Education Cannot Wait: Empowering Children in Crisis Through Global Fund for Education

Written by Frida Brekk

In a global landscape characterized by conflicts, disasters, and protracted crises, the fundamental right of education often finds itself neglected. However, since its establishment in 2016, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) has emerged as a beacon of hope for countless children and youth affected by such circumstances. Functioning as the United Nations’ global fund for education in emergencies, ECW strives to bridge the gap that exists between immediate humanitarian response and long-term development aid. Its primary objective is to ensure that children can avail themselves of safe, high-quality, and inclusive education.

Through its significant and impactful initiatives, Education Cannot Wait plays a crucial role in empowering children worldwide. Emergencies, whether arising from conflicts, natural disasters, or other crises, disrupt lives and inflict profound devastation upon communities. Amidst such chaos, the fundamental right to education is often relegated to a secondary concern.

Displaced children, in particular, frequently find themselves deprived of access to schools, teachers, and educational resources, thereby jeopardizing their prospects for a better future. The absence of education further exposes these children to heightened vulnerability, exploitation, and the perpetuation of cycles of poverty and inequality. Acknowledging the pressing urgency of this situation, Education Cannot Wait was established with the explicit purpose of addressing the educational needs of children enduring crisis situations.

The fund operates as a unique partnership that brings together governments, United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, donors, and other stakeholders. Its goal is to mobilize resources and coordinate action to deliver quality education to children and youth affected by emergencies. By aligning humanitarian and development efforts, ECW aims to create sustainable solutions and provide education as a lifeline for affected communities.

How does the ECW fund work?

Key Objectives and Strategies of ECW include endeavours to secure and invest resources for education in emergencies. By leveraging both public and private funds, the fund aims to close the financing gap and ensure sustained support for education programs during crises.

Through its Rapid Response Mechanism, ECW can quickly disburse funds in the early stages of a crisis. This enables the immediate establishment of temporary learning spaces, the recruitment and training of teachers, the provision of learning materials, and the delivery of psychosocial support.

Education Cannot Wait promotes innovative approaches and partnerships to improve education outcomes in emergencies. By collaborating with governments, NGOs, and the private sector, ECW strives to harness technological advancements, adapt education models, and implement effective programs that reach vulnerable children.

Impact and Sucess Story in Africa’s Lake Chad

Since its inception, Education Cannot Wait has made a significant impact on the lives of crisis-affected children. It has reached over 4 million children and youth across more than 30 countries, providing them with access to education and restoring a sense of normalcy amidst chaos. ECW’s initiatives have resulted in increased school enrolment rates, improved learning outcomes, enhanced protection measures, and the empowerment of marginalized groups, particularly girls. 

One notable success story is ECW’s partnership with UNICEF in the Lake Chad Bassin region. Through innovative programming, ECW has established learning spaces, trained teachers, and delivered essential educational materials to children affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. These interventions have allowed children to regain a sense of stability and hope, paving the way for a brighter future.

The violence in Cameroon’s Far North region, coupled with challenges such as poverty, weak public services, armed conflicts, and climate change, have put the affected children and adolescents at risk. ECW’s funding seeks to ensure their safety, rights, and access to quality education. The investment is supporting teacher training, infrastructure development, and community-based initiatives to promote inclusive education and empower girls. This funding complements previous ECW investments in Chad, demonstrating a commitment to education in emergencies and the well-being of crisis-affected children and adolescents.

Education Cannot Wait’s tireless efforts to prioritize education in emergencies have brought hope and transformation to countless children and youth affected by crises worldwide. By bridging the gap between humanitarian response and development aid, ECW has proven that education can be a powerful catalyst for change.

Cover Image: Lake Chad Bassin crisis january 2017 via Flickr


Education Cannot Wait (ECW) Official Website

Ibid. “Where we Work”, Chad.

The Art of Living Free Schools: Nurturing Holistic Education for a Bright Future

Written by Frida Brekk.

The Art of Living Schools[1] represent an educational project established under the umbrella of the Art of Living Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in 1981. Committed to enhancing personal and societal well-being, the Art of Living Foundation spearheads various programs and initiatives to achieve this aim. Recognizing the pivotal role of education in shaping individuals’ lives and cognitive development, the Art of Living Schools has emerged as a distinctive educational initiative that transcends conventional academic approaches. This article delves into the underlying philosophy, mission, and transformative impact of the Art of Living Schools, elucidating their commitment to holistic education and the empowerment of students, paving the way for a promising future.

The Art of Living Schools are distinguished by their comprehensive and holistic approach to education, embracing the fundamental belief that the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected and should be nurtured in unison. Rooted in the wisdom and teachings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the visionary behind the Art of Living Foundation, these schools aspire to cultivate not only the academic growth of students but also their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

By integrating various aspects of human development, the Art of Living Schools empowers students to emerge as well-rounded individuals equipped with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to make meaningful contributions to society. Through this comprehensive educational model, students are not only prepared for academic success but are also encouraged to cultivate inner resilience, emotional intelligence, and a sense of purpose, enabling them to navigate life’s challenges with grace and integrity.

At the core of the Art of Living Schools is the emphasis on values-based education. Students are guided to cultivate qualities such as compassion, integrity, respect, and social responsibility. These values form the foundation for character development, ethical decision-making, and the development of leadership skills. By instilling these values, the Art of Living Schools aim to nurture individuals who contribute to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.

