SEATTLE, Washington — The COVID-19 pandemic has been life-altering for people across the globe. In addition to the worldwide death toll, COVID-19 left educational systems faced with new and unknown risks and challenges. Global pandemics, armed conflict and natural disasters are just a few examples of emergencies throughout history that have consistently been detrimental to educational access in many regions throughout the world. Combatting these issues has been relatively achievable in wealthier nations due to increased technological advancement. Yet, in developing countries or even low-income communities in wealthy nations, children are left with no way to access education.
Barriers to educational access create a growing knowledge gap for some of the most at-risk children in the world, which is a disadvantage that hinders further cognitive development throughout subsequent years. On January 25, 2021, the global community responded to this growing issue by founding the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies, a multi-organizational collaboration toward ensuring equal and accessible educational opportunities for all children. This groundbreaking effort supports the concept that education is a human right established in 1948 through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Education Access for All Children
During COVID-19, around 1.6 billion children nationwide faced barriers to educational access. This is not a new problem, as even before the pandemic 127 million children living in countries affected by emergencies experienced negative effects on educational access. However, the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies is not solely a response to the pandemic as the framework was established in 2019 to combat generations of these same issues. The mission statement released by the Geneva Global Hub established a focus on “all crisis-affected and displaced children and youth, regardless of their status (refugee, host community, internally displaced children and youth, as well as those affected by conflict, violence, disaster and epidemics).”
Governmental Influence through Evidence-Based Research
Competent educational systems are a vital stepping stone to societal improvement. The basis of this initiative is focused on the collaboration between participating nations as well as different global initiatives. To increase prevention and response to educational needs in emergencies, the Geneva Global Hub plans to generate a multifaceted approach based on the “development, migration and peace spectrum as well as with other sectors such as health and climate.” Developing a broader understanding of what is actually causing these educational barriers is key to understanding and improving issues as they arise in the future.
Establishing this approach also allows for a more directed approach to supporting new and existing policy and, more importantly, establishing an influential evidence-based proposal to those in governmental positions of power. This research-based understanding that the Geneva Global Hub is developing promises to establish preparedness measures for what to do when an emergency does strike, as well as measures to improve current educational systems to be less affected by emergencies.
Continuing the Support
The establishment of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies resulted from a collaboration between organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHCR, the University of Geneva, the Graduate Institute of International and Developmental Studies and Switzerland’s government who had first proposed this initiative in 2019. This initiative looks to continue creating global partnerships to continue to provide access to the most at-risk youths in the world. Through continuous work and support, better education opportunities are surely coming for many youths around the world.
– Jackson Thennis