Tuesday, 21 November 2017

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World Population Day: Invest in books, not bullets

Photo Oxfam International Flickr CC BY NC ND 2.0

10.07.2015 – Though education is now more widely recognized as a vital part of a humanitarian strategy for conflict, post-conflict or war, it still too often falls through the cracks.

The recent MDG report has showed remarkable progress within education, with 91 percent of the world’s children currently enrolling in primary school. However, the out-of-school numbers are rising fast because of the greatest exodus we have seen since 1945.

A staggering 30 million displaced children are on the long march from their homes into exile, often outside their own country in refugee camps, tents and hovels, offered little chance of ever going near a classroom. In fact, according to a recently published UNESCO report, some 24 million children will never enter a classroom, with girls remaining the most disadvantaged cohort figuring in the study. All in all the numbers show that universal education is not only stalling, but gone into reverse, while international aid to education continues to remain below 2010 levels.

On the 11th of July the UN observes the International Population Day, this year stressing the importance of these vulnerable populations in times of emergencies and conflict.

“Leaders of the 21st century must deliver on their promises to invest in the future and start investing in books, education and hope, rather than in weapons, war and conflicts,” Malala Yousafzai said at her speech at the Oslo Education Summit in Oslo, Norway, last Tuesday.

Malala Yousafzai Photo UN photos

The young human rights fighter and Nobel Prize winner strongly called for increased efforts for children all over the world, including those affected by conflict. “The poorest girls get just three years of schooling because of a lack of will and vision by our governments” she continued “This is unacceptable.” The 17-year-old Malala also declared that every child deserves access to 12 years of free education – not three, not six, nor nine.

According to the UNESCO report, the cost of providing 12 years of free education to every child is an estimated $340 billion per year through 2030 – or $39 billion more than current commitments. In order to fill this shortfall, however, UNESCO notes that donor countries must increase their aid to education six-fold. This is merely a drop in the ocean compared to global military spending, Malala points out.

“The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund global education - but they are choosing to spend it on other things, like their military budgets,” Malala wrote in a post on the Malala Fund blog.

“In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet,” she added.

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