At the forefront of the Art of Living Schools’ educational philosophy lies a commitment to nurturing character development and cultivating essential life skills in conjunction with academic excellence. Recognizing the value of holistic education, students are actively engaged in a wide array of activities that foster teamwork, effective communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities.

Through a deliberate focus on practical life skills encompassing time management, goal setting, and proficient communication, students are equipped with a well-rounded skill set to navigate the multifaceted challenges that lie beyond the boundaries of the classroom. This comprehensive educational approach empowers students to not only excel academically but also thrive in various facets of their lives, enabling them to become resilient, adaptable, and successful individuals.

Within the framework of the Art of Living Schools, a profound commitment to social responsibility and compassionate action is fostered through the integration of service learning into the curriculum. Students are actively involved in community service projects and initiatives that address both local and global issues. By actively engaging in service, students acquire invaluable lessons in selflessness, develop a profound sense of empathy, and recognize the profound significance of contributing to the greater well-being of others.

Understanding the pressures and difficulties that students encounter in our modern, fast-paced world, the Art of Living Schools take a compassionate approach by integrating mindfulness and stress reduction techniques into their educational framework. Students are introduced to valuable practices such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness exercises that foster emotional resilience, stress management, and overall well-being. By equipping students with these lifelong tools, the Art of Living Schools not only support them during their academic journey but also empower them to navigate stress and challenges throughout their lives with confidence and inner strength.

In line with their mission, their focus on education on girls is exemplified through a significant milestone by inaugurating an all-girls school in Parola Village, located in the Udaipur District of Rajasthan. This achievement holds great significance as the village had previously been reluctant to support their daughters’ education. The establishment of this school with 120 students marks a turning point, symbolizing a collective shift in mindset and recognizing the importance of girls’ education. These facilities are equipped and fully inclusive of free books, free uniforms and bags, free transportation, and free computer labs.

“We believe a school is not complete without holistic and quality facilities being provided for the students. These facilities not only act as basics to a decent standard of living but also aim to maintain an enabler/motivator for students and parents.”

A mentionable story of The Art of Living Schools is exemplified through Anushika Anil Kambale, a cheerful and contented student at Shri Shri Gnyan Mandir, has experienced a remarkable transformation since joining the school. Despite her conservative family background and initial fears, Anushika has become enthusiastic about her education and actively participates in school activities. Her behavior and habits have positively changed, and she now encourages her family and neighbors to adopt healthier practices and engage in spiritual activities.

Anushika’s parents credit the Art of Living’s Happiness Program for their family’s newfound happiness and spiritual growth. The positive impact on Anushika’s life has inspired her neighbors to consider enrolling their children in Shri Shri Gnyan Mandir as well. Anushika’s parents express immense gratitude to the school’s teachers and Shri Shri Ravi Shankarji, the inspiration behind the Art of Living Schools, for their transformative work in shaping children and society.

The Art of Living Schools provide a nurturing and transformative educational experience that extends beyond academic excellence. With a focus on holistic development, values-based education, mindfulness, and social impact, these schools strive to empower students to become compassionate, responsible, and well-rounded individuals. By equipping students with life skills, character development, and a sense of purpose, the Art of Living Schools are shaping the leaders and change-makers of tomorrow who will make a positive difference in the world.


The Art of Living Schools website “Overview” Last visited: April 12th

Id. “Stories of Transformation” Last visited: April 12th

Id. “Facilities Provided” Last visited: April 12th

From Slums to Success: The Remarkable Story of Kianda Foundation and Its Impact on Kenya’s Most Vulnerable Communities

Written by Frida Brekk

Kianda Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to empower underprivileged communities in Kenya through education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship. Founded in 2001 by a group of young professionals, the Kianda Foundation has since impacted thousands of Kenyans’ lives. The foundation’s focus on education is evident in its various programs aimed at providing quality education to children in low-income areas. The Early Childhood Development (ECD) program targets children between the ages of 3 and 6 years and provides them with a solid foundation in literacy, numeracy, and social skills. The primary education program focuses on providing quality education to children in grades 1 to 8, while the secondary school program provides scholarships to deserving students to enable them to complete their high school education.

Kianda Foundation’s healthcare program provides basic medical care to children in low-income areas, focusing on preventive care. The program also provides health education to children and their parents to promote healthy living practices. Additionally, the foundation runs a nutrition program that provides meals to school children, ensuring they have access to healthy and nutritious food. The Foundation’s entrepreneurship program aims to empower women and youth through skills training and access to capital. The program provides training in various skills, such as tailoring, hairdressing, and catering, among others. Participants are also provided with capital to start their businesses, enabling them to become self-sufficient and contribute to their communities’ economic development.

Photo by Kevin Menya on Unsplash

One of the notable achievements is the establishment of Kianda School, a top-tier primary school located in the affluent suburb of Muthaiga, Nairobi. The school provides a world-class education to children from diverse backgrounds, with a focus on academic excellence, character formation, and social responsibility. The school’s alumni have excelled in various fields, including medicine, law, and entrepreneurship. The Kianda Foundation founded Kianda School as a flagship school that provides a world-class education to children from diverse backgrounds. One of the school’s notable achievements is its focus on character formation, social responsibility, and academic excellence. The school’s curriculum includes classes on social justice, environmental conservation, and community service, instilling values of empathy and leadership in students. Kianda School’s alumni have excelled in various fields, including medicine, law, and entrepreneurship, and many have become leaders in their communities and beyond.

