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Five things you need to know this week about global education (February 04, 2022)

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Major funding will help girls get educated in rural Afghanistan - plus the tale of an eight-year-old schoolboy who wrote a book and became a library hit.

Community classes for rural Afghan children

Major funding will ensure more than 260,000 Afghan children - 60% of them girls - can attend community-based education classes in rural areas.

Grants from the Asian Development Bank will ensure people have sufficient food and help to sustain health and education services.

The funding will enable UNICEF to strengthen 10,000 community-based education classes. They use the same curriculum as public schools but are financed by development partners and supervised by village leaders.

The UN agency will also provide professional development programmes to 10,000 community-based education teachers and promote the development of female secondary school teachers. Stationary, textbooks and other learning materials will be provided to 785,000 public school first-graders.

The Adventure of Dillon’s library book

An American schoolboy who wrote a book and snuck it on to the shelves of his local library has been making headlines, after his story became a big hit and is inspiring other children to write their own.

Eight-year-old Dillon Helbig, a second-grader from Boise, Idaho, wrote and illustrated all 81 pages in The Adventures of Dillon's Crismis. On a visit to the library with his grandmother, he put it next to other books.

Manager Alex Hartman found the book, read it to his own child and then added it to the official list of books in the collection. There’s currently a long waiting list for it. Alex said: “It deserves a spot on our library shelves. It’s a good story.”

When local media reported the story, Dillon’s classmates said they wanted to write their own books. He added: “They said it was really cool.”

Lebanon crisis kills education hopes

Lebanon’s economic crisis is forcing more young people to drop out of education and take on ill-paid, irregular and informal work just to survive and help feed their families, according to a UNICEF report.

School enrolment dropped from 60% in 2020-2021 to 43% in the current academic year - and 31% of young people are not in any kind of education, employment or training.

The report said 13% of families sent children under 18 to work as a coping strategy. It warned this could rise if the country's economic situation gets worse.

“Young people in Lebanon urgently need support. Investments are needed to ensure financial concerns do not prevent them from getting the education and skills they need to eventually find decent work and contribute to the stability and prosperity of Lebanon,” said Ettie Higgins of UNICEF Lebanon.

School meals boost for Libyan students

Thousands of children in rural areas of Libya will be more likely to stay in education and better prepared to learn thanks to a project to provide them with nutritious school meals.

The World Food Programme is working with the education ministry to support a centralised kitchen in Benghazi that will use local products and hire young people from the community.

“This is a milestone for children who live in the most rural parts of Libya. An investment in school feeding is an investment in the health, education and future of a child as well as the future of the nation,” said Rawad Halabi, WFP Representative and Country Director in Libya.

For local communities, smallholder farmers and traders, the project will generate income at a time when Libya is suffering the economic impact of the pandemic.

Teacher vaccination rates vary widely

Portugal, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates are among countries where 100% of school teachers are fully vaccinated, new data shows.

But the rates in Algeria and Venezuela were only 9% and 12% in September 2021, according to a joint project by UNESCO and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030. They regard fully vaccinated as having had one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or two doses of any other.

Not surprisingly, high-income countries tend to have the highest proportions of fully-vaccinated teachers, including 98% in Chile, 97% in Sweden and 96% in Saudi Arabia. Some middle and low-income countries that put teachers in the first priority group for vaccines also have high figures, such as 99% in Morocco and 95% in Cambodia.

However, data shows that only 19 countries did that. Teachers were not allocated to any priority group in 29% of countries - including almost half of sub-Saharan African nations.