“Some refugees in my class have physical pain which doctors cannot heal” says Jenny, a teacher in a Welcome Class in Germany

I consider myself a migrant. I have lived abroad for 29 years. I now teach in “welcome classes” in Germany, which are set up to teach newly arrived students. At my school we have two welcome classes of 12 students aged 12 and 18. It varies from school to school, but a lot of schools have been obliged to have a welcome class – and at least in my school, it feels like being on an island within the school: our classes are quite isolated.

Some of my pupils are traumatized. Some pupils started telling me in the second lesson about the beatings they used to suffer in their classrooms when in Iraq or Syria. Some have experienced hunger, torture, detention. Some crossed the Mediterranean in small boats. Before coming here, they lived in camps in Greece, Italy or Spain.

In December 2016, a boy threatened to kill us all. This was on the morning of the terrorist attack in Berlin. He had been tortured when in Iraq and his anger was triggered whenever anyone spoke loudly. He said he would kill us all, starting with me. The police ended up taking him to different psychiatric services and charges were pressed against him. He insisted it had all been a joke and I begged our headmaster to let him stay. Nothing ever happened again, and he got top marks. He blossomed. I’m still in touch with him. He wants to be a mechanic.

Policy-makers need to understand much more therapy is needed – through sports, music and arts. Many children are blocked, they cannot speak, there are high levels of fear and aggression. Some miss school a lot because they are in physical or psychological pain which doctors cannot heal. Continue reading

Posted in immigrant, immigration, migrant, migration, Refugees and displaced people, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New paper: Teachers need support to better help migrant and refugee students suffering from trauma


Image: UNESCO/Seivan M.Salim

The number of migrant and refugee school-age children around the world has grown by 26% since 2000. Eight years on from the beginning of the Syrian conflict, a new paper released today and at an event in the Netherlands looks at the importance of making sure that education systems are set up to address the trauma that many of these children face before, and during their journeys to new countries. In particular, teachers need better training to provide psychosocial support to these children, including through social and emotional learning.

In Germany, about one-third of refugee children suffer from mental illness, and one-fifth suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Unaccompanied minors are particularly vulnerable. One third of 160 unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Norway from Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Somalia suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Among 166 unaccompanied refugee children and adolescents in Belgium, 37-47% had ‘severe or very severe’ symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Rates of trauma among the displaced in low and middle income countries are also high. For instance, 75% of 331 internally displaced children in camps in southern Darfur in Sudan met diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, and 38% had depression. Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, immigrant, immigration, migrant, migration, refugees, Refugees and displaced people, Teachers, teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If comprehensive sexuality education can happen in Pakistan, it can happen everywhere.”

By Aisha Ijaz, Aahung, Pakistan

I work on reproductive health for an organization called Aahung in Pakistan. For over 20 years now, we have been developing and advocating around comprehensive sexuality education, or, as it is called here, Life Skills Based Education (LSBE).

In 2018, the Sindh province in Pakistan became the first to introduce LSBE content. And Balochistan is working on doing the same soon. This blog discusses the work it entailed over the past decade to get to this point in what is a conservative society. I describe the barriers we have come across along the way – some of which still remain for other provinces yet to be convinced on the issue.


Back in 1995, we were the first organization that not only worked exclusively on sexual and reproductive health in the country, but also with young people on the issue. We developed jargon round it in the local language – making sure there was accurate and appropriate terminology. We built teaching tools on LSBE, and we now work to build the capacity of teachers in schools, training them on our content. Continue reading

Posted in Gender, Sexual violence, sexuality education, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

#FaceTheFacts: It’s time to bust the myths on comprehensive sexuality education

Luciana Ianiri

Image: Luciana Ianiri

Comprehensive sexuality education is an essential part of a good quality education that improves sexual and reproductive health, argues Facing the Facts, our newest policy paper out today jointly with UNESCO. Released at the Women Deliver Conference during an event with Rt Hon. Helen Clark, the First Lady of Namibia and Vivian Onano, the paper explores the resistance to sexuality education in many countries and the obstacles to its implementation, seeking ways to overcome them.

Globally, each year, 15 million girls marry before the age of 18. Some 16 million girls age 15 to 19 and 1 million girls under 15 give birth. This not only spells the end of their education, but is often fatal; pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among young women.

Young people also account for a third of new HIV infections among adults and across 37 low- and middle-income countries, yet only approximately one third of 15 to 24 year olds have comprehensive knowledge of HIV prevention and transmission.

In the face of these facts, our new paper calls for children and young people to receive comprehensive sexuality education before they become sexually active. This helps them protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and promotes values of tolerance, mutual respect and non-violence in relationships. Continue reading

Posted in Gender, Health, HIV/AIDS, Reproductive health, sexuality education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Forgotten or ignored? Education gets no mention in the draft political statement for the UN High Level Political Forum

Zaatari Camp Jordan

UN Photo/Sahem Rababah

The zero draft of the political declaration of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), taking place this year under the auspices of the General Assembly, has been released ahead of a consultation among UN Member States in New York today. But it does not once mention education.

The draft mentions empowering girls; supporting the most vulnerable people; and reaching those furthest behind first, ‘freeing humanity from the tyranny of poverty’, committing to inclusive economic growth and helping children and youth reach their full human potential. But it fails to mention the role that education can play in driving this progress and making change possible. Why? Continue reading

Posted in Governance, Post-2015 development framework, sdg, sdgs, Sustainable development, Uncategorized, united nations | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The learning assessment market: pointers for countries – part 2

By Silvia Montoya, Director, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and Luis Crouch, Senior Economist, RTI International [1]

In a previous blog, we argued that the market for learning assessment is very inefficient and therefore warrants public action. As things stand:

  • More than half of countries do not participate in a cross-national assessment, makes it hard for them and for the international community to benchmark their progress towards the learning outcome indicators in SDG 4.
  • Countries that may want to participate in a cross-national assessment, and agencies that could cover the cost, both face obstacles standing in the way of effective and cost efficient solutions.

Today, we want to contribute further by proposing a series of possible solutions for five forms of inefficiency and the problem of inequity. While the solutions have different political and monetary costs, they are all relatively easy to adopt. And, in an ideal world they would all be carried out more or less simultaneously as they are all highly complementary with each other. Continue reading

Posted in Learning, Literacy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Aid to education falls slightly in 2017, shifts away from primary education

mathsIn 2017, aid to education totaled US$ 13.2 billion, down 2% or US$288 million compared to 2016. The figures analysed by our team show that the level of aid to education continue to stagnate, growing by only 1% per year on average since 2009. These figures raise questions about the global commitment to achieving SDG 4, the global education goal.

A drop in aid to education could be something to celebrate if it looked like it was due to governments needing less, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Governments in low income countries spend, on average, 16% of their budgets on education, far more than richer countries, and are off track meeting even the 2015 target of universal primary education.

There has been big talk about ambitions ever since 2015, when our new education agenda was set. However, efforts have focused on elaborating the financing architecture and not increasing the financing. A new multilateral mechanism, the International Financing Facility for Education, which aims to lower the cost of borrowing for education for middle income countries, is expected to be announced later this month. It adds to the Global Partnership for Education, which provides grants to low income countries, and the Education Cannot Wait fund, which focuses on emergency contexts. It seems that donors may be shifting money around, tinkering with different ways to spend a fixed sum, but not giving more. Continue reading

Posted in Aid, Finance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments