In just 6 years, Education Cannot Wait has reached 6.9 million crisis-affected girls and boys with inclusive quality education.

© Save the Children/Dereje

Hanifa's Story

Remedial Classes Provide a Lifeline for 15‑year‑old Hanifa in Ethiopia

They lost everything, including their home.

"I have witnessed the horror of conflict. When the conflict broke out in our neighbourhood, we ran into bushes to save our lives. That moment was very difficult for my family. My mother was very ill and had a miscarriage. At one time, we were all thirsty and forced to drink dirty water. I believe conflict should be avoided under any circumstances because it only results in destruction."

Three years ago, 14-year-old Hanifa came to Ethiopia after her family was displaced. Now, with her parents and seven siblings, Hanifa lives at a site for internally displaced people near her school in Moyale Woreda. She fell behind in her schooling. In Ethiopia every 8th grader is required to take national level examinations, and Hanifa was far from ready. But remedial classes after school have been a lifeline.

"I like going to school because I want to acquire knowledge so I can live a good life. Both of my parents went to school and understand the benefits of education very well. They encourage me to focus on my education."

Through alternative learning approaches, ECW's support ensures continuity of learning, especially for girls and responds to the specific needs of girls. These remedial classes address the needs of students who missed school, slow-paced learners, and those who struggle with academic performance, enabling them to get back on track and to achieve success.

Another critical part of ECW's Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP), is the establishment of a health-promoting learning environment, providing essential services such as sanitation and hygiene and menstrual health management (MHM). Hanifa could not safely manage her period, so she stayed away from school. She had to take even more remedial classes to catch up.

"Last year, when my period suddenly came while in class, I panicked and went home. I stayed home for more than a month because I felt humiliated. My mother advised me not to feel ashamed about it as it is a natural thing for any adolescent girl."

Hanifa standing outside next to a building

© Save the Children/Dereje

MHM in schools improves the learning environment for girls. ECW grantees have distributed menstrual hygiene management kits. Hanifa now has the knowledge to confidently manage her menstruation hygienically and with dignity. Since she returned to school, her attendance and performance have improved. Hanifa's dream is to become a water engineer to solve the water shortage in her community. The programme aims to improve learning through equitable access, crisis-sensitive, and quality education for emergency-affected children, especially girls and children living with disabilities.

Contributed by Save the Children Ethiopia

© Building Foundation for Development

Radia's Story

Building Back Better in Yemen

Ibraham lives in one of the most dangerous places on earth. He is a teacher in Yemen, a country where students, teachers and schools have frequently come under attack and school attendance and education quality have declined. Yet, Ibraham has been relentless in ensuring that the right to education is a reality for children.

“Teaching is the only reason why I get out of bed in the morning, my only inspiration for my country and the internally displaced students of Alluheyah District,” said Ibraham.

He is 42-years old and works as a public school principal at the Al Wifaq School, which is located at the internally displaced hosting site in Yemen's Al Hudaydah Governorate on the western coast. Five years of a brutal war have left the education sector in a crisis. Nearly two-thirds of teachers haven't been paid their salaries in over 50 months, putting the education of over four million children on the line,” according to recent reports from UNICEF.

Ibraham and his colleagues tried to find solutions to providing new learning opportunities for their students in ramshackle, temporary learning spaces and bombed-out buildings.

"Working under these circumstances, with no classrooms, furniture and educational materials makes me depressed at times. Furthermore, as the temperature rises in the summer, many students miss school, and the handful who remain become ill as a result of sitting on the ground all day in those hovels," said Ibraham.

To give the children of Alluheyah District access to a quality education, ECW partnered with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and local partners such as the Building Foundation for Development. Schools were rehabilitated, temporary learning spaces were established as well as water and sanitation facilities that are key in the prevention of COVID-19. Teachers received stipends and teachers' kits, and the impact of war on children and youth was eased by a safe and protective learning environment. Increased protection measures mitigate the long-term impacts of the war.

Ibraham is elated. He sees a future with immense possibilities and so does — old Radia whose family fled to Alluheyah at the onset of the war.

"Now, praise to God, they built a school for us, with chairs, fans, blackboards and bathrooms. They provided me with a wonderful kit that contained all the school supplies. It contained soap, toothpaste, nail clippers, colours and drawing books. Thanks to those who provided us with these things. I am overjoyed."

Over 4,000 IDP and host community students and education staff in Al Qanawis and Alluheyah Districts have benefitted from this support.

Contributed by the Norwegian Refugee Council

Radia jumping rope outside with her classmates

© Building Foundation for Development

© Irene Galera/JRS Chad

Kaikai and Hadiza

Safeguarding Menstrual Health With Dignity in Chad

"I didn't know that it was possible to go to school during my period," says 14-year-old Kaikai.

Kaikai and adolescent girls across the Lake Chad and Logone Oriental regions of Chad are no longer missing school on the days they have their period. A new initiative is equipping young women in the country with the knowledge and resources to manage their menses and personal hygiene with confidence. Their lives are being transformed, knowing that they can learn and take care of their health without experiencing shame, discomfort, and stress and even dropping out of school.

