Despite challenges, UNICEF and partners are supporting children back to learning
As a result of the conflict in northern Ethiopia, over 6,000 schools have been completely or partially damaged and looted – a grave violation of children’s rights.
As a result of all these deplorable acts, over 2.8 million children missed out on an education last year in Afar, Amhara and Tigray. But things are changing. Despite all the damage, some schools are reopening and UNICEF and partners are getting children back to where they belong – the classroom. After ensuring the school was cleared of mines, Mengi Primary School in Tigray reopened its doors to children in October 2021.
Upon returning to school, 14-year-old Zufan said: “During the fighting I was so scared and stressed. It was awful and I still have nightmares. But now, I am back in school with my friends. I am so happy to be learning especially maths, which is my favorite subject.”
Zufan is one of around 400 students that this school is catering for. Before the conflict, there were 800 students enrolled in the school but due to the damage, lack of supplies and cash to pay teachers’ salaries, only half of the students from Grade 6 to 7 are able to return.
13-year-old Gebrearegay’s favorite subject is science. “It’s an easy subject for me and I am happy to be in class,” he said with a big smile. “When I grow up, I want to be a teacher and help the younger generation, so they feel hope for their future.”
Deputy Principal, Tseruy Kahsay said: “While the school is still damaged, the children are just so happy to be here. It fills my heart with joy to see children learning and playing again.”
Last year, in northern Ethiopia, UNICEF and partners reached around 200,000 children living in conflict with educational support and we are supporting the rehabilitation of schools, providing furniture and scholastic materials so that children no longer miss out on their right to an education.
UNICEF prioritizes the restoration of formal schooling where possible and at the same time provides in emergency settings an integrated education-protection-skills programme called Bete/My Home. This programme ensures that children out of school undertake accelerated learning, that all children in the community benefit from psycho-social support and case management and that adolescents receive life skills.