Kianda Foundation’s impact is evident in the thousands of lives it has touched over the years. Its commitment to empowering communities through education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship has made a significant difference in the lives of underprivileged Kenyans. The foundation’s programs have improved the quality of life for individuals and contributed to the development of communities and the country as a whole. Kianda Foundation is undoubtedly a testament to the power of individuals coming together to make a difference. Its commitment to empowering underprivileged communities through education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship is an inspiration to many.

Grace was a young girl living in the slums of Nairobi when she was enrolled in the Kianda Foundation’s Early Childhood Development program. Before joining the program, Grace had never held a pencil or attended school. However, Grace quickly learned how to read and write through the program’s quality education and nurturing environment. She also developed social skills and gained confidence in herself. After completing the ECD program, Grace was enrolled in Kianda Primary School, where she excelled academically. She received a scholarship from the Kianda Foundation to complete her high school education. Today, Grace is a successful businesswoman and a role model to many young girls in her community.

Mary was a single mother living in a low-income area of Nairobi. She had always dreamed of starting her own business but needed more skills and capital to do so. Through Kianda Foundation’s entrepreneurship program, Mary received training in tailoring and was provided with a microfinance loan to start her own tailoring business. With hard work and determination, Mary’s business grew, and she was able to support her family and employ other women in her community. Mary is now a successful entrepreneur and a mentor to other women in her community who aspire to start their businesses.

Another remarkable accomplishment through the Kianda Foundation is the story of Rosemary Njeri. Rosemary grew up in the slums of Nairobi and had limited access to education and economic opportunities. However, her life changed when she was enrolled in Kianda Foundation’s primary school. Rosemary excelled academically and was awarded a scholarship by the Kianda Foundation to attend a prestigious high school in Kenya. She continued to excel in her studies and was awarded a scholarship to attend the United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) in Nairobi. At USIU-A, Rosemary pursued a degree in international business administration and was actively involved in various extracurricular activities. After completing her degree, Rosemary worked for several years in the private sector in Kenya before returning to Kianda Foundation as a program officer. In this role, she oversaw the foundation’s entrepreneurship program, which provides training and microfinance loans to women and youth in low-income areas. Under Rosemary’s leadership, the entrepreneurship program expanded and reached more people in need. Many of the program’s beneficiaries went on to start successful businesses, creating jobs and contributing to their communities’ development. In recognition of her outstanding work, Rosemary was selected to participate in the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship, a flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that brings together young African leaders for leadership training and networking opportunities in the United States. Today, Rosemary is a successful social entrepreneur and a role model to many young women in Kenya. She is the founder of La Fédération Des Femmes Entrepreneurs Du Cameroun, a social enterprise that empowers women entrepreneurs in Cameroon. Rosemary’s success is a testament to the transformative power of education and the impact that grassroots organizations like the Kianda Foundation can have on people’s lives.

These stories are just a few examples of the many lives impacted by the Kianda Foundation. The foundation’s commitment to sustainably empower individuals and communities through education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship has made a significant difference in the lives of underprivileged Kenyans. The foundation’s impact is a reminder that with dedication, hard work, and a sense of purpose, we can all make a difference in the world.

Kianda Foundation’s programs and impact:

  • Since its inception in 2001, the Kianda Foundation has impacted over 25,000 children and young people in Kenya.
  • The foundation’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) program has provided quality education to over 10,000 children in low-income areas.
  • The primary education program has supported over 1,500 students in their primary school education.
  • The secondary school program has awarded over 500 scholarships to deserving students, enabling them to complete their high school education.
  • The healthcare program has provided medical care to over 8,000 children in low-income areas and has reached over 20,000 children through health education programs.
  • The nutrition program has provided over 250,000 meals to children in schools.
  • The entrepreneurship program has trained over 1,000 women and youth in various skills and has provided over 500 microfinance loans to entrepreneurs.
  • Kianda School, the foundation’s flagship primary school, has over 700 students from diverse backgrounds and consistently ranks among the top schools in Kenya in national exams.
  • Kianda Foundation’s programs have received support from various donors and partners, including USAID, Rotary International, and the Kenyan government.

The foundation’s impact goes beyond just the numbers. Kianda Foundation has empowered communities through its various programs by providing access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. The foundation’s focus on empowering women and youth is particularly noteworthy, as it has enabled individuals who would otherwise not have had access to such opportunities to become self-sufficient and contribute to their communities development. Kianda Foundation’s impact on the lives of individuals and communities is a testament to the power of grassroots organizations to effect change and make a lasting impact.


Navigating Linguistic Diversity: Educational Challenges and Strategies in Multilingual Andorra

Written by Frida Brekk

Andorra, a small principality nestled in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, faces several challenges in its education system. With a limited population, access to higher education can be restricted, and the linguistic diversity of Catalan, Spanish, and French poses difficulties for some students. The country also grapples with a teacher shortage, particularly in specialized subjects, and there is a need for more vocational training opportunities.

Andorra. Photo by WallpaperFlare

Achieving educational equity and modernizing teaching approaches are additional areas of concern.

However, Andorra strives to adapt its curriculum to meet the changing needs of the job market while providing a quality education for its students.

Present day Andorra has three official languages—Catalan, Spanish, and French—due to historical, cultural, and geographical influences. Catalan has a strong historical and cultural presence in the region, while the proximity to Spain and France has led to the adoption of Spanish and French as official languages. This linguistic diversity reflects Andorra’s cultural heritage, and the recognition of multiple official languages demonstrates inclusivity, preserves linguistic and cultural diversity, and ensures that the rights and identities of its inhabitants are respected. This language diversity can create challenges in the education system and other sectors of the country.

