The el Niño reports: Education
Beauty is just 13 and in secondary school, but the area that she lives in in Zimbabwe has been hit hard by el Niño. She’s tired, hungry and weak. Beauty is the eldest of four siblings, living with their grandmother who struggles to pay their school fees since their parents died.
Due to the severe droughts, each day before school Beauty wakes up at 4am and collects water for the family then embarks on the nine kilometre walk to school. With little food at home, the journey tires her out, “the distance to school makes me lose hope, sometimes my bones hurt. At home there is nothing to cook, sometimes my siblings and I go out to beg. If I don’t eat my body fails me and the next day I can’t get up to go to class.”
Families affected by el Niño are seeing their children’s education suffer for different reasons. In Timor Leste 38 per cent of families reported a lack of water at their children’s schools. Some schools are unable to open due to lack of water, or even food. Other families are no longer able to pay the school fees due to el Niño affecting their livelihoods, or their children may have to go out to find work to supplement the family’s salary.
Plan International is working with schools across Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and further afield to provide water trucks with clean water to stop nearby schools and also food parcels for the pupils.
Deputy Headmaster at Beauty’s school, Checkson Tsumele, has noticed a decline in students since the beginning of the drought. He says, “With nothing to eat at home children have to stay at home rather than coming to get an education. Some children are sent to South Africa to find work and away from their families they are at greater risk of abuse and exploitation.”
The concern is that with so many of the next generation having to drop out of school, for one reason or another, in the long term they may become the lost generation, with little access to opportunities.
Read more about the effects el Niño is having on children and their families around the world, and help spread awareness of this unreported disaster.
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