Education is a crucial part of any child’s life, but for children in emergencies, it becomes lifesaving. War, conflict and natural disasters have a devastating effect on children’s lives. Emergencies turn children’s lives upside down in an instant, often taking away their homes, family members, friends, safety and routine.
“Although it might not seem like the most obvious form of aid for children during an emergency, school is vital for children in these situations”
School gives children structure and normality throughout unusual circumstances, it provides a safe place where they can continue to develop and learn to safeguard their futures, and it helps children cope with the trauma they may have experienced. Most importantly it allows children to be children, to play and hope and socialise away from harm.
Eight-year-old Yasmin Akther and her family had to flee violence in Myanmar. They now live in a makeshift settlement for refugees in Bangladesh. The conditions in this camp are difficult for children like Yasmin. Families live in small hut-like shelters made from mud, wood and tarps, and in May of this year a devastating Cyclone (Mora) damaged much of the settlement, bringing with it torrential monsoon rain.
“UNICEF is always there to protect children from the dangers around them, and one of the ways we do so is by ensuring children affected by emergencies can and do return to school.”
Despite this, and the conditions children like Yasmin are forced to live in, they continue to attend the Prajapatti (Butterfly) UNICEF Learning Centre. Here they are sheltered from the harsh reality of their situation and have an outlet in which they can play and learn. Even in the face of adversity and disaster, children remain positive and you can see in their faces just how important and enjoyable being in school is.
In emergencies, UNICEF works quickly to set up temporary schools and child-friendly spaces so that children are protected and supported despite their circumstances, and they can continue to learn and play.
UNICEF and Education
Last year UNICEF supported 15.7 million children and over 330,000 classrooms with learning materials. We trained 39,000 school communities to make their schools healthier, better planned and managed, and more accessible to children with disabilities, and perhaps most importantly we reached 11.7 million children in humanitarian situations with educational support.