Children affected by conflict want to go back to school

From Ethiopia to Chad and Palestine, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN’s fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, is helping millions of boys and girls affected by conflict around the world to pursue their dreams.

ECW offers affected children and youth an opportunity to learn free of cost — in safety and without fear — to grow and reach their full potential.

Journey and a dream

At only nine years old, Bchiote Moorice and her three younger brothers fled war -torn Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) — without food, water or basic necessities.

After a harrowing escape, Bchiote and her siblings were reunited with their parents, and the entire family relocated to a refugee camp in western Ethiopia.

There, Bchiote and her brothers were finally able to focus on their education through an ECW funded program delivered by UNICEF Ethiopia.

“I hope to attend university one year from now and work in a big corporate bank,” she said with a big smile.

Hadjé, Achta and Ngoleram sit under a tree in Chad, enjoying the shade and the fresh air from the lake. | Photograph courtesy of UNICEF Chad

Determination for education

Launched to transform an aid system that neglects millions of the most vulnerable children and adolescents, ECW has been able to help many boys and girls like Bchiote.

Shahd (not her real name), like many 11-year-olds her age, has big dreams. She wants to become president, or a doctor, or even the first female Palestinian astronaut.

But, forced to spend most days receiving treatment at the Augusta Victoria Hospital, her chronic kidney illness loomed over her like a dark rain cloud.

However, Shahd has been able to continue her education at the Determination School — moving ever closer to turning her dreams into reality.

ECW funding has enabled the Palestinian Education Ministry to establish four Determination Schools, which provide flexible education to children unable to participate in regular classes because of chronic illnesses and long-term treatment.

Some 150 students in Palestine are currently being provided with individualized plans, psychosocial support, and inclusive education to ensure they are not left behind in their studies.

“I would rather go to regular school with other children, but the teachers and nurses at the hospital are very kind, and they make it okay,” Shahd said.

At nine, Bchiote Moorice fled embattled Democratic Republic of the Congo for her safety. | Photograph courtesy of UNICEF Ethiopia

Perseverance, friendship, potential

On the last day of school before vacation, three inseparable friends in Chad share a bond of displacement and resilience.

Hadje Al-Hadj, Achta Dogo, and Ngoleram Abakar attend the Kaya Primary School in the Lac Province of Chad, and live on a site for those displaced by the ongoing violence in the Lake Chad Region.

It was created in 2015 following attacks from the Boko Haram terrorist group. Recurrent violence and threats have forced more than 450,000 internally displaced persons and refugees to the Lac Province.

Hadje was just five years old when her family moved there from a neighboring country. Now 11, through the program, she has been able to focus on her education and thrive alongside the 500 other students from the Kaya site.

These and other youngsters at the Kaya Primary School in the Lac Province have been able to access safe, quality learning environments — keeping their dreams and futures alive.

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