The linguistic diversity poses challenges as it requires educational institutions to accommodate all three languages to their curriculum and instruction. It can be demanding for students and teachers to become proficient in multiple languages and can result in a heavy workload.

Additionally, Andorra has a multicultural population, and students from various linguistic backgrounds may enroll in schools. This further adds to the language barrier, as students whose primary language is not one of the official languages may face difficulties in understanding and communicating effectively.

The language barrier in Andorra necessitates dedicated efforts to provide language instruction, resources, and support to ensure that all students have equal access to education and opportunities. It also presents opportunities for cultural exchange and multilingualism but requires careful planning and resources to address the challenges that arise due to the linguistic diversity.

Addressing the language-imposed educational challenges in Andorra requires a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. Firstly, investment in language support programs is crucial to assist students in developing proficiency in all three official languages. These programs should provide targeted language instruction, personalized tutoring, and access to language acquisition resources. By tailoring support to the specific needs of students, language barriers can be overcome, and students can improve their language skills. Secondly, providing ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers is vital. Teachers should receive training on effective language instruction strategies, techniques for incorporating language learning across the curriculum, and addressing the unique challenges faced by students from diverse language backgrounds. By equipping teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge, they can better support students in their language development journey. Additionally, curriculum adaptation is necessary to address the needs of students in a multilingual environment. The curriculum should be designed to foster language development in all three languages, ensuring that content is accessible and supportive of language learning. Incorporating culturally relevant materials and diverse perspectives can enhance students’ engagement and language acquisition.

Lastly, promoting equitable assessment practices is important to fairly evaluate students’ learning outcomes. Assessment methods should consider students’ language proficiency in multiple languages and account for their linguistic diversity. Providing clear guidelines and accommodations for students with different language backgrounds can ensure that assessments accurately reflect their knowledge and skills. Overall, creating an inclusive and supportive environment is crucial. It involves fostering a positive school culture that values linguistic diversity and provides opportunities for students to develop proficiency in multiple languages. By investing in language support programs, offering professional development for teachers, adapting the curriculum, and implementing equitable assessment practices, Andorra can address the language-imposed educational challenges and ensure that all students receive a quality education.


Everything about education in Andorra. (2021, June 9). Les Bullideres.

Enjuba: Empowering Ugandan  Children through Education and Literacy

Written by Frida Brekk

Enjuba is a dedicated children’s education organization in Uganda with a mission to improve literacy and executive function skills among young learners. By offering innovative programs and leveraging technology, Enjuba aims to empower children and provide them with the tools they need to succeed in their education and beyond. This article explores the initiatives and impact of Enjuba in transforming the educational landscape for Ugandan children.

Spelling and writing competitions contribute to improve learning outcomes of children in Uganda. Photo by enjuba.

A core focus of Enjuba is enhancing literacy skills among Ugandan children. They employ evidence-based teaching methods and innovative approaches to foster reading comprehension, writing proficiency, and critical thinking skills. Through engaging and interactive activities, Enjuba aims to instill a love for reading and enhance overall literacy levels, which are crucial for academic success and personal development.

Enjuba recognizes the importance of executive function skills, such as attention, memory, organization, and self-regulation, in a child’s learning journey. Their programs are designed to develop these skills, enabling children to manage time effectively, set goals, solve problems, and make informed decisions. By strengthening executive function abilities, Enjuba equips children with the cognitive tools necessary for lifelong learning and success.

Enjuba harnesses the power of technology and technological integration as critical in order to enhance educational experiences. Enjuba provides children with access to educational content and activities that supplement classroom learning through their digital platforms, such as interactive learning apps and online resources. This technology integration expands learning opportunities, particularly in areas with limited resources, and fosters digital literacy skills that are increasingly essential in the modern world.

Recognizing educational support and the pivotal role of teachers, Enjuba offers professional development programs and ongoing support to educators. Enjuba helps teachers enhance their instructional techniques, incorporate student-centred approaches, and effectively implement literacy and executive function strategies in the classroom through workshops, mentoring, and resources. By empowering teachers, Enjuba extends its impact and ensures sustainable improvements in education.

Enjuba actively engages and collaborates with local communities, parents, and stakeholders to foster a collaborative approach to education. They involve parents in their children’s learning journey through workshops and home-based activities, creating a supportive environment that reinforces educational goals. Collaborations with schools, government agencies, and other organizations enable Enjuba to reach a wider audience and advocate for educational reforms and policies.

Enjuba is making a significant impact on children’s education in Uganda through its dedication to improving literacy and executive function skills. By utilizing innovative approaches, integrating technology, and providing teacher training, Enjuba equips Ugandan children with the necessary tools for success in their academic and personal lives. Through its commitment to community engagement and collaboration, Enjuba is fostering a holistic approach to education, empowering children, and creating a brighter future for Uganda.


enjuba – See the World Differently. (n.d.). Retrieved from

enjuba (@enjuba1) / Twitter. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Education Challenges for Girls in Niger: A Critical Analysis

Written by Frida Brekk

Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa, faces significant challenges in providing quality education to its population, particularly girls. Despite efforts to improve education in recent years, Niger ranks among the countries with the highest gender disparity in education. This article aims to explore the educational challenges faced by girls in Niger, examining the factors contributing to the gender gap and discussing the implications for the overall development of the nation.

