Education and Conflict -some stories

We hear about the effects of conflict on education when ‘news worthy’ items catch our attention – the taking of more than 200 girls in Northern Nigeria and the shooting of Malala in Pakistan, for example. They do wake us up , but are then too quickly forgotten. So it is important to consider not only the impact of conflict but the possibilities for reducing the impact.

Items provided by INEE newsletter

Consider the wider effects of Boko Haram in the countries surrounding Nigeria, for example:

The Impact of Boko Haram and Armed Conflict on Schooling in Cameroon’s Far North
In December 2014, UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic Education(MINEDUB), carried out a rapid assessment in the 4 departments most affected by the insurgency of Boko Haram in the region of the Far North. The assessmentThe Impact of Boko Haram and Armed Conflict on Schooling in Cameroon’s Far North aims to provide education sector actors and stakeholders with accurate, reliable data on the impact of Boko Haram and the armed conflict on schooling and internal displacement, facilitating a more informed, coordinated sectoral response.

Download the full Impact of Boko Haram and Armed Conflict on Schooling in Cameroon’s Far North report.

and news about providing safe spaces for children:
Video: Caught in the Crossfire: Providing Education during Conflict Videos
INEE and The American Red Cross

On March 5th, the American Red Cross and INEE hosted an expert

presentation and panel on ensuring the existence of a safe space for education during conflict. The event clarified how compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL) enables a safe space for education during conflict, as well as presents on what education can do to provide stability to a community disrupted by conflict.

now available.

Access the full conference video, here.
Access the extended interview with INEE Director, Dean Brooks, here.

International Women’s Day 2015 – what’s happening?

International Women’s Day 2015 Theme:


All around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for the global hub, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women.

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.


This Day aims to highlight the importance of creating conditions for the elimination of discrimination against women and for their full and equal participation in social development.

If these are some of the aims  – we really need to look towards education in its boradest sense to make any headway. At present it seems we are just trying to catch up – to close the gender gap that exists. But what about looking to the future? Starting with parents who are just having children and already discriminating between the girl and boy child.Look at the toys that are on offer in the ‘Western’ world – there seems to be a stronger push towards pink for girls and blue for boys along with the difference between ‘home’ toys and guns and war toys. And when they start school – there is still an achievement gap in many countries between boys and girls and of course, if you poor and a girl, then the odds stack up against you. Even in the UK when I was teaching, parents of girls would often state, when their daughter had not done so well in maths,  -‘leave that to the boys, they are better at maths!’ With that self fulfilling prophecy the boys tended to do better, but it was not just to do with innate ability -girls were not trying!

So on this International Women’s Day -think about the future of women and start with educating  the youngest.

Women Deliver ” 15 Journalists, 15 Voices for Girls & Women – Each year, Women Deliver celebrates International Women’s Day by honoring people, organizations and innovations that are delivering for girls and women. This year, we are excited to celebrate 15 journalists from around the world who are advocating for and advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights. More 


When we talk about ‘making it happen’
Here is some celebratory news about girls in Malawi who are really making it happen:

How girl activists helped to ban child marriage in Malawi

Malawi has raised the legal marrying age from 15 to 18.

Malawi’s Stop Child Marriage campaign was launched in 2011 by the Girls Empowerment Network and Let Girls Lead on the principle of empowering girls to fight for their own rights. We trained over 200 girls in the Chiradzulo District of southern Malawi to become advocates. The girls lobbied 60 village chiefs to ratify and enact by-laws that protect adolescent girls from early marriage and harmful sexual initiation practices. These bylaws force men who marry girls under the age of 21 to give up their land in the village and pay a fee of seven goats, a major economic penalty in the region.

Overcoming deeply held cultural beliefs and traditions will not be easy, especially in outlying rural districts impenetrable by communications from the capital. Local, on the ground education campaigns will be key to disseminating information about the new law and building broad-based support for girls’ rights. In addition, while the new law and penal code mandate a minimum age of 18 for marriage, girls as young as 16 can still marry with parental consent. Civil society leaders are pushing for the removal of this loophole, arguing that “parental consent” is too often easily obtained when poor families have too many daughters to feed.

