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UN Body Supports Out-of-School Children In Burundi With $12m


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations (UN) global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, announced yesterday $12 million catalytic grant   to fund the roll out of the first Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Burundi.

This seed funding grant is coming as a response to interconnected crises that have left 1.9 million children and adolescents out of school in the East Central Africa country. 

Approximately 2.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Burundi today, with 700,000 in acute humanitarian need.  Following an era of instability, hundreds of thousands of Burundians are returning home. The influx of returnees is straining budgets and derailing efforts to provide universal, equitable access to education.

Notably, climate change is having a devastating impact on the people of Burundi. Schools have been destroyed by a rise in severe storms, populations have been displaced, and children and adolescents are at high risks of dropping out of school, child labor and exploitation, early marriage, gender-based violence and other violations of their human rights.

ECW supports quality education outcomes for refugee, internally displaced and other crisis-affected girls and boys, so no one is left behind. It works through the multilateral system to both increase the speed of responses in crises and connect immediate relief and longer-term interventions through multi-year programming.

Delivered in partnership with World Vision International and UNICEF, the three-year programme seeks to catalyze an additional US$18 million from public and private donors to reach 300,000 vulnerable children and adolescents impacted by the interconnected crises of COVID-19, climate change and conflict.

The ECW seed funding grant will reach more than 130,000 girls and boys, over half of whom are girls. In addition, the programme will reach returnee, internally displaced and other vulnerable children with access to pre-primary (10 percent), primary (70 percent) and secondary (20 percent) education.

It is also aimed at providing holistic education solutions, while also improving protection and well-being for vulnerable children and adolescents by removing the structural barriers that prevent them from accessing quality and equitable inclusive education. Key activities include the delivery of safe, protective and resilient learning spaces for children, and support to teachers so they can deliver quality learning outcomes as well as mental health and psychosocial support.

In responding to increasingly severe climate shocks, the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, the programme will develop schools’ and authorities’ institutional capacities to develop the plans, policies and coping mechanisms needed to build long-term resilience.

Director of ECW, Yasmine Sherif said the children and youth of Burundi deserve the safety, protection, hope and opportunity that quality education environments provide. This, according to her, is their inherent human right.

“By investing in education for every girl and boy in Burundi, we are investing in young people, their future, as well as in economic security, peace and sustainable development as the nation arises from the multiplying shocks of climate change, conflict, COVID-19, displacement and socio-economic instability”, she said.



Similarly, the Minister of National Education and Scientific Research of Burundi, Professor Francois Havyarimana noted that in Burundi the education sector is severely lacking in resources, adding that the government is however, committed to coordinating humanitarian initiatives to support its efforts to implement reforms in this sector with the objective of quality education for all.

“While these reforms have created enormous needs in terms of both human and financial resources, including a large number of teachers with a better capacity to respond to the increase in the number of learners and to changes in the curriculum, climate-induced disasters have repeatedly damaged educational facilities, worsening the situation”, he added.

The minister Burundi Government, through the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research, is honored to partner with ECW and its partners World Vision and UNICEF to ensure continuity of learning to Burundian children -in particular, the most vulnerable who are affected by recurrent humanitarian crises.

The UNICEF Representative, John Agbor said UNICEF is present in Burundi since 1967, accompanying the Government in the realization of every child’s rights, including the fundamental right to education, adding that notable progress has been made in basic social sectors, including education, especially in terms of enrolment rates and school attendance by girls. These positive results, according to him, are threatened by a multi-faceted crisis.

“Internal displacement, the effects of climate change, COVID-19 and other endemic diseases are negatively impacting the schooling of children. It is urgent to curb school interruptions, which are a source of dropout. This new multi-year programme will support learning continuity for all children in the target provinces.

“It will also reduce risks of exploitation and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable families – particularly girls and women – through capacity-building in negotiation, health and well-being management, and access to economic opportunities”, he stressed.

National Director of World Vision International Burundi, Marthe Mbengue observed that with the significant return of Burundian refugees and increased internal displacement due to natural disasters, schools and relocation sites hosting displaced children are experiencing excessive numbers, negatively impacting learning environment conditions.

The national director added that some locations are also affected by disasters exacerbated by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 and recurrent endemic diseases such as cholera and malaria.

“In a recent visit to World Vision International field operation areas in the country, I was able to speak with primary school children who shared their dreams of becoming doctors, military officers, presidents, teachers, businesswomen and more.

“This programme is timely in Burundi and will assist the most vulnerable children affected by displacement and in host communities to fulfill these dreams – strengthening the education system and environment at all levels and enhancing the resilience of families”, she further stated.


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