Sarah, Duchess of York and her daughter, Princess Beatrice attended a high-level panel discussion in the House of Lords Tuesday on Education in Emergencies. The duo were at the event on behalf of the Duchess’s charity Street Child, which works to get vulnerable children around the world into education.
Hosted by General The Lord Dannatt, the panel discussion was chaired by the Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen O’Brien KBE, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs & Emergency Relief Coordinator.
During the panel discussion, they discussed the long-term impact on these children who are out of education due to conflict or natural disasters, the gap in funding for education during and after emergencies, and the need to bridge this gap so children can access the education they deserve.
Sarah, Duchess of York, founder patron of Street Child, said:
“I have just returned from a trip to Sierra Leone with Street Child, visiting schools and communities that we are working to support. It’s a country that has had everything thrown at it – the brutal civil war, the ebola crisis which left tens of thousands of children orphaned and the annual rains that cause homes to flood and schools to close.
What struck me was that every single child or parent that I met, no matter the tragedy or the hardship that they had suffered, all shared the same top priority – above all else, children wanted to go to school and learn and adults wanted to be able to send them.
There are 75 million children who are out of school because they have been affected by emergencies, whether that be conflict or natural disasters. That’s a tragedy for them and their countries. That is why I am so proud of the work that Street Child is doing to support such children.
We are hosting a discussion in the House of Lords on the importance of education in emergencies with funders, academics, and people from the UN and international governments. I hope it will bring to people’s attention the damage done to children when education is disrupted during and after emergencies, and the need to work to help them.”
Girls in these countries impacted by emergencies are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys, according to Street Child, which leaves them particularly vulnerable to early or forced marriage, sexual exploitation and trafficking.
School gives girls and boys a safe space during emergencies to protect them from the aforementioned situations, as well as child labour and recruitment into armed groups. But giving them a chance to escape poverty and violence is the number-one goal of providing education to these children.
Education receives less than two per cent of humanitarian aid during disasters, with most of the funds allocated to food, shelter, and health.