Students in physics class. Makalondi Secondary School, Makalondi, Tilaberri Region, Niger. Photo by GPE/Kelley Lynch

Limited access to education is one of the primary challenges for girls in Niger. According to a report by The Guardian, Niger ranks among the ten worst countries for girls to receive an education. Factors contributing to this include early marriage and pregnancy; high rates of child marriage and early pregnancy often force girls to drop out of school, as societal norms prioritize early marriage over education, distance and infrastructure as remote rural areas lack proper school infrastructure, making it difficult for girls to access educational institutions, poverty and financial barriers; economic constraints often prevent families from sending their daughters to school, as they struggle to cover basic needs and associated education costs, security concerns; instances of conflict and instability limit educational opportunities for girls, particularly in areas affected by violence and displacement.

Girls in Niger also face discrimination and unequal treatment within the education system due to gender disparity. This discrimination manifests in various forms, including social differences. Traditional gender roles and cultural norms often dictate that girls prioritize domestic duties and caregiving over education, reinforcing gender inequalities. Lack of female teachers; shortage of female teachers in Niger makes it challenging for girls to find role models and receive guidance, contributing to the gender gap in education. And instances of gender-based violence, such as sexual harassment and assault, create hostile learning environments for girls, impacting their educational participation and achievement.

Another main concern is the quality of education in Niger. Even for girls who manage to access education, the quality of schooling remains a significant concern, and there are many factors affecting the quality of education in Niger. Schools often lack basic infrastructure, teaching materials, and resources, affecting the quality of instruction and learning outcomes for both girls and boys. Inadequate resources in the education system pose a significant concern for the overall quality of education and have particular implications for girls in Niger. Gender bias in curriculum materials and teaching practices may reinforce gender stereotypes and perpetuate biases, limiting girls’ educational opportunities. Additionally, insufficient training and support for teachers, particularly in addressing gender disparities, hampers the delivery of inclusive and gender-responsive education.

The challenges girls face in accessing quality education in Niger have profound implications for individual well-being, social progress, and the country’s overall development. Addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach, inclusive of policy reforms, investment in infrastructure, empowerment and awareness, and teacher training and support. To effectively promote gender equality in education, the government of Niger must prioritize policies and initiatives that address gender-based discrimination and societal barriers. Enhancing educational infrastructure, particularly in remote areas, is crucial to improving access to education for girls. Insufficient educational infrastructure in remote regions poses significant barriers. Community awareness campaigns are vital in challenging societal norms and promoting positive attitudes towards this issue. And finally, providing comprehensive training and support for teachers, focusing on gender-responsive pedagogy, can improve the quality of education and promote gender equality in schools.

By acknowledging and actively addressing the challenges mentioned above, Niger can undertake a transformative journey towards establishing an education system that is inclusive and equitable, thereby empowering girls and fostering the holistic development of the nation.

This education system entails implementing a range of effective strategies, including but not limited to policy reforms, infrastructure investments, empowerment initiatives, and teacher training programs. By adopting this comprehensive approach, Niger can strive towards an educational landscape where girls have equal access to quality education, where gender disparities are minimized, and where the potential of all individuals is harnessed to drive progress and prosperity at both the individual and societal levels.


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Silencing Education: Israel’s Demolition of EU-Funded Schools in Palestine Stirs Outcry and Undermines Human Rights

Written by Frida Brekk

Recent events in Palestine have raised concerns and sparked outrage as Israel demolishes EU-funded schools, drawing widespread criticism from international bodies. These demolitions have intensified regional tensions and highlighted the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This article aims to provide an overview of the situation, exploring the reasons behind the demolitions, the reactions from various stakeholders, and the implications for education in Palestine.

A Palestinian school demolished by Israeli Occupation Forces in Hebron, occupied Palestine. Photo by Falastin-48.

On May 7, 2023, Israel demolished a Palestinian school funded by the European Union, prompting condemnation from the international community and eliciting strong criticism from the global community. The school, located in a Palestinian village in the West Bank, was part of a broader initiative to support and bolster educational opportunities in the region. This demolition has emerged as a pivotal moment within the highly volatile context, exacerbating the anger and frustration among Palestinians and their supporters. This incident has intensified the already heightened emotions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adding to the grievances and discontent within the affected communities.

The Israeli authorities have put forth several justifications for the destruction. They have highlighted the lack of proper permits and non-compliance with building regulations as primary reasons for their actions. Israeli officials argue these structures were erected without authorization and pose potential security risks. However, critics of these demolitions raise significant concerns about the complexity and restrictiveness of the Israeli permit process. They argue that Palestinians face numerous obstacles in obtaining the necessary permits, creating a cycle wherein unauthorized construction becomes the only viable option. Consequently, the demolitions become an unfortunate consequence of the limitations imposed by the Israeli permit system, perpetuating a cycle of illegal construction and subsequent destruction of vital educational infrastructure in Palestinian communities. This cycle disrupts Palestinian students’ lives and undermines the prospects of stability and development in the region.

Israel’s demolition of EU-funded schools in Palestine has ignited significant international condemnation, with the European Union emerging as a prominent voice of criticism. The EU has vehemently expressed its profound apprehension regarding destroying educational infrastructure, considering it a clear violation of international law. The incident has strained the relationship between Israel and the European Union, leading to deliberations on potential ramifications and diplomatic consequences.

