Quebec, Sept. 6 (Canadian-Media): Mathieu Lacombe, the Minister of Families announced Sep 4 that the Quebec government is launching a call for projects for the Support Program for childcare plans during the school break and the summer period to promote professional and school responsibilities for working parents and student parents.
Childcare. Image credit: Unsplash
Adding hours, days and weeks to the existing childcare offer or increasing the reception capacity (number of children or addition of groups) are being considered to improve the childcare plans targeting school-aged children (4 to 12 years old), and upto 21 for children with disabilities.
“To ensure the well-being and quality of life of families, who must reconcile family-work-study, we encourage the multiplication of childcare options during school break periods and summer vacations. I am convinced that the enhanced offer that will result from this call for projects will have a positive impact on many Quebec families, who will be able to better reconcile the different aspects of their life, while knowing their children in safety and in good company," said Lacombe.
The program is in effect until March 31, 2023 and has a total budget of $ 800,000 for the year 2020-2021.
Applicants eligible for this program are: non-profit legal persons; municipalities and boroughs
regional county municipalities; and band councils, the Kativik Regional Government, the Cree Nation Government and other Aboriginal organizations.
UNHCR Report: Coronavirus a dire threat to refugee education – half of the world’s refugee children out of school
#UNHCR; #Covid19; #RefugeeEducation
UNHCR, Sep 5 (Canadian-Media): In a report released today, titled “Coming Together for Refugee Education,” UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, predicts that unless immediate and bold action is taken by the international community to beat back the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on refugee education, the potential of millions of young refugees living in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities will be further threatened. The data in the report is based on the gross enrolment figures from the 2019 school cycle.
Mornings at Vahdat Primary School in Isfahan, Iran when the mix of refugee and host nation pupils arrive are full of enthusiasm and energy. Image credit: © UNHCR/Mohammad Hossein Dehghanian
While children in every country have struggled with the impact of COVID-19 on their education, the report finds that refugee children have been particularly disadvantaged. Before the pandemic, a refugee child was twice as likely to be out of school as a non-refugee child. This is set to worsen – many may not have opportunities to resume their studies due to school closures, difficulties affording fees, uniforms or books, lack of access to technologies or because they are being required to work to support their families.
“Half of the world’s refugee children were already out of school,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “After everything they have endured, we cannot rob them of their futures by denying them an education today. Despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, with greater international support to refugees and their host communities, we can expand innovative ways to protect the critical gains made in refugee education over the past years.”
Without greater support, steady, hard-won increases in school, university, and technical and vocational education enrolment could be reversed – in some cases permanently – potentially jeopardizing efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
In a powerful Final Word to the report, the Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR Ambassador for the Instant Network Schools Programme, Mohamed Salah, said: “Ensuring quality education today means less poverty and suffering tomorrow. Unless everyone plays their part, generations of children – millions of them in some of the world’s poorest regions – will face a bleak future. But if we work as a team, as one, we can give them the chance they deserve to have a dignified future. Let’s not miss this opportunity.”
The 2019 data in the report is based on reporting from twelve countries hosting more than half of the world’s refugee children. While there is 77% gross enrolment in primary school, only 31% of youth are enrolled in secondary school. At the level of higher education, only 3% of refugee youth are enrolled.
Far behind global averages, these statistics nevertheless do represent progress. Enrolment in secondary education rose with tens of thousands of refugee children newly attending school; a 2% increase in 2019 alone. However, the COVID-19 pandemic now threatens to undo this and other crucial advances. For refugee girls, the threat is particularly grave.
Refugee girls already have less access to education than boys and are half as likely to be enrolled in school by the time they reach secondary level. Based on UNHCR data, the Malala Fund has estimated that as a result of COVID-19, half of all refugee girls in secondary school will not return when classrooms reopen this month. For countries where refugee girls’ gross secondary enrolment was already less than 10%, all girls are at risk of dropping out for good, a chilling prediction that would have an impact for generations to come.
“I am especially concerned with the impact on refugee girls. Not only is education a human right, but the protection and economic benefits to refugee girls, their families, and their communities of education are clear. The international community simply cannot afford to fail to provide them with the opportunities that come through education,” said Grandi.
Adapting to the limitations imposed by COVID-19 has been especially tough for the 85% of the world’s refugees who live in developing or least developed countries. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, connectivity, even radio sets are often not readily available to displaced communities.
