NEW YORK, 22 October 2007 – UNICEF launched today the first in a series of podcast discussions on education in emergencies and post-crisis transition countries, with the participation of leading figures from the academic, development, media and humanitarian communities.
Entitled 'Beyond School Books', the podcast series highlights the important role of education in countries affected by conflicts or natural disasters or those in post-crisis transition.
“Anyone who listens to these broadcasts will have a profound understanding of why education is so critical in emergency and post-crisis situations, and yet why it is so challenging to provide,” said Cream Wright, UNICEF’s Global Chief of Education.
Some of the thought-provoking questions that participants will debate include: What steps may be put into place, post-crisis, not only to provide education services to affected populations, but also to rebuild educational systems? What role can donors play in the face of low national capacity and a risky investment environment, if education is recognized as a vital component of emergency relief and post-crisis development? What are the psychosocial needs of children in post-conflict society and how may those needs be addressed in school? How can education help to rebuild hope for the children and youth who have lost out on schooling because of conflict? What are the ways in which education can hasten a return to normal development for countries affected by natural disasters and conflict? How can education help to predict and prevent conflict as well as to reduce the risks from natural disasters?
There has been growing recognition by the international community that education is an integral part of emergency relief efforts. In times of conflict or natural disasters, providing children with schooling not only safeguards their right to education, it can also provide a locus for them to receive essential health and nutrition services, as well as helping them regain a sense of routine and teaching them essential life skills.
In transition countries that have emerged from conflict, education can be a powerful tool for social transformation, rallying previously warring parties around the issue of safeguarding the rights and well-being of all children for a better future.
'Beyond School Books'is hosted by Amy Costello, a former correspondent for Public Radio International and an Emmy Award nominee for her coverage of Sudan. It is being taped at the United Nations Radio studios in New York and is available for downloading on the UNICEF website.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicts, and Gene Sperling, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, are the guests of the first podcast. Upcoming podcasts will feature The New York Times award-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, youth activist and best-selling author Ishmael Beah, and others.
About UNICEF UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.