By: Xinhua Agency
Ethiopia is experiencing one of the largest education crises globally, mainly due to internal conflict and the effects of climate change, a senior UN official has said.
“More than 3.6 million children across Ethiopia are out of school directly as a result of conflict and climate-induced disasters,” said Graham Lang, chief of education at Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises established at the World Humanitarian Summit.
Based on estimates by the government of Ethiopia, over 13 million children are out of school in the east African country, and the figure has seen a rapid increase due to internal conflict over the past two years, Lang told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Lang said half a million Ethiopian children did not go to school during the past six months because of climate-induced disasters, particularly drought.
Noting that 222 million children and adolescents are impacted by forced displacement and crises globally, Lang said the African continent is the worst-hit region by protracted and often forgotten crises.
Talking about the impacts of conflict and instability on access to education in Africa, Lang said the security crisis in the Sahel region, including Mali, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as across East Africa, has caused massive internal displacements, which are severely impacting the rights of children and adolescents to education.
Stressing that education is the key to resolving instability and security crises in Africa, He said there is incredible resilience among communities in crisis-hit areas and a need for education to continue during those crises.
“We are seeing how governments, local actors, international organizations are rallying around to adapt and respond to those changing circumstances, to ensure that those rights of children and adolescents are upheld, even in these most damaging crises,” Lang said.
Despite growing demand, capacity, and resilience for education in crisis-affected areas, the official said funding shortfall remains a major challenge to giving children and adolescents in Africa their right to education.
“There is a proliferation of climate-induced disasters in Africa,” said Lang, citing cases such as the recent floods in Chad and drought in the Horn of Africa region, including Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
Highlighting the importance of education to promote peace, ECW’s chief of education has called for joint efforts to help children and adolescents in conflict-affected areas of Africa access education.
“Education is a pathway to peace. It is absolutely critical to promote resilience and encourage tolerance, mutual respect, and ability to negotiate; peace will never be achieved without an educated population,” he said.
Lang added that education is also fundamental to mitigating the impacts of climate change and promoting climate-sensitive approaches