World Environment day: ” We must not let education become the forgotten casualty of climate change”-Silas Lwakabamba
Juin05

World Environment day: ” We must not let education become the forgotten casualty of climate change”-Silas Lwakabamba

World Environment day: “We must not let education become the forgotten casualty of climate change”-Silas Lwakabamba*   On World Environment Day, there are plenty of words spoken about the obvious damage being wreaked by climate change – the chaos of hurricanes, wild fires and melting polar ice caps is there for all to see. But there’s another more hidden casualty of this new world of rising temperatures, drought, and increased natural disasters:  the education of our young people. At the simplest level, the wilder weather that we’re already seeing means children are prevented from getting to school. Hurricanes Irma and Harvey meant 1.7 millionUS students were temporarily unable to go to school last year – and officials in Puerto Rico have also recently announced plans to close over 280 schools following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria. “Climate change is compounding educational inequalities that already exist” In wealthier nations, the damage caused by the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events more often than not tends to cause temporary disruption to children’s education.  But in poorer countries, the consequences can be far more long lasting. Buildings and infrastructure can take months or years to rebuild, with devastating implications for learning. Girls are most likely to be taken out of school in the wake of climate-related shocks, as was found in studies in Pakistan and Uganda after natural disasters there. So, indirectly, climate change is compounding educational inequalities that already exist. But the hardest hit parts of the world are those where universal education is still denied millions and Sub-Saharan Africa is on the front lines. Adult literacyrates are around 65%, compared to a global average of 86%. Here, over a fifth of childrenaged 6-11 are out of school, and a third of those aged 12-14. In Rwanda, we know the devastating impact of being forced from one’s home can have on a child’s education. But the big refugee crises of the future will not just be driven by war, but by the environment, with experts warning tens of millionsare likely to be displaced in the next decade by droughts and crop failures brought about by climate change.  What’s more, rising temperatures are predicted to result in the spread of lethal diseases. It is thought that a 2°C rise in temperatures could lead to an additional 40-60 million people in Africa being exposed to malaria. The disease is already one of the most significant factors in student absenteeism on the continent, with estimates ranging from 13 – 50%depending on the region.  Environmental changes are diminishing children’s education in other ways too. Malnourishmentdirectly affects children’s ability to learn. The World Food Programme has identified hunger and malnutrition as one of the most significant impacts of...

Read More