Not schooling children presents threat for future: UNESCO chief
Gila Benmayor – SOFIAThe lack of schooling for children amid humanitarian crises poses a threat regardless of whether they stay in their host country or return to their homeland, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has told Hürriyet ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit which will be held in Istanbul between May 23 and May 24.
Bokova said it was important to make the link between the humanitarian and the developmental sides, particularly in the event of protracted crises as in Syria, urging the formulation of unconventional responses such as education for humanitarian crises and displaced people around the world that should not only be limited to the Middle East.
“When you see a whole generation being lost, and when you see young people and children and they are growing up and not ever attending school, it becomes a threat. It becomes a liability for the development of the countries and communities whether they are accepted by the host communities or whether they go back to their countries,” Bokova said in an interview following the Global Women Leaders’ Forum in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.
She also noted that only 2 percent of all humanitarian response funding goes to education, saying it should be at least 10 percent. She also added that the EU recently announced it was being raised to 4 percent.
In this respect, Bokova said the first day of the World Humanitarian Summit would be dedicated to education along with a number of events throughout the day with the participation of UNESCO, the World Bank and Gordon Brown, the special envoy of the secretary-general for education.
In addition, Bokova also mentioned the “safe schools” initiative which was started by Norway and has already been supported by more than 50 countries by signing a declaration.
She also expressed her anticipation that the discussions at the two-day summit would focus on girls’ education and the plight of women refugees, who are some of the most affected.
Meanwhile, Bokova also highlighted UNESCO’s readiness to work with the Turkish government and officials on the refugee crisis issue, vowing that she would visit a refugee camp in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.