Not Thinking Straight

Less than 2% of humanitarian aid apportioned to education? Are we crazy? Surely, the responses of the world to humanitarian disasters (man made or natural) have to pay heed to both the short term and long term?

Reuters – Disaster Hit Children Struggle Without School Buildings

Money spent on education, school infrastructure and related aspects plays a part in the short term as well as the long term. For example, in Bangladesh many old ramshackle school buildings were replaced with far more stable, solid concrete structures. These have become local and regional shelters when cyclones hit the country and have already saved vast numbers of lives. Schools have the potential to provide focal community rallying points in the critical days after a disaster or emergency.

In the longer term, it’s bad enough for an economy of a country or area when humanitarian disasters hit. The negative impacts are even greater in the longer term when children go without schooling for months or even years. Large numbers of these children may never return to formal education and this can have a debilitating impact on the local economy, reducing the competitive potential and ability to fully engage in economic activity in the modern age.

Finally, after a traumatic disaster there are many psychological problems in the society, fear psychosis, loss and bereavement. Schools and places of learning offer the best opportunities to address these needs in children and to help them to get some routine and habits of positive daily life established.

With all these considerations in mind, it seems there’s a need for a fundamental rethink of how humanitarian aid is allocated, in order to see a significant increase in the amount finding its way to education related expenditure.

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