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School violence and bullying a major global issue
by UNESCO, Unicef, UNGEI, agencies
22 Jan. 2019
School violence and bullying a major global issue, new report highlights.
A new UNESCO report confirms that school violence and bullying are major problems worldwide. Behind the numbers: Ending school violence and bullying report demonstrates that despite the gravity of the problem, some countries have made significant progress towards reducing, or containing, school violence and bullying.
The publication presents the most up to date and comprehensive evidence on school violence and bullying, analyzing global and regional prevalence and trends, the nature and impact of the issue, and successful national responses. It brings together quantitative and qualitative data from a range of global and regional surveys, covering 144 countries and territories in all regions.
Almost one in three students (32%) has been bullied by their peers at school at least once in the last month and a similar proportion are affected by physical violence, according to the publication.
Physical bullying is the most frequent type of bullying in many regions, with the exception of North America and Europe, where psychological bullying is most common.
Sexual bullying is the second most common in many regions. School violence and bullying affects both male and female students.
Physical bullying is more common among boys, while psychological bullying is more prevalent among girls. Online and mobile phone bullying is also shown to be increasing.
Children who are perceived as different in any way are more likely to be bullied, and physical appearance is the most common cause of bullying. The second most frequent reasons reported by students relate to race, nationality or colour.
Why this matters: Bullying has a significant negative effect on children’s mental health, quality of life and academic achievement.
Children who are frequently bullied are nearly three times more likely to feel like an outsider at school and more than twice as likely to miss school as those who are not frequently bullied.
They have worse educational outcomes than their peers and are also more likely to leave formal education after finishing secondary school.
There are solutions: A number of measures have been shown to be effective in reducing or maintaining a low prevalence of school violence and bullying:
Bullying has decreased in almost half of the 71 countries and territories studied and a similar proportion of countries has also seen a decrease in physical fights or physical attacks.
These countries have a number of successful factors in common, notably a commitment to promoting a safe and positive school climate and classroom environment, effective systems for reporting and monitoring school violence and bullying, evidence-based programmes and interventions, training and support for teachers, support and referral for affected students, student empowerment and participation.
Political leadership and high-level commitment, together with a robust legal and policy framework that addresses violence against children and school violence and bullying, have proved effective in reducing or maintaining a low prevalence of school violence and bullying.
Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education said: "We are greatly encouraged that nearly half of countries with available data have decreased rates of school violence and bullying. This proves that through a combination of strong political leadership and other factors such as training, collaboration, reporting and monitoring, we can alleviate the climate of fear created by school bullying and violence. All children and young people have the right to safe, inclusive and effective learning environments."
Behind the numbers: Ending school violence and bullying is one of UNESCO’s contributions to the ‘Safe to Learn’ campaign, a new initiative dedicated to ending violence in schools so children are free to learn, thrive and pursue their dreams. The campaign was initially conceived by members of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children: UNESCO, UNICEF, UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations Girls Initiative (UNGEI.)
Access the report:
Jan. 2019
Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility, by Audrey Azoulay.
The world marks the first-ever International Day of Education on 24 January, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly last year in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.
UNESCO is calling on all countries to increase their political commitment to education as a force for inclusion driving the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals.
Today, 262 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school.
"Education is the most powerful force in our hands to ensure significant improvements in health, to stimulate economic growth, to unlock the potential and innovation we need to build more resilient and sustainable societies,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General in her statement for the Day.
“We will not succeed in breaking the cycle of poverty, mitigating climate change, adapting to the technological revolution, let alone achieve gender equality, without a real political commitment to universal education.”
According to new data released by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring Report:
The poorest children and youth in low-income countries are less than ½ as likely to complete primary school than the richest. They are less than ¼ as likely to complete lower secondary school. They are 1/10 as likely to complete upper secondary school.
Children in rural areas are over twice as likely to be out of school than children living in urban areas in low-income countries. Only 2% of the poorest girls in low-income countries complete upper secondary school.
These figures from the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) highlight the need for urgent action to reduce inequalities, which should be high on the agendas of countries and development partners.
"How we implement the global education goal will determine the success or failure of the entire push to end poverty, generate inclusive growth, strengthen peace and protect the planet," said Stefania Giannini, Assistant-Director-General for Education.
