Access to education for 1 million children improved through 10-year UNICEF and ING partnership

10 YEAR UNICEF – ING PARTNERSHIPNEW YORK/ADDIS ABABA, 21 April 2015–UNICEF and ING, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation, today announced the renewal of a decade-long partnership that to date has provided access to better quality education for more than 1 million of the world’s hardest-to-reach children.

During the past 10 years, ING has inspired its employees and customers worldwide to raise funds for UNICEF, helping to improve children’s access to education in remote communities in Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Nepal and Zambia.

In Ethiopia, 458 Alternative Basic Education Centres for pastoralist children have been built, benefiting over 50,000 children. Andover 3,400 facilitators (teachers from the community) have been trained to apply a ‘childfriendly’ teaching method.

“ING shares UNICEF’s deep commitment to improving the lives and well-being of children and young people around the world,” said Koos Timmermans, Member and Vice-Chairman, Management Board Banking, ING. “We are united by a conviction that education is a fundamental building block for the development of children and their societies. We are proud that with the support from our customers and employees, the ING–UNICEF partnership has positively affected the lives of 1 million disadvantaged children.”

The partnership has trained 17,000 teachers and has been instrumental in the development of new ways to reach marginalised children. In 2006, ING was one of the first investors to support Alternative Basic Education Centres, providing much needed educational opportunities for pastoralist children in Ethiopia. The strategy has now been fully integrated into the country’s education system. In Nepal, ING was also the first investor to support the Adolescent Development and Participation programme in 2013, helping to equip young people with social and financial skills.

The second phase of the partnership will shift its focus to adolescents. While the world has made remarkable progress for millions of children over the past decades – reducing child mortality, increasing the number of children enrolled in primary school, and expanding access to health care services – far too many of the 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide have been left behind.

“UNICEF is grateful to ING – and especially to its employees and customers – for their commitment to improving children’s lives and futures,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We are excited that our renewed partnership with ING will focus on reaching adolescents and helping them develop the knowledge and skills they need to build brighter futures for themselves, their families, and the societies in which they live.”

For the next three years, the renewed partnership aims to reach 335,000 adolescents in six countries – Indonesia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Nepal, the Philippines and Zambia –enabling them to develop into socially and financially empowered adults and full members of society.

10 YEAR UNICEF – ING PARTNERSHIPBehind these figures are the individual stories of teachers and children like Mohamed, a young Ethiopian man who herded goats until he was 11 years old and was given the opportunity to be one of the first children to enrol in an ING-supported Alternative Basic Education Centre. “The school building was made of sticks and we shared one book between five students and were sitting on rocks,” said Mohamed, who is now 19 years old, remembering his first experiences at school.“So much has changed since then! Right now, the children in my community have their classes in a real school building; they have tables and chairs and every child has a textbook. Most importantly, parents really understand now why children should go to school.”

In 2005, UNICEF faced a challenge in providing basic education for pastoralist children in Ethiopia. Young pastoralists, who make up a significant part of Ethiopia’s population of children, grow up in areas far from primary schools. But with ING’s support, UNICEF and its partners initiated a new concept called Alternative Basic Education Centres (ABEC) to provide education for these children – an approach that turned out to be the first step towards a new, successful education model.

These alternative learning centres introduced education into the pastoralist lifestyle so that the school calendar and the time schedule were adapted to the daily chores of the children who take care of the livestock. This approach turned out to be so successful that, over the years, 458 centres have been built in Afar, Somali, SNNPR and Oromia regions of Ethiopia.

Furthermore, the government raised the standard of these alternative schools to meet that of regular primary schools. As a result, many of the schools have now been formalised or will be formalised in the future; teachers receive professional training and pastoralist children can continue their education in formal secondary school.

In South Omo, Education- a gateway for children but a competition for parents

By Zerihun Sewunet

Students attend class at Alkatekach primary school

DAASANACH, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR), 18 December 2013 – Omorate village in South Omo Zone of the SNNPR is a semi-arid area where the Daasanach tribes live. Their houses are dome-shaped made from a frame of branches, covered with hides and patch works. These houses are scattered along the site where the Omo River delta enters Lake Turkana of Kenya. Most tribes in South Omo are pastoralists. In Omorate too, the people’s lives are bound to the fate of their herds of cattle, sheep and goats that they raise.

Children play a critical role in the pastoralist lifestyle. Boys as young as 6 years old start to herd their family’s sheep and goats, while girls marry very young so parents get additional livestock through dowry. Therefore, parents do not send their children to school. In the Daasanach tribe, education is considered as a luxury. For teachers of Alkatekach Primary School this is their biggest challenge. They use the Alternative Basic Education (ABE) system to cater for the need of the children. The Alternative Basic Education system responds to the urgent need for an education that suits the special needs and constraints of pastoral life. It provides flexible school hours, allowing pastoral children fulfil their household responsibilities of herding cattle to find water and pastures while still finding time for school.