The condemnation from the EU underscores the gravity of the situation and emphasizes the urgency for a resolution to address the demolition of these vital educational facilities. School demolitions have far-reaching implications for education in the region. Beyond the immediate destruction of physical infrastructure, these demolitions infringe upon Palestinian children’s fundamental right to education. Access to quality education is vital for the holistic development of children, encompassing their social, intellectual, and emotional growth. By demolishing schools, the academic progress of Palestinian students is disrupted, depriving them of a fundamental human right.

Moreover, the demolitions undermine international efforts to improve educational opportunities in Palestine. The European Union and other international entities have been actively supporting and funding initiatives to enhance education in the region. These efforts aim to provide Palestinian children with quality education, equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary for their future. However, the destruction of EU-funded schools undermines these collective endeavours, hindering progress towards achieving educational development goals. The denial of education impacts individual students and has broader consequences for the entire Palestinian society. Education plays a crucial role in shaping the future of communities, fostering social cohesion, and empowering individuals to contribute positively to their institutions. The demolition of schools obstructs these transformative processes, perpetuating a cycle of inequality and limited opportunities for Palestinian children. Addressing the implications of the destruction of education in Palestine requires collective action and international cooperation. Efforts must be made to rebuild and rehabilitate educational infrastructure, ensuring Palestinian children access safe and conducive learning environments. Additionally, advocacy for protecting the right to education, as enshrined in international human rights instruments, is crucial.

Human rights organizations and proponents of Palestinian rights have strongly emphasized the need for accountability and cessation of the demolitions of EU-funded schools in Palestine. These advocates assert that Israel must be held responsible for destroying educational infrastructure, considering it a violation of the right to education enshrined in international human rights frameworks. The call for accountability resonates with the broader aim of ensuring that all parties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are held to the standards of international law. It emphasizes the significance of safeguarding the right to education as a fundamental human right, especially for vulnerable populations such as Palestinian children.

Additionally, these organizations and advocates urge international bodies to take tangible and proactive measures to protect and promote the right to education in Palestine, including monitoring and reporting on violations, engaging in diplomatic efforts to halt the demolitions, and supporting the reconstruction and rehabilitation of educational infrastructure.

The involvement of international entities in safeguarding the right to education is essential to create a conducive and secure environment for Palestinian students to access quality education. By advocating for accountability and appealing to international bodies, human rights organizations and advocates for Palestinian rights aim to bring attention to the violations of educational rights in Palestine. Their efforts seek to ensure that all children in the region have equal opportunities for education and the chance to develop their potential, contributing to a more just and equitable future.

The demolition has unleashed a powerful surge of criticism and alarm, casting a glaring spotlight on the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The obliteration of educational infrastructure stands as a formidable barrier to the aspirations of Palestinian children, impeding their path to quality education and hindering their overall development. In response, the international community, including influential players such as the European Union, has united in a resounding call for accountability and a relentless pursuit of resolution. These collective efforts aim to prevent further human rights violations, particularly the right to education, and ensure that every child in Palestine has an unimpeded opportunity to flourish academically, fostering a future of dignity and equality.


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Educational Challenges in Cameroon

Written by Frida Martine E. Brekk

 Cameroon is known as “Africa in miniature”, a country located in central Africa, bordered by Nigeria to the west, Chad to the northeast, the Central African Republic to the east, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south, and Equatorial Guinea to the southwest. With a population over 25 million, Cameroon is one of the most ethnically diverse countries within the African continent, with more than 250 ethnic groups and languages. The country is known for its unique cultural heritage, natural beauty, and abundant natural resources, including oil, gas and minerals. However, Cameroon also faces an array of challenges inclusive of educational barriers, high poverty, inequality, political instability, and environmental degradation. Despite these challenges, the country has made significant progress in recent years, and is working towards achieving sustainable development, and economic stability overall.

Cameroon, like many other nations in the African continent, faces a range of educational challenges that limit access to quality education and hinder the development of human capital. Despite progress in recent years, significant gaps in access, quality and relevance of education persist, particularly in rural areas and among marginalized populations. Inadequate infrastructure and resources, gender inequalities, poor quality of education, vocational training mismatches, and limited funding area some of the key challenges that Cameroon’s education system faces. Addressing these challenges is crucial for improving and promoting inclusive and sustainable development, reduction of poverty, and improving the overall well-being of the country’s citizens. Addressing the obstacles of Cameroons educational challenges will require a concerted effort from the government, civil society, and the international community to increase access to education, and ensure that students are receiving the skills and training required to further succeed in the job market.

Access is largely to blame in regards to the country’s challenges on the topic of education. Despite the nations progress in recent years, many children, particularly in rural areas, still lack access to quality education. This is due to a severe lack of infrastructure and resources including schools, textbooks, and qualified teachers. Many educational institutions in Cameroon are poor in condition, with inadequate facilities and a shortage of lecturers, professors and teachers.

Additionally, there is a significant gender disparity in access to education, with girls facing particular challenges in accessing education due to cultural beliefs and attitudes, poverty, early marriage, and pregnancy. These are particularly acute in rural areas, where the majority of families struggle to afford the costs of education, and there are fewer schools and teachers. As a result, many children find themselves forced to drop out of school prematurely or are never able to attend to begin with, which results in a limitation of opportunities for economic and social advancement. Lack of access to education not only limits individuals ability to secure employment and earn a sustainable income and life, but also limits the potential of individuals to improve their living standards and overcome and reduce poverty on a national scale. In order to address these challenges, the government of Cameroon must work towards the investment of educational infrastructure, increase the number of educators, and directly address the underlying social and economic barriers that enable limitation of access to education for marginalized communities.

