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UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

'Beyond School Books’ – a podcast series on education in emergencies: Segment #2

© UNICEF/2007/Galanek
‘Beyond School Books’ series moderator Amy Costello and former child soldier Ishmael Beah in the UN radio studios for their podcast discussion.

Podcast #2: The War’s Over, Now Where’s Your Homework? Click here to listen to a discussion about child soldiers and education in the context of humanitarian aid delivery to conflict and post-crisis countries, featuring these guests:

Ishmael Beah, youth activist and author of the best-seller, ‘A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier’; Nicholas Kristof, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and columnist for The New York Times; and Dyan Mazurana, Director of Gender, Youth and Community, Feinstein International Famine Center, Tufts University.

NEW YORK, USA, 29 October 2007 – In countries emerging from conflict, getting children into school is the first and most critical challenge for international development agencies, governments and communities.

Yet for young people who have experienced war, child soldiers and others directly affected by conflict, education is an essential part of the recovery and healing process.

Long-term states of emergency

“Coming from a place where as a young child I’d lost everything that’s dear to me – family, home – having an education is absolutely important,” Ishmael Beah said during his recent podcast discussion with Nicholas Kristof and Dyan Mazurana. “It is something that no one can take from me, something that’s mine. It’s very empowering for me,” he added.

© UNICEF/HQ06-0462/Furrer
A soldier stands guard at a rally to launch the ‘Go to School’ campaign in Juba, capital of Southern Sudan.

“What we have to recognize is that these conflicts are going on for decades, and they can be in a state of emergency for years and years and years. And children have a right to education. I see it as absolutely essential,” said Dr. Mazurana. “As UNICEF or other agencies would provide water, health care and sanitation, absolutely emergency education has to be right in there as part of that foundation.” 

“Frankly, from my perspective, one of the problems has been that the international community is sometimes willing to build schools or clinics, but it has much less stomach for actually trying to stop conflicts themselves,” said Mr. Kristof, referring to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

Using education to promote relief

Mr. Beah, Mr. Kristof and Dr. Mazurana made their comments in the second segment  of ‘Beyond School Books’, a series of discussions that are being recorded at the UN radio studios in New York and distributed online and through UNICEF Radio podcasts.

UNICEF has launched the series – hosted by Amy Costello, a former correspondent for Public Radio International – to help advance the discussion on the role of education in countries affected by conflict, natural disaster or emerging from crisis.

The discussions are part of renewed efforts by UNICEF and its partners to support education in emergencies and post-crisis transition countries. The predicament of children in these countries is the focus of an international collaboration using education to promote more efficient relief during and after emergencies – and to build back national systems better than before.

To post comments about the podcasts in this series, please go to the Podcast Alley UNICEF page and click on ‘Comment’.



‘Beyond School Books’ podcast series

Podcast #1: When Crises Strike Children. Moderator Amy Costello talks with guests Radhika Coomaraswamy and Gene Sperling about education as a human right and long-term development tool.
 AUDIO listen

Podcast #2: The War’s Over, Now Where’s Your Homework? Moderator Amy Costello talks with guests Ishmael Beah, Nicholas Kristof and Dyan Mazurana about child soldiers and education, in the context of humanitarian aid delivery to conflict and post-crisis countries.
AUDIO listen

'Beyond School Books'

The following stories are part of the 'Beyond School Books' series focusing on education during emergencies.

Each story features an audio interview with special guests. 

Segment #1: When Crises Strike Children

Segment #2: The War’s Over, Now Where’s Your Homework?

Segment #3: Education Under Attack

Segment #4: 'A World Fit for Children'

Segment #5: A Classroom Far from Home

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