Last month Hurricane Matthew decimated Haitian lands, killing at least 1,000 people and leaving more than 1.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance. It was a timely reminder that natural disasters can touch any country, even India, devastating infrastructure and lives.
With winds reaching over 145 mph, the Category 4 storm destroyed numerous facilities but perhaps none as important as Haitian schools. The aftermath of the Hurricane Matthew has left over 116,000 kids without schooling and over 600 schools that have been deemed unsafe or unusable.
Schools were poised to open last week, marking it as a week of hope and happiness but instead has yielded heartbreak. October 10th in Haiti was supposed to mark the beginning of the new school year but with international assistance coming in slowly and education aid minimal, some Haitian schools still remain uncertain of when they will open their doors.
This is especially troubling for Haiti due to the fact that, like many other countries including India, their poverty rate is directly affected by primary school participation. According to the World Bank, 6 out of 10 people in live poverty in Haiti; however after the 2010 earthquake more schools were built, attendance rose and extreme poverty fell. With primary school participation rising from 78% to 90%, the poverty rate dropped from 31% to 24%.
Haiti is in need of various aspects of aid but the international community must remember how crucial of a role education plays in the future of Haiti. An educated population is the key to rebuild and thrive in a future filled with opportunity.
Right now, natural disasters and other emergencies, like the devastation in Haiti, are multiplying throughout the world and are getting more frequent, complex, and disruptive. In fact, over 75 million children are currently out of school due to conflict and crisis, over half of them girls.
When emergencies or natural disasters occur, or when crisis erupts, the educational needs of children and youth are often forgotten or deprioritized below other considerations like food, water, and safety. With less than 2% of humanitarian aid being used for education in emergency situations, we must do more to safeguard against temporary educational interruptions becoming permanent.
During these crises, children and youth suffer, and many are displaced internally or relocated to areas where governments cannot provide them with education services. In India, the Bhuj earthquake of 2001 resulted in the deaths of 971 students and 31 teachers. Additionally, 1,884 schools and 5,950 classrooms collapsed, and 11,761 school buildings suffered damage. Just last year, the Tamil Nadu floods resulted in all the schools in five affected districts being forced to close for up to five weeks.
The Education Cannot Wait fund, exists solely for emergencies such as the one that currently faces Haiti. Education Cannot Wait is an emergency aid platform that focuses solely on funding educational assistance during humanitarian crisis to ensure education goes uninterrupted.
No country is immune to disaster and we need all our leaders to fund Education Cannot Wait to make sure they're adequately equipped to deal with it so no child’s education has to wait. Take action to remind leaders in India about this today.