affected by conflict or natural disaster, or emerging from crisis.
About this Podcast
Voices from the Field. A discussion about educating children in some of the world’s most challenging contexts, featuring these guests:
Sibeso Luswata, UNICEF Southern Sudan Chief of Education; Paul Martin, UNICEF Representative in Colombia; and Geeta Verma, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Iraq.