NEW YORK, USA, 22 October 2007 – In countries caught in a cycle of ongoing conflict, as well as those emerging from war, the rights of children and the right to education are most at risk.
Communities in these nations consistently rank education as a high priority for support during and after a crisis – demonstrating that education is an indispensable tool for social transformation.
“The notion that education is a luxury is something we have to take away in conflict situations,” Radhika Coomaraswamy said during her discussion with Gene Sperling this week.
A teacher leads an open-air class at a UNICEF-assisted school in the Kounoungo camp for Sudanese refugees in Guereda, eastern Chad.
“No one ever sees a ‘Frontline’ or a CNN camera showing a child dying of lack of education – you never see that moment – but there is no question that children die from lack of education all the time,” added Mr. Sperling.
Using education to promote relief
Ms. Coomaraswamy and Mr. Sperling made their comments in the first instalment of ‘Beyond School Books’, a series of discussions that are being recorded at the UN radio studios in New York and 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, natural disaster or emerging from crisis.
The discussions are part of renewed efforts by UNICEF and its partners to support education in emergencies and post-crisis transition countries. The predicament of children in these countries is the focus of an international collaboration using education to promote more efficient relief during and after emergencies – and to build back national systems better than before.
About this Podcast:
Education as a Human Right and Long-Term Development Tool. A discussion of the immediate and long-term needs and rights of children living in crisis zones, featuring these guests:
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, is a lawyer from Sri Lanka and a former UN Special Rappateur on Violence against Women. Gene Sperling, a Senior Fellow for Economic Studies and Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Council on Foreign Relations, previously served as National Economic Advisor to US President Bill Clinton.