 Cameroon’s education system faces notable challenges with regard to gender disparities and gender inequalities. Girls continue to face significant barriers to accessing education. Cultural attitudes, poverty, early marriage, and pregnancy all contribute to lower enrollment rates and higher drop out rates among girls. This not only limits their opportunities for independent, personal growth and development but also hinders the overall development of the nation as a whole. In addition to lower enrollment rates, girls also face discrimination in the classroom. They are often subjected to lower expectations, receiving less attention from teachers, and are therefore given fewer opportunities for advanced study. This hinders social mobility and perpetuates a cycle of gender inequality that limits the potential of girls and women alike, both in terms of personal achievement and contributions to the country’s economy and society.

According to UNESCO data, in 2019, the net enrollment rate for girls in primary school in Cameroon was 83.5%, compared to 92.4% for boys. For secondary school, the net enrollment rate for girls was 33.5%, compared to 42.1% for boys. Drop out rates for girls are also significantly higher than for boys at both the primary and secondary levels. According to the Ministry of Basic Education, the primary school dropout rates for girls was at 10.6% in 2018, compared to 7.6% for boys. At the secondary level, the dropout rate for girls was 36.5% , compared to 26.2% for boys.

Cameroon has implemented a range of policies and programs aimed at promoting gender equality within the education system. These efforts include elimination of gender stereotypes in the classroom promotion of girls’ education in rural areas, and provide financial support to families in hopes to offset the costs of schooling. Non-governmental organizations and civil society groups have played a critical role in advancing gender equality in education, working to raise awareness of the importance of girls’ education by supporting programs that promote access to these marginalized groups. Despite these efforts, progress has been slow, and significant challenges very much remain. Further action and effort is required to address social norms that perpetuated gender inequality, and promote equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their gender or socio-economic background and status. By actively addressing these challenges, Cameroon can assist in ensuring that all of its citizens have the opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute to the overall growth and development of their nation.

The lack of quality in Cameroon’s education system is another vital concern. The quality of education and the system remains low, with limited resources and inadequate teacher training and certification. According to the World Bank, only 47% of students can read a simple sentence in French or English by the end of primary school, and only 32% can do basic mathematics. This lack of quality in education results in significant implications for the country’s overall development and advancement, as it limits the potential of its citizens and therefore inhibits economic growth. The access to quality education is ever more linked to socio-economic status, with children from poorer families less likely to have access to quality education. This contributes to a never ending cycle of poverty and inequality, with limited opportunities for those who are unable to access said education. Cameroon’s policies and efforts to provide advanced training to teachers, increase access to newer textbooks and alike learning materials, and promote the use of technology within classrooms has fallen short – much more needs to be done to ensure access to quality education.

Non-governmental organizations and civil society groups have played a critical role in promoting access to education, working to improve trainings and through support programs in hopes of better learning outcomes. These efforts have been imperative in advancing access for marginalized communities. Moreover, the majority of educational materials and textbooks used are outdated, with little effort made to update the content or incorporate new teaching methods. This has led to a mismatch between the skills taught in schools and the demands of the ever evolving job market, hindering the ability of students to develop the skills required to succeed in todays modern economy.

Alongside the lack of material, Cameroon’s significant challenge lays in overcrowded educational institutions, which are more prevalent in rural areas. According to a report by the World Bank, the student-teacher ratio in primary schools is approximately 49:1, which is substantially higher than the recommended ratio of 30:1. This places a strain on the education infrastructure and disables teachers from providing individualized attentions students. Educational institutions lack basic facilities such as classrooms, desks and chairs, resulting in students sitting on the floor or sharing desks, which can lead to further distractions in an already deficient environment – hindering their ability to learn and develop new skills. As many schools are underfunded and struggle to meet basic needs, let alone invest in newer resources – resulting in outdated textbooks, resources and equipment and further results in failure to engage and motivate students. Additionally, the procurement process for textbooks and learning materials can be slow and bureaucratic, making it difficult to obtain the latest materials in a timely manner, or in any way at all. Lack of internet access and digital infrastructure is another major challenge faced by the education institutions in Cameroon.

Unemployment is a staggering challenge, particularity among the youth of Cameroon. According to the World Bank, the youth unemployment rate was estimated to be over 13% in 2019, and this figure is ever likely to already be higher in reality due to underemployment and informal work. One major factor contributing to this issue is the lack of vocational training programs. Vocational training programs have successfully proven to provide skills and experience required to enter the workforce and further build sustainable livelihoods. However, these programs are often limited in scope and accessibility, or completely nonexistent due to the high cost of tuition as well as limited availability of said programs. Additionally, there is often a mismatch between the skills taught in vocational training programs alongside the needs of employers within the current, yet ever changing job market. Lack of vocational training programs contributes to a cycle of poverty and unemployment, particularly in rural areas where access to formal education and thereafter job opportunities, if existent, is limited. This results in youth taking on low-paying jobs, as well as work in the informal economy, where wages are inadequate and working conditions are uncontrolled, and can be hazardous. In order to take action towards this concern, the government of Cameroon has launched a “National Vocational Training Strategy” aimed at expanding the reach and scope of vocational training programs across the country, as well as partnering alongside already established international organizations in providing funding and further support. Said NGOs, and international organizations alike have providing further independent funding and resources in advocating for policy reforms aimed at expanding access to quality vocational training. By ensuring these programs are tailored to the needs of the labor market, Cameroon can assist in the reduction of unemployment and provide its citizens with the skills and required experience to build sustainable livelihoods, as this would be in the interest to the economic advancement of the country as a whole.

