”When you work for education, you work for peace”

Finn Church Aid repairs schools together with parents’ and teachers’ association in Central African Republic. In August, the construction work was ongoing in the capital Bangui. Photo: Ville Asikainen

Half of the children left outside education live in crisis and conflict areas. Especially in the low-earning countries, it takes years, or even decades, to overcome a conflict. If children in these countries never have the opportunity to attend school, entire generations will be lost. Therefore a significant part of Finn Church Aid’s work is focused on providing education in crisis areas.

On Wednesday 10th of December, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize for the courageous work she has done in helping children and especially girls receive education.

According to the Executive Director of Finn Church Aid, Antti Pentikäinen, providing education in especially fragile states and crisis areas is the best peace work.

“In the conflict-torn Central African Republic, parents’ and teacher’s associations are almost the only surviving social structures. When teachers and parents from different backgrounds have to work and solve problems together, the school environment will create harmony to the entire community”, Pentikäinen said on Tuesday at FCA’s Education in Emergencies press conference.

Importance of education in conflicts to be better acknowledged

In 2012, only 1, 4 percent of all humanitarian aid was targeted for improving education.

“It’s very little. Until now, education hasn’t been viewed as essential need, even though it is central in preventing wider social problems such as child marriages and the use of illegal child labour in conflict areas. Fortunately Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has recognised the significance of schooling and education in catastrophes and wants to be involved in supporting it”, said Eija Alajarva, FCA’s Head of Humanitarian Assistance.

EU has in recent years also supported education in crisis areas. EU is funding ECHO Children of Peace – project, which supports providing education in ten crisis and conflict areas. Finn Church Aid is one of the nine organisations involved in the project. Through Children of Peace, FCA supports providing education to both Muslim and Buddhist IDP camps in Rakhine state in Myanmar. There are approximately 140 000 internally displaced people in the region.

EU/ECHO Children of Peace got started when EU received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. In 2014, Children of Peace will spend 6, 7 million euros to its education projects.

Text: Satu Helin

 

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