* Right to education handbook (270pp):
Jan. 2019
International Day of Education: Educators matter! (Education International)
Education International representing teachers worldwide celebrates the first ever International Day of Education, calling on governments to make quality public education for all a reality.
“We warmly welcome the first ever International Day of Education,” stressed Education International General Secretary David Edwards; “It is timely and overdue at the same time, as we are very much concerned about slow and uneven progress towards the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs).”
He went on to note that SDG4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all – is key to achieving all other SDGs.
“We as education professionals have the deep-rooted belief that education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. Investing in quality public education is investing in the future. That is why today, on International Day of Education, we reiterate our call for governments to invest in education and teachers: qualified educators make quality education for all possible. We also urge governments to take urgent action and make gender equality and inclusive education a reality!”
Jan. 2019
Education finally gets Global Attention, by Elin Martinez. (Human Rights Watch)
Today, the global community marks the first International Day of Education. For students, teachers, and organizations that support children’s right to education, it’s been a long time coming.
Since the 1990s, many activists have mobilized to try and ensure education gets more attention globally and nationally. The United Nations hopes to use this day to highlight education’s fundamental and transformative contributions towards peace and sustainable development.
It is also important to highlight that the international community has not provided sufficient or consistent global and national financing, or consistently tackled all barriers, to ensure all children benefit from a good, inclusive education.
Ironically, education is one of the basic human rights that global leaders frequently talk about. At Davos, the United Nations General Assembly, and G20 meetings, heads of state, government ministers, and UN agency experts widely agree that countries cannot develop without quality education for all. Many speak movingly of how education transformed their own lives.
If personal accounts of education’s importance translated into action, many of the problems and inequalities within education would have already been addressed. Yet, today’s education deficit – the tremendous gap between government’s international obligations to deliver on the right to education and what children actually experience in their local communities – shows that many challenges lay ahead.
Millions of children around the world should not continue to experience a complete denial of their right to education. Among them, millions of children with disabilities who are told there is no school for them, refugee children who are made to wait for years before host governments grant them adequate school access, children whose schools have been bombed or taken over by military forces during war, and children from minority backgrounds who are deprived of a quality education in their communities.
The right to education deserves more than one day. Let’s work to make 2019 the year education becomes a reality for millions more children around the world.

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Two-thirds of children lack access to welfare safety net, risking ‘vicious cycle of poverty’
by Isabel Ortiz
UNICEF, International Labour Organization, agencies
Social protection is critical in helping children escape poverty and its devastating effects, yet, the vast majority of children have no effective social protection coverage, UNICEF and the ILO said in a new joint report.
Evidence shows clearly that cash transfers play a vital role in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability. Yet, globally only 35 per cent of children on average are covered by social protection which reaches 87 per cent in Europe and Central Asia, 66 per cent in the Americas, 28 per cent in Asia and 16 per cent in Africa.
At the same time, one in five children lives in extreme poverty (less than US$ 1.90 a day), and almost half of the world’s children live in ‘moderate’ poverty (under $3.10 a day). Almost everywhere, poverty disproportionately affects children, as they are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty.
The report calls for the rapid expansion of child and family benefits, with the aim of achieving universal social protection for children, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Such benefits are a key element of policies to improve access to nutrition, health and education, as well as reducing child labour and child poverty and vulnerability.
The report notes that universal social protection for children is not a privilege of wealthy countries. A number of developing countries have made or achieved (or nearly achieved) universal coverage, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mongolia and South Africa.
But in many other countries, social protection programmes for children struggle with limited coverage, inadequate benefit levels, fragmentation and weak institutionalization. Some governments undergoing fiscal consolidation are even cutting allowances, instead of extending benefits as countries had agreed in the SDGs.
“Child poverty can be reduced overnight with adequate social protection,” said Isabel Ortiz, Director of Social Protection, ILO. “To improve the lives of all children is an issue of priorities and political will: even the poorest countries have fiscal space to extend social protection floors.”
"Poverty hits children the hardest, since its consequences can last a lifetime. The poor nutrition and lost years of education that often result are tragic both for the individual and for his or her community and society,” said Alexandra Yuster, UNICEF Associate Director and Chief of Social Policