Ceasefire, education and sustainable development (Mar 05, 2024)

The air is cold in Geneva. It's 17th Feb, 2023, and by the end of the day, the UK will become the largest (new) donor in a strategic plan to support 20 million children through the United Nations Education Can’t Wait (ECW) programme . The ECW is an international response to a huge global problem. Between war, climate breakdown and forced displacement, there are now 222 million children whose education is no longer possible around the world, with 75 million children out of school completely by 2023.

As the UK commits £80 million in funding through the ECW, Minister Andrew Mitchell proclaims that as a nation, ‘[We are] renewing our commitment to education in emergencies’ in the 21st century.

377 days later, new figures emerge:
• Sixteen: is the number of donor nations, inc. the UK and Germany, that have suspended funding to the United Nations aid to Palestinian territories, specifically the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
• Five: is the number of work areas that the UNRWA leads in Palestine: the largest of which education provision for children and young people.
• 183: is the number of schools that were run by the UNRWA in Gaza before Oct 7th
(we were working with UNRWA to install solar on two of the schools as a pilot project, to eventually put solar on all of them)
• 9,443: is the number of education personnel - including thousands of school principals, teachers, trainees, parents and administration assistants - supporting 1.9 million children living in Gaza, to have access to continued education services.
• 42% is the proportion of children and young people in Palestine, found to have a need for additional mental health intervention within schooling, due to repeated trauma living. and and

Where are we now?

Last week the UNRWA released its latest statement, saying the agency is ‘at breaking point’ due to the suspension of funding by the international community and continued bombings within Gaza . What’s the connection?

As well as the atrocious impact on urgent education services and lives of children right now, in just the first 60 days of the increased escalations: it was suggested that more than 281,000 metric tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere due to CO2 from aircraft missions, tanks and fuel from other vehicles, as well as emissions generated by making and exploding the bombs, artillery and rockets : affecting children far into the future.

Put into context: 281,000 tonnes of carbon represents more than the annual footprint of TWENTY of the world’s most vulnerable climate nation states put together . This measure also does not include other planet-warming gases such as methane: which is known to be released by military warfare , and is suggested to be 80x more potent than carbon dioxide in its heating impact on the planet .

What can be done?

• If you feel that the UK Government should reverse its decision to withdraw all funding to UNWRA, impacting millions of children’s education worldwide, then have you thought about signing a petition? There are several petitions currently live. Check out reputable platforms such as 38Degrees, Change.org or go direct via the UK Governments own Petition platform: https://petition.parliament.uk/
• Do you have a pension scheme? If so, did you know that billions of UK pension funds are investing in arms and fossil fuels? If you want to ‘green your pension’ or look at moving your pension to a more ethical platform, where your money will fund responsible and climate positive initiatives then a good place to start is: https://makemymoneymatter.co.uk/sign-the-petition33/
• Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in the official international campaign for people interested in looking at how UK money in used in the current situation in Palestine.
• Sign up to our newsletter. We are still hopeful of installing on the two pilot schools with UNWRA in Palestine in the future. By joining our community and the Solar for Schools movement, you’ll receive updates, and we’ll informed of when this is happening and how you can help us reach more schools across other war-torn regions, too.

Contact us
Or call us at: +44 (0)1376 428984