Since 2021, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Chad in partnership with ACRA, Cellule de Liaison des Associations Feminines (CELIAF) and support from UNICEF, has participated in the production of Menstrual Health Management (MHM) kits. This is a local initiative where the kits are manufactured by the Tchad Helping Hand Foundation with funding from ECW.

More than 6,000 refugee and internally displaced students attending the local schools are now receiving these services. These gender-responsive strategies are reducing girls' absenteeism and drop-out in a region where as many as 1 in 10 girls misses school during their menstrual cycle, according to UNESCO. The MHM training has improved the quality of the learning environment for girls.

“When girls have their period, they feel ashamed to go to school. The JRS MHM kit helped me a lot in my daily life. And I learned during the training how to use the sanitary pads and protect myself. I love reading and writing at school, I learn a lot of things. In the future I want to become a teacher,” says 14-year-old Hadiza.

Kaikia sitting at her desk with her two friends smiling at the camera

© Irene Galera/JRS Chad

Teachers also have a crucial role in supporting girls to feel empowered to safely manage their menstruation with dignity. JRS has held MHM training for teachers as well as awareness-raising activities within schools and communities to combat the stigma around menstruation. After he attended the JRS training, Teacher Souhadi felt better prepared to talk to his students.

"The JRS MHM training was very rich and beneficial for all teachers. We learned to find the correct words to reassure girls on what is happening to them," he says.

Contributed by the Jesuit Refugee Service

© UNICEF/Dadoul

Rafat's Story

Inclusive Education
In Syria

At an ECW-supported learning centre in a refugee camp in Idlib, Syria, Maysa has a big smile on her face as she watches her son Rafat complete a school assignment. Over the past year, 9-year-old Rafat has finally learnt to read and write. It has been a long road for Rafat who has a severe visual impairment.

"On my first day of school, violence forced it to close," says Rafat. Maysa explains how the family has had to endure frequent displacements for the past three years.

"After fleeing our home village, we suffered greatly until we found a safe place to live. My four children, between 3 and 14, were unable to enroll in school for almost two years since there was no school nearby."

However, in September 2020 when a new learning centre opened in their camp, Maysa immediately registered her school-age children. Initially, Rafat refused to go to school. He was so traumatized by the constant bullying from his classmates in the past.

The learning centre gave Rafat an equal opportunity to realize his full potential. For far too many children with disabilities, especially in wartime, exclusion is a lost opportunity. Through the established referral mechanisms at the learning centre, Rafat was connected to an eye doctor for examinations and other services. ECW also ensured that he was provided with eyeglasses. Furthermore, Rafat benefited from psychosocial support activities as well as support from his teachers.

“Even though he is nine, we had no choice but to enroll him in the beginner level class. I've worked hard with him to overcome his vision problem by letting him sit in front of the board, encouraging him to do his best and motivating his classmates to support him,” says Teacher Ali.

Every day, Rafat cannot wait to get to school.

"I was unable to attend school for nearly two years due to my family being displaced. Now, I am able to attend and learn from my Arabic teacher, Mr. Ahmed. I love Mr. Ahmed and interacting with my sister and friends in class. My teachers taught me to read and write in a way that was easy for me," says Rafat.

Rafat writing on the whiteboard in his classroom

© UNICEF/Dadoul

Rafat completed two cycles of non-formal education over the past year. In September 2021, he began his third cycle. Inclusive and accessible facilities like the learning centre help to dismantle discriminatory attitudes against children with disabilities.

Contributed by UNICEF Syria

© Save the Children/Daniel Danis

Lona's Story

A School of Their Own for Children in South Sudan

The dilapidated classrooms were roofed with old, tattered plastic sheets and the wooden walls were consumed by termites. This was the condition of the Rock of Ages Nursery and Primary Adventist School. Since it was established in 2013, the school had no permanent structure for nearly 500 children. Moreover, the children were at the mercy of thunderstorms, intolerable heat and hot winds.

"I used to fear to come to school when it rains. Sometimes I miss classes," says 15-year-old Lona, a Primary 7 student.

When it rained early in the morning, most of the children would stay at home, impacting school attendance and the quality of learning. It reminded the headteacher of the old days when the students would sit under the trees to learn.

"During sunshine and rains, our lessons are completely disrupted. If it rains, both teachers and pupils would run to nearby homes for cover," says Otim Robert William.

Worse still, the school had no water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Consequently, the children and the teachers resorted to open defecation. Outbreaks of waterborne diseases were common and girls were constantly at risk of sexual violence.

Through ECW's Multi-Year Resilience Programme, Save the Children is leading the partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Finn Church Aid (FCA), to rehabilitate the school and to leave no child behind. With assistance from ECW, the dedicated Parent-Teacher Association constructed a one-block three classrooms facility and latrine; and Plan International supported an additional temporary learning structure. Plan International and AVSI also provided hygiene kits such as handwashing containers and soap to improve sanitation and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This multi-sectoral approach to school health plays an important role in providing a safe and gender-sensitive learning environment, protecting girls from physical, psychological and sexual violence.

"Since our classroom was constructed, I stay in school the whole day without any worry about sunshine or rain. I also don't have to go to the bushes anymore because there are bad people there. I now use the ladies toilet and when I finish I just wash my hands with containers of water and soap near here," says Lona.

Contributed by Daniel Danis and Save the Children

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