Yet even with these limitations, the new law does provide girls with a voice and power – tangible leverage that girls and advocates alike can use to resist child marriage. The new law also gives sharper teeth to watchdog efforts, enforcement, and the rescue of child brides. In March, advocates from around the world will converge in New York during the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Civil society leaders will celebrate Malawi’s landmark victory for girls, and call upon global decision makers to prioritise girls’ health and education in the post-2015 development process.

One of these powerful advocates is Memory Banda, an 18-year-old Malawian girl. When her younger sister was married aged 11 to a man in his early thirties, Memory promised herself that she would fight for girls’ rights. She went on to finish school and help lead the campaign to pass Malawi’s new law to end child marriage. Memory’s sister, on the other hand, is now 16 years old and has three children.

Memory will raise her voice at the UN to advocate for girls like her sister and for the 70 million more girls around the world who were married as children. “My hope is that global leaders will understand that we girls are powerful leaders of change,” she says. “Marriage is often the end for girls like me. But if our leaders will invest in us and give us the chance to be educated, we will become women who create a better society for everyone.”

Denise Dunning is the executive director and founder of Let Girls Lead and Joyce Mkandawire is co-founder of Genet. (Published in the Guardian).

For further information about plans for International Women’s Day each year, visit the UN International Women’s Day web pages or the separate International Women’s Day website.

Some other groups who are celebrating International Women’s Day:

Conciliation Resources




Cultural Survival


From March 9 to 20, 2015, thousands of women will be meeting in New York City for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) at the United Nations. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and non-governmental organizations will be gathering to evaluate the progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was originally adopted 20 years ago in 1995.

and Camfed

Check out Doreen the film maker:

My name is Ester Mwaba – a proud Zambian girl!

The following post followed a workshop on the Escuela Nueva model in Zambia.


My name is Ester Mwaba – a proud Zambian girl


Literacy and Book Making

The challenges for learning  in Muchinga province, Zambia are great!

If we take literacy, for example, many students cannot read some sentences in English at grade 7 , yet they have to take their primary leaving exam in English (at grade 7).

Although new Zambian government policy ensures that students can learn in their local language (Bemba, here in Muchinga) until grade 4, they still have to continue learning in a second language, English, even though some of their teachers may not be competent in English. Many homes do not have electricity, so do not have TV where they could at least be exposed to some English language programmes.

During the recent Escuela Nueva workshops  teachers were encouraged to make simple books for their ‘classroom library’  – just two weeks later and Ester was one of the students who caught the book making bug from her teacher. Let’s consider some of the steps they took to get this far.

Teachers were creative, once some simple examples were presented in the workshop ‘class library’:


One teacher was particularly creative in producing an ‘active’ book for use by pairs of students:


This book helps children to practice new words – one child will ask a question -“What is this?” the other child may answer “basket’ – who tries to write the word – they can then pull out the answer and check the spelling. It seems simple, but when you have over 100 children in a class, any activities which are more child centred are very welcome.

classLib2                                                bookmaking2

Following a few days of making some books – the three workshop ‘classes’ presented examples of their work in an ‘exhibition’.


The Book Exhibition

Some examples of other books made by participants:

book HIV

A book about the dangers of HIV/AIDS –  a disease that is well known in most villages -resulting in many orphans.


A book about “My School”



Making a science book.


Making the ‘My village’ book


Presenting the results of book making


wordlist forest concept2

Students often come to a paragraph or short story with little knowledge of the key words  – they often get stuck, while reading a sentence by an unknown word.

Thus they rarely gain fluency in reading and therefore find the sentence ‘meaningless’.

This book listed new words and then developed the meaning of these key words through drawings and explanations.

At the end of the book is the story – now students can read fluently as they already know all the main words and their meanings.



