Half of out-of-school children live in countries most vulnerable to climate change, with the Philippines the latest to close schools due to extreme weather.

by MMC
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Around one in two out-of-school children and adolescents live in countries on the front lines of the climate crisis, according to a new analysis from Save the Children. These figures come as extreme heat forced hundreds of schools to close this week in the Philippines (1), while in South Sudan, students have only just returned to school after two weeks of school closures. schools caused by the heatwave, which affected tens of thousands of students. children.

For this analysis, Save the Children looked at how many of the world’s estimated 250 million children and adolescents not in primary or secondary education (aged 5 to 19) live in places most vulnerable to change climatic (2). We found that 50% of out-of-school children live in 36 countries that are most exposed to the negative effects of the climate crisis while being least able to adapt (3). However, these countries only represent around a quarter of school-age children.

Globally, the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change are those that are poorest or most fragile, where children were already more likely to be out of school for reasons such as conflict, poverty , disability and gender inequality. Climate change makes extreme weather events and natural disasters impacting education even more likely. Around 62 million children and adolescents in 27 countries have had their education disrupted by climate shocks since 2020 (4), which has had a significant long-term impact on learning, both due to closure of schools and increased heat waves (5).

In South Sudan, which experienced scorching temperatures of up to 45C as this year’s hot season hit much earlier than usual, the government ordered schools to close for two weeks. Temperatures in at least ten of the Philippines’ 17 regions are expected to reach or exceed 42°C this week, about 20% higher than usual in April.

Kelley Toole, Save the Children’s Acting Global Director for Child Poverty, Climate and Urbanization, said:

“The climate crisis is a children’s rights crisis and its effects on children’s right to learn are a cruel reminder of this. The climate emergency threatens children’s ability to access education and has potentially lifelong consequences for children who are once again forced to pay the price for a crisis for which they are least responsible.

If we do not act to protect education from the negative effects of climate change, the impact on the future of these children who already live in some of the countries with the highest out-of-school rates will only be more pronounced. We cannot let inequality grow upon inequality and injustice upon injustice. »

More than a billion children, about half of the world’s 2.2 billion children, live in countries highly susceptible to the effects of climate change – and in many cases already facing them.

Climate shocks and extreme weather such as cyclones, floods and fires often damage or destroy schools and can result in the displacement of school-aged children or force them into the workforce to support themselves. of their family. Girls are particularly affected because they are less likely to return to school after a disaster or climate shock.

As the world’s leading independent children’s rights organization, Save the Children works in 116 countries, tackling climate across everything it does, including education.

Save the Children is part of Building the Climate Resilience of Children and Communities through the Education Sector (BRACE), a green schools initiative that provides funding to help education systems in vulnerable countries build green and climate resilient schools, to integrate climate change into school. school programs and provide early climate warnings to schools. We are also part of the Climate Smart Education Systems initiative aimed at strengthening the resilience and relevance of education in the face of climate change and environmental degradation, while the comprehensive school safety framework, approved by more than 70 governments, is at the heart of our approach to tackling climate change and ensuring children have continued access to learning.

Save the Children is calling for a better understanding of the impact of climate change on education, a greater focus on education as part of climate action and more investment in climate and education globally, including in Africa, where the African Union has declared 2024 the Year of Education.

(2) Save the Children used UNESCO data on children out of school in primary and secondary education and compared it to each country’s climate change risk score in terms of their ability to improve resilience according to the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN). Index available for 181 countries. We divided countries into quintiles based on their level of climate risk, then calculated the number of out-of-school children in each risk group (quintile). South Sudan, which was not covered by ND-GAIN, was placed in our top quintile because it is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world, according to the UN.

(3) These countries are: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Chad, Rep. Central African Republic, DR Congo, Congo, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Micronesia, Guinea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kenya. , Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Myanmar, Mozambique, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Syria, Chad, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

(5) A study from Harvard University in the United States found that without air conditioning, every 1°F increase in school year temperature reduces the amount learned that year by one percent. https://apo-opa.co/3U5pWMN

Distributed by APO Group for Save the Children.

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