UN Announces Launch of World’s First Tuition-Free, Online University – news from INEE

The Inter Agency for Education in Emergencies INEE publish a newsletter -her e are three articles from the recent edition,June 2009. Perhaps with better, more humanitarian approaches to education, perhaps we are likely to get fewer conflicts and therefore fewer emergencies effecting children. It is worth hoping and acting!

UN Announces Launch of World’s First Tuition-Free, Online University

(UN News Centre)

A leading arm of the United Nations working to spread the benefits of information technology today announced the launch of the first ever tuition-free online university.

As part of this year’s focus on education, the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technology and Development (<“http://un-gaid.ning.com/”>GAID) presented the newly formed University of the People, a non-profit institution offering higher education to the masses.

“This year the Global Alliance has focused its attention on education [and] how ICT can advance education goals around the world,” a spokesperson for GAID told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

For hundreds of millions of people around the world higher education is no more than a dream, Shai Reshef, the founder of the University of the People, told reporters. They are constrained by finances, the lack of institutions in their region, or they are not able to leave home to study at a university for personal reasons.

The only charge to students is a $15 to $50 admission fee, depending on their country of origin, and a processing fee for every test ranging from $10 to $100. For the University to sustain its operation, it needs 15,000 students and $6 million, of which Mr. Reshef has donated $1 million of his own money.

For the full story click here

Over a trillion dollars is spent on arms each year -some of those arms are directed at schools.
Take a look at this article:

INTERVIEW: Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict on Attacks On Schools and Education within Humanitarian Response

(UNESCO)

Radhika Coomaraswamy recently spoke with EduInfo in New York about attacks on schools and other grave violations against children. Ms. Coomaraswamy was appointed to her position by the UN Secretary-General and serves as a moral voice and independent advocate for the rights and protection of children affected by armed conflict.

The following portion of a May 2009 interview with Ms. Coomaraswamy (provided by UNESCO) is of particular relevance to the INEE community:

Attacks on schools are among the grave violations covered in the Secretary-General’s annual report published last month. Are we witnessing an escalation of such attacks?

Our Report covers six grave violations of international humanitarian law, of which attacks on schools and hospitals are one. The increasing number of incidents of violence directed against schools, teachers and girls going to school is an alarming new development. We are very concerned about attacks on schools by aerial bombardment, the direct targeting of schools, teachers and students, or the use of schools for military activities. These attacks represent a violation of international humanitarian law and perpetrators must be held accountable for such actions.

What is your reading of attacks on schools?

At some point we have to deal with the fundamental issue that some people believe that girls should not go to school, that science should not be taught to girls or that government secular education is evil. We must find strategies to counter those fundamental prejudices. This is a big task that cannot only be addressed at UN level. It is also about getting a majority of people living in places where schools are being attacked to continue believing in education and advocating for it.

When I was in Afghanistan I spoke with Aisha, a ten-year old girl. Her parents’ house was damaged in an aerial bombardment; she lost several relatives; her school was attacked and some of her teachers were killed. She told me how she was determined to go back to school and did. She said that school gave her courage and a sense of strength and security. In North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I met with a 12-year-old girl who had joined the Mai Mai militia because her parents could no longer pay for school and because she thought carrying a gun would protect her from being raped. However, as with thousands of other children in Congo, she was sexually violated and abused by her commanders. Recently Mai Mai groups have entered into the peace process and Adila was released. She is now in an NGO Transit Centre and has just gone back to school. Her eyes lit up when she told me that she plans to be a school teacher.

Education is not yet a high priority in many humanitarian crises. How do you make a case for it?

The basic attitude is that if you have a humanitarian crisis, the immediate response is usually about food, shelter, water sanitation and if possible health issues. But emergency programs should also include education for children because it is a fundamental right and because it helps the situation. Children need safety and routine. This can prevent them from being recruited into armed groups. It is known that refugee camps and camps for internally displaced people are one of the main recruiting grounds because kids drift away and have nothing to do. Former child soldiers have also testified how going back to school has helped them to build trust and regain a sense of humanity. It is important to advance the notion of schools as zones of peace that all parties respect and where kids can feel secure.

TOOLKIT: I Painted Peace – Handbook on Peace Building with and for Children and Young People

(Save the Children) Save the Children is pleased to share I Painted Peace – a Handbook on Peace Building with and for Children and Young People with the INEE community.  In this handbook you will find examples of peace building from children and young people in four different countries. They present experiences, achievements and plans. It is hoped that the handbook can be useful for children and young people in other countries in their efforts to contributing to peace.

The handbook is important as it recognises children’s role as agents of peace. The idea behind I Painted Peace is to encourage more adults to listen to girls’ and boys’ voices carefully and seriously and to work with them as partners in creating and sustaining peace. In this way, the handbook helps to promote children’s participation leading to the better fulfillment of children’s rights.

Section II of the handbook specifically addresses school based peace building initiatives.  It cites specific examples of peace focused curriculum and activities that help contribute to safe learning communities.

To access this document, please click here:
http://www.reddbarna.no/default.asp?HMFILE=130236

For access to the Global Report on the Evaluation of children’s participation in armed conflict, post conflict and peace building, please click here:
http://www.reddbarna.no/default.asp?HMFILE=130235

In the last decade, more than 2 million children have died as a direct result of armed conflict and more than three times that number have been permanently disabled or injured. Exposure to violence and chaos directly affects a child’s physical, intellectual and emotional growth, while also robbing them of an education.

From a recent UNICEF mail out, the continuing punishment of children in conflicts around the world cannot be ignored….

UNICEF partners with local communities to rehabilitate schools and rebuild a protective environment for children threatened by violence and war. UNICEF is so trusted that it has been able to negotiate cease-fire Days of Tranquility and Corridors of Peace in a number of ongoing conflict areas in order to immunize millions of children against killer diseases. In Darfur, UNICEF immunized 1.3 million children and provided 98,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to fight malaria during such cease-fires. To learn more about the conflict in Darfur, please click here.

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