In recent years, education funding in Cameroon has been a high topic of concern as the government continues to fall short in meeting the needs. Despite the governments commitment to education, the allocation of resources to the sector has been inadequate, leading to an array of setbacks and shortcomings. According to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program, Cameroon’s education sector is facing a funding shortfall of over $300 million. This funding gap has had a severe impact on the quality of education in the country, where schools often lack basic amenities as aforementioned. A critical issue being the lack of investment in the training and recruitment of educators. The majority of educational institutions in the nation struggle to attract and retain qualified teachers due to poor working conditions and even lower salaries, resulting in students left with inadequate instruction. Infrastructure is also underfunded, resulting in a lack of running water, electricity and proper sanitation facilities, making it difficult for students to study and pursue their studies in a conducive environment. This lack of infrastructure has led to a high drop out rate. Despite these challenges, the government has implemented the “Education Sector Plan” (ESP) in 2018. The ESP aims to improve access to quality education, particularly for girls, and increase investment in teacher training as well as recruitment. However, critics argue that the governments efforts fall short and much more needs to be done in addressing the shortcomings within the country’s education sector. They point to the fact that Cameroon’s education spending is well below the recommendation of 20% of the national budget, with only 13% allocated to the sector in 2020. Education funding in Cameroon remains a staggering challenge that requires immediate, urgent and transparent attention. The government must prioritize investment in the sectors to ensure that all students have access to quality education in order to achieve their full potential. Failure to do so will mean long-term implications for the country’s social and economical development.

Lack of education exacerbates health problems in Cameroon. Education plays a vital and imperative role in promoting health, particularly in areas such as maternal and child health, infectious diseases, and nutrition. Lack of education hinders the populations ability to access health education and information, leading to preventable health issues and lack of knowledge and skills to take care of their health in preventing diseases, seek appropriate medical care, or understanding in the importance of vaccinations and other preventative measures. Secondly, many Cameroonians may not be aware of the risks of certain behaviors, such as unprotected sex, that can lead to the transmission of diseases. Lack of education limits their understanding of health-related issues and reduces the individuals ability to make informed decisions accordingly. Thirdly, lack of education statistically contributes directly to poor nutrition, which is a significant health problem in this western African nation. Malnutrition affects a significant portion of the population, specifically children under the age of 5. It is studied that without education, individuals may not known how to grow, prepare, and consume a balanced diet.

Additionally, the lack of education directly hinders the country’s ability to address public health issues such as epidemics and pandemics. During Covid-19, the lack of education was directly connected to the difficulties endured by the population to understand and comply with health guidelines, leading to increased transmission rates. Lastly, women who lack education are less likely to seek medical care when necessary, as lack of education limits their ability to access health care altogether which directly results in higher rates of maternal and child mortality. In addition to strengthening the education sector, the health education should also be integrated into the curriculum in a safe, conclusive and secure manner for both genders alike.

Additionally, the lack of education contributes to social unrest as well as political instability. When individuals are unable to secure employment or participate fully in the economy, they are more likely to become involved in criminal activities or even join extremist groups. In Cameroon, the lack of education has been identified as a contributing factor to the rise of Boko Haram and other extremist groups. Boko Haram are recognized as a group seeking to establish the Islamic state, whilst opposing western education, which they view as a threat to their ideology, this extremist group is a concern within Cameroon in regards to the education sector. Boko Haram has specifically targeted schools, particularly those in the northern regions of the country, where poverty and lack of education are prevalent. The group has abducted school children and attacked institutions, resulting in the closure of schools and hindering children’s access to education. Boko Haram has been recognized in using education as a recruitment tool, targeting vulnerable youth who lack access to education by promising them ‘a better life’ if they join the group. Poverty has fueled hopelessness among youth in Cameroon, making them vulnerable to extremist ideologies. Additionally, this has perpetuated social inequality, particularly gender disparities, which have resulted in the exploitation of girls and women by the extremist groups. To counter the rise of existing and creation of further extremist groups, the focus on education is imperative.

Cameroon’s English speaking minority has been marginalized by the dominant francophone nation since 2017. The unresolved and ongoing civil war conflict has resulted in at least 15 attacks at in schools, resulting in the shut down and depriving 700,000 students from education. The education system has been held hostage by this military-separatist war. “Armed separatists bear full responsibility for these targeted attacks on education, but the response of the Cameroonian government and security forces has been inadequate and is hampered by the numerous abusive counterinsurgency operations in the Anglophone regions, which have spread deep mistrust among the civilian population victimized by these operations,” according to HRW. This has resulted in “uneducated generation of Anglophone youth joining criminal fighters because they lack other economic survival skills” writes journalist Aurore Bonny for the Anadolu Agency.

Cameroon faces various educational challenges that consistently hinder the country’s progress towards sustainable development. While significant progress has been made, much still needs to be accomplished in order to ensure that every Cameroonian has access to equal and quality education. Addressing these challenges will demand a collective, unified and transparent effort from the government, civil society organizations, and international partners. Only then can Cameroon provide its citizens with the tools required in order to build a prosperous future and contribute to the development of their nation.