Meseret Chanyalew, Director of the school, explains there is an increase in the number of children from last year because of the continuous effort to enroll and retain students. “We enroll students throughout the year to encourage children to come to school. We also discuss with the community to create awareness on education by going house to house to convince parents to send their children to school.”

Located five kilometers from Omorate town of Kuraz district, the Alkatekach Primary school has only 79 registered students for the 2013/2014 academic year and the highest grade these students can reach is fourth grade. This is because there are no classes set up above the fourth grade.

The Lucky ones in the family go to school

Temesgen Qoshme, 14,  attends a class in Alkatekach primary school14 years old Temesegen Koshme is a third grade student in Alkatekach Primary School. He is sitting in a class exercising the conversion formula for different measurements. His favorite subjects are mathematics and social science. Unlike Temesgen, children his age are taking care of family cattle or are married off. “I prefer coming to school than looking after my parents’ cattle. Alkatekach is where I grasp knowledge,” says Temesgen, “When I go to school in the morning my brother and sister look after the cattle. After school, I go straight to the field to take over”.

Temesgen’s parents told him that his younger sister is waiting to be married off, “I tried to explain that she has to come to school, but they did not listen to me” says Temesgen concerned about his sister’s future. Temesgen is one of the lucky ones to be enrolled this year. For him school is his happiest place.

Agure Amite, a father of twelve, living in Omorate village, sends two of his children to Alkatekach Primary School. When asked why the others do not go to school he says, “Some of them have to look after my cattle and others are not ready for school because they are below 10 years old.” Some parents in the Daasanach tribe send their children to school when they reach age 10. However, nationally children start school at age 7.

Alternative Basic Education (ABE) accommodates the pastoral children

Children, not students, play at Alkatekach Primary SchoolThe 2012 study on situation of out of school children in Ethiopia shows that SNNPR has 46.5% of out of school children making it the third highest region after Oromia (49.2%) and Amhara (48.7%).

With the support of UNICEF and the generous donation of US$240, 000 received from ING the Daasanach tribe now has ABE centers close to in their area. In addition to the construction of ABE centers, ING’s support also helped to provide furniture, training for ABE facilitators and education materials to pastoralist and economically disadvantaged children. For Meseret and her colleagues at the Alkatekach Primary School, this means increasing the schools capacity up to sixth grade means that children like Temesgen will be able to receive education within their community for the next two years.

Back to School video campaigns

Students of Lions kids primary school in Entoto, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Ministry of Education of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia launched a massive nationwide awareness campaign on going back to school and called on parents, communities and local leaders to bring their children to school.

The awareness campaign, which kick-started in September, as schools open across the country, is a drive that seeks to increase awareness of parents on the importance of education and support Ethiopia to meet its Millennium Development Goals on universal access.

Some Back to School television campaigns in Amharic can be seen here

And see the press release back in September here.

Ministry of Education in Ethiopia launches Awareness Campaign on Back to School

Campaign aims to enroll nearly 3 million children out of school by 2015

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Student facilitator and 7th grade student Senait Berhane (3rd from right) is pictured with 4 and 5-year olds in Atsbi district, Tigray region, Ethiopia. After learning letters and numbers during Berhane’s summer break, the five children are now ready to enter school thanks to a UNICEF-supported Child-to-Child Programme (©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Negash)

16 September 2013: The Ministry of Education of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopiatoday launched a massive nationwide awareness campaign on going back to school and called on parents, communities and local leaders to bring their children to school.

The awareness campaign, which is being kick-started this week, as schools open across the country, is a drive that seeks to increase awareness of parents on the importance of education and support Ethiopia to meet its Millennium Development Goals on universal access.

“Over the last two decades Ethiopia’s Gross Enrollment Rate has soared, government has allocated a huge budget and admirable results have been achieved,” said His Excellency Ato Shiferaw Shugutie the Federal Minister of Education “Communities have owned education activities and increased the numbers of children coming to school, this campaign is a push to ensure that no child is left behind.”

Ethiopia has steadily increased the number of children in school in the last two decades from as low as 2 million in the 1990’s to over 22 million in 2012, trebling its Gross Enrollment Rates from as low as 32 per cent in 1990s to 95 in 2012. With the current Net Enrollment Rate of 86 %, Ethiopia is on track to meet MDG 2.

Mama’s tune- young children get ready for formal school through music

However, current data from the just completed Study on the Situation of Out of School Children in Ethiopia shows that 3 million children remain out of school, while enrollment rates reveal marked regional disparities with regions like Afar recording enrollments as low as 32%. Key barriers in the way of the country’s drive towards access to universal primary education include costs around schooling, lack of basic facilities and quality education. These are often compounded by negative and harmful traditional practices, like early marriage and the preference for boys over girls, which put education out of reach for many girls.

The media campaign seeks to mobilize communities, national leaders and international development partners to bring and keep Ethiopia’s children in school.

“Education remains the engine to drive Ethiopia’s long-term economic development prospects and it is clear that against all odd parents across this vast nation know this and are committed to bringing their children to school,” said Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia ” However, if we are to build healthier families, a better economy and a prosperous Ethiopia, families should educate more girls to a higher level.”