We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.

UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

‘Beyond School Books’ – a podcast series on education in emergencies: Segment #3

© UNICEF/2004/Bonn
In the village of Panbarkou in Southern Sudan, the girls’ school is too small to accommodate all its students. About half of all classes in Southern Sudan take place outside.

Podcast #3: Education Under Attack – Voices from the Field. Click here to listen to a discussion about educating children in some of the world’s most challenging contexts, featuring these guests:

Sibeso Luswata, UNICEF Southern Sudan Chief of Education; Paul Martin, UNICEF Representative in Colombia; and Geeta Verma, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Iraq.

NEW YORK, USA, 16 November 2007 – Providing education to children in regions and societies affected by conflict – or emerging from it – is a major challenge.

Yet communities in conflict-affected areas consistently rank education as a high priority. And they demonstrate astounding resourcefulness and resilience in seeking out and providing schooling for their children.

Educating children in conflict zones

In Iraq, as in many other conflict zones, schools may be targets of violence and must operate in increasingly tense security situations.

© UNICEF/2007/Yeo
UNICEF Colombia Representative Paul Martin and UNICEF Iraq Deputy Representative Geeta Verma with podcast moderator Amy Costello at a discussion on education in conflict-affected countries.

“Examinations that took place recently saw, for the first time, a decline in the number of children who sat for the exam and, further, those who were able to pass,” said Geeta Verma, speaking of Iraq last week during a discussion about the role of education in countries affected by conflict or natural disaster. “The learning levels are going down rapidly, which means that the quality of education is in rapid decline,” she added.

“In Southern Sudan, you find that … the adult literacy rates are very low, the lowest in the world,” said Sibeso Luswata, noting the challenges of working in an area that recently emerged from conflict.

Paul Martin cited the difficulty of providing education to vulnerable and excluded children in middle-income countries such as Colombia – especially in remote areas. The problem is “particularly acute in Colombia because of the situation of violence, which is affecting large areas but not all of the country at once,” he said. “A lot of the problems in those isolated areas are quite similar to the things that have been described in Sudan and in Iraq.”

A tool for social transformation

Ms. Verma, Ms. Luswata and Mr. Martin made their comments in the third segment of ‘Beyond School Books’, a series of discussions that are 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 or 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’.




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

Podcast #3: Education Under Attack. Moderator Amy Costello talks with guests Sibeso Luswata, Paul Martin and Geeta Verma about the role of education in countries affected by conflict or emerging from it.
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

UNICEF radio

UNGEI website

The site of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative
UNGEI banner
New enhanced search