Uganda to Benefit from UK’s $6.6m Aid to Help Educate Refugee Children

South Sudanese refugee children learning in a makeshift structure in a refugee settlement in Uganda (Photo: UNHCR)

Uganda is among ten countries that will benefit from over £5m (USD 6.6m) in aid announced by U.K this week to support refugee children and teachers.

The £5.3 million (Shs 24bn) of UK aid will allow UNHCR to make direct payments to 5,669 teachers in 10 refugee-hosting countries for 7 months where urgent support is needed. 

The countries are: Chad, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Yemen.

Of the world’s 26 million refugees, around half are under the age of 18. Even before COVID-19 struck, refugee children were twice as likely to be out of school than other children, with fewer than 1 in 4 refugee children enrolled in secondary education

The UK’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education, Baroness Sugg, asked other players in the international community to step up.

American actress, Angelina Jolie, joined Baroness Sugg, to rally support for refugee children not to be forgotten in the global coronavirus recovery, at a high-level virtual event on refugee education.

Baroness Sugg said the new UK aid will support the salaries of more than 5,500 teachers in 10 of the world’s poorest refugee-hosting countries, including Chad, South Sudan and Yemen.

She urged the international community to protect the futures of the world’s most vulnerable children both during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, said: “For millions of children and youth, schools are a lifeline of opportunity as well as a shield. Classrooms offer protection — or at least a reprieve — from violence, exploitation and other difficult circumstances.”

“Without urgent practical assistance, some of the children left without schooling worldwide due to the coronavirus may never set foot in a classroom again. We must find ways to try to ensure access to continuity of education for young people across the world,” the Hollywood film star added.

“Ensuring education for refugee children is something we can make happen, if we all come together.”

The UK government says ensuring that children are not affected long-term by the interruption to their education during coronavirus is a priority in the UK and around the world.

As the pandemic puts developing countries under increasing economic stress and limited resources are diverted to the health sector, there is a risk children will go uneducated as teachers go unpaid.

Without action, millions of children may be left without a school to attend in the aftermath of coronavirus, potentially undermining education systems in fragile and developing countries for a generation.

UK’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education, said: “Education must be prioritised in the global recovery from coronavirus. This epidemic is not just a health crisis, it is an education crisis, especially for refugee children.  Without school and an education they will be unable to rebuild their lives and achieve their full potential”.

“Supporting every child’s right to 12 years of quality education is one of the best investments the UK can make to end the cycle of displacement, poverty and conflict, as we recover from coronavirus. We urge our partners to match our ambition.”

The UK support will help at least 300,000 vulnerable refugee children to continue their education.

In addition to the latest support, the UK has previously announced £15 million of crisis funding from the aid budget to UNICEF and £5 million to Education Cannot Wait, for hand washing supplies, remote lessons and protection services to support the world’s most vulnerable children during the pandemic.

Before coronavirus, 260 million children were out of school worldwide. Now, 1.5 billion children in over 150 countries are out of school.

For every additional year a child goes to school, their future earnings can increase by 20%. Unleashing that potential, by protecting education through the crisis, will be essential to preventing the collapse of economies in the poorest countries deepening a global recession, making it harder for all of us to bounce back.

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