Activity books were particularly popular as they can be used with pairs and small groups without the intervention of the teacher -therefore they are ‘self directed’ books.


activitybook3house questionbook

Teachers had many ideas about making activity books which could be used by students working in pairs or threes.

A simple flap , once opened can reveal answers to questions that students will ask their group members.

copperativegroupbook treeactivity2 activitybooktree




Pop up books added variation and interest in book making:


popup3 popupcomm


When the stapler got stuck – we looked round for alternative bindings -anything from small sticks, to palm leaves and some even took up sewing!

palmbind2 palmforbinding


protectenv2cover st palmbind


protecttheenvironment  Another proud book maker


envcoverNew A4envbook A4env3

A ‘one sheet’ book – it folds out when you open it


A fold -out book about colours:

colour book



Small is beautiful……


A small book about George the tadpole…….

george1tadpole george2 george3 george4


Following the workshops, teachers immediately got to work -preparing some books to inspire the students..and helping students to make their own books.

This part of the teachers’ workshop showed immediate outcomes -just one week later…..


This is Boston -he tore the corner from his exercise book and created his own dictionary of English words!

Groups worked cooperatively -some planning, some thinking, some writing , some drawing – then putting together their own book.

Pictured below -proud book makers!

bookmakingschool bookpride bookpride2 bookmakers5 bookmakers6 bookmake7


Proudly reading her book to the rest of the class.


And in another school:

From no books …….to our own books and our own library, in just one week!


DSCN7969 DSCN7971 DSCN7974

Grandfather loves to dance…..



and this is the teacher who inspired and encouraged them…


and more activity books….

workbook3 workbook2 workbook1


A seed identification book.


In April there will be a second workshop in Muchinga Province -we look forward to hearing how well the teachers and students have been doing during these last few months.

More on the Post – 2015 Education Agenda

Applying the Right to Education to the Post-2015 Education Agenda 
Delphine Dorsi, Right to Education Project

The Right to Education Project has just published a paper titled Applying Right to Education Indicators to the Post-2015 Education Agenda. This paper is our contribution to the on-going discussions to agree the formulation of the post-2015 education goal and targets, and to identify appropriate indicators to measure progress towards them.

The paper argues that the post-2015 education agenda should incorporate a human rights perspective. We warn that the goal and targets that States will politically commit to should not undermine their existing legal commitments to realise the right to education under international human rights law. To clarify the link between the post-2015 agenda and the right to education, the paper indicates the relevant treaties and specific provisions that apply for each target, explaining the different types of States’ obligations.

To read the full blog post, click here.

To download the full paper, click here.

A world at school – but what about quality?

A World at School


Countries are dangerously far off track. Only TWO countries out of the 29 with half a million or more out-of-school children are close to getting every girl and boy into school by the end of the year, and only with support, according to a shocking new report by the global education initiative A World at School. With only nine months to go before the deadline set by the United Nations, urgent action is now needed to develop strong strategies and increase spending on education.

To download the full report, click here.


Of course we should be concerned about the number of children not accessing education – but what happens when they get to school? What happens to girls who are abused/threatened as they walk to school? What happens to the limited learning that may go on when they arrive at school?

Access without quality is still the major concern for educators. We can get people on the moon, we can design powerful weapons but we cannot offer all our children opportunities to learn cooperatively with others.

If is just access that is the problem – what are we doing to solve the underlying issues that prevent many children from attending school  -poverty and discrimination, just to mention two.

And when they arrive in school  – what are we doing to ensure that children are learning what is relevant and appropriate and allows them some dignity when they do not ‘perform’?

We still look at schooling as education -there is far more to education for the future than just getting children into school.

Education crisis? What crisis? It should not be just about getting more into school…..

Video: Drawing a Solution to the World’s Learning Crisis

121 million children and adolescents are out of school around the world. How can we change this picture? Watch this unique video produced by UNICEF to learn of possible solutions.

To watch the full video, click here.