On the 20th November the global community celebrates Universal Day of the Child, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the International Convention of the Rights of the Child.
On this day in 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and, on this day in 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This convention laid out the fundamental human rights of the child to receive care, education, shelter, protection, equal opportunities and a childhood – no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender or ability.
Yet today, we are facing the greatest threat to the Rights of the Child we’ve ever seen.
This year hundreds of millions of children around the world have been forced out of school due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Extended school closures and community lockdowns have disproportionately impacted vulnerable children in developing countries.
It’s estimated that up to 1.4 million children are at risk of never returning to school.
While education is essential for the development and future of all children; for vulnerable children in developing countries education is more than learning – it’s safety.
It means having a safe place to go during the day.
It means being given the chance to escape extreme poverty.
It means gaining knowledge of basic human rights, hygiene and health.
For young women having an education means less chance of forced child marriage and teenage pregnancy.
A recent report by UNICEF estimated one-third of the world’s schoolchildren – some 463 million kids – were unable to access remote learning when COVID-19 hit.
More significantly, a large proportion of these children don’t even have access to school books or stationery for at-home learning, nor access to literate or available caregivers who can supplement formal education with home learning.
Time at home increases the financial burden on families in developing countries who are at higher risk of loss of income from daily labour. As a result, many are struggling to provide adequate nutrition for their children who usually receive their main meal at school.
The situation for BTO
In 2019-20, with your help, BTO funded over 112,100 hours of schooling and educational support for 126 children in Kenya and Nepal and provided school uniforms, shoes and stationery for 130 children.
In Nepal, schools have been closed for the majority of 2020. With a significant lack of digital infrastructure, children in remote and rural communities have very little access to remote learning. There are currently no official plans for when Nepali schools will return in 2021.
On March 15 2020, the Kenyan Government abruptly closed schools across the country, sending vulnerable children too often unstable and poverty-stricken family homes, and onto the streets.
Along with our partners in Nepal BTO provides loving homes, holistic family support and educational access for hearing-impaired children, children affected by HIV, children with complex special needs and children rescued from child trafficking.
In Kenya, our joint street-to-school initiative with local organisation Alfajiri creates pathways for abandoned children in Nairobi to escape the poverty and violence of the slums and receive shelter and support to attend school.
In both Kenya and Nepal, Government-funded education and educational support are likely to be reduced in 2021 as countries adapt to the economic impact of COVID-19.
For vulnerable children this will mean even less access to education, more pressure on already struggling families, and an ever-increasing threat to the safety of their future.
Can you help?
We need to raise $50,000 to build our 2021 education fund to ensure we can continue to provide education and support to these children and to create more opportunities for safety for the children left highly vulnerable during the pandemic.
This education fund will cover costs including, but not limited to:
- School tuition fees
- Daily meals, snacks and nutritional supplements
- School uniforms and shoes
- Stationary and equipment
- Boarding school sponsorship for street-to-school participants
With your help we can make sure vulnerable children have the access to the education and support they need to stay safe and have a chance at a brighter future.
Every little bit helps and makes a direct impact on the immediate and future safety and opportunities of the children we support.