UNHCR, governments, and partners are working tirelessly to bridge critical gaps and ensure the continuity of refugee education during the pandemic through connected learning, television and radio, and by supporting teachers and caregivers to engage with students while observing health guidelines.
The report shows how families, communities and governments are working to provide education to refugee children. It shows positive examples of governments that have written into law the right of refugee children to attend state schools, with stories from Ecuador and Iran. Examples of digital innovation are highlighted by the Minister of Education in Egypt, and by a family in Jordan benefiting from the transition to online learning. With over half the world’s refugees living in urban settings, the importance of cities welcoming refugees is emphasized, with the Mayor of Coventry, UK, sharing how the city manages and why it makes sense.
The report calls on governments, the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders to join forces to find solutions which strengthen national education systems and link with pathways towards certified education, and to secure and safeguard education financing. Without such action, the report warns, we risk a lost generation of refugee children deprived of their education.
The risks to refugee education do not stop with COVID-19. Attacks on schools are a grim and growing reality. The report focuses on Africa’s Sahel region where violence has forced the closure of more than 2,500 schools affecting the education of 350,000 students.
#OntarioGov; #SchoolsReopening; ##Covid19Tests
Ottawa, Sep 3 (Canadian-Media): Ontario government's decision to omit mandatory school testing of Ontario students heading back to school this month amid a global pandemic, confirmed in Ontario's updated school reopening guidelines released last week, surprised many parents and observers, media reports said.
Covid 19 Testing. Image credit: Unsplash
A multiple public health and medical ethics experts interviewed by CBC Toronto supported the province's strategy to forgo mandatory COVID-19 testing in schools, at least for the time being.
Under the guidelines, parents and educators will be asked to screen for COVID-19 symptoms and keep children out of class if they display a possible infection. Other students who come into contact with a known case of the disease will also be directed to self-isolate for 14 days.
In those scenarios, although students may be advised to be tested by a health-care provider, but they will not be required to show proof of a negative test result before returning to class after their period of self-isolation.
But many were of the opinion that a policy for mandatory testing may contribute to keeping schools safe.
"I think mandatory testing across the board would be a good thing and add another layer to the safety protocols that are being put in place," said Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, reported by CBC News.
#UN; #Education; #Culture; #Covid19; #UNESCO; #GlobalEducationCoalition
UN, Sep 2 (Canadian-Media): Classes for more than 450 million students starting the new academic year are expected to be entirely remote – or for some, a mix of distance and in-person learning – the UN education and cultural organization (UNESCO) has said.
Children in Côte d'Ivoire wear face masks as they return to school after temporary closures due to COVID-19. Image credit: © UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
UNESCO, the lead UN agency for education globally, also highlighted persisting inequalities associated with distance learning that particularly impact vulnerable populations.
“The educational crisis remains severe,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO. “Several generations are facing the threat of school closures, which concern hundreds of millions of students and have lasted many months. This is an emergency for global education”, she added.
This year, 900 million pre-primary to secondary students, are set to return to school between August and October. However, fewer than half – about 433 million in 155 countries – can actually return to classrooms at this stage, according to UNESCO.
Factoring in about 128 million students in the middle of their academic year, a total of 561 million students, or one-in-three pupils globally, will attend classes.
That leaves almost a billion students – two-thirds of the global student population – facing either school closures or uncertainty surrounding their classes.
Girls at a higher risk According to UNESCO, till date, students around the world have lost an average of 60 days of schooling since lockdowns began in February and March.
Situations such as school closures, uncertainty over classes, inability to access remote learning or other challenges raises the risk of dropouts, decreased quality of learning, and negative social and economic impacts is high. Often vulnerable populations, in particular girls are at a higher risk.
It is therefore crucial that education authorities work quickly to determine how best to ensure a safe return to school, while protecting the health and safety of students and education staff, said UNESCO.
Against this backdrop, through the Global Education Coalition, UNESCO has launched the #LearningNeverStops campaign to ensure the continued learning of girls during school closures, and their safe return when schools reopen, in light of the many obstacles they face outside education, including adolescent pregnancy, early and forced marriage, and violence.
Also through the partnership, UNESCO has produced and disseminated communication and advocacy toolkits and a girls’ back to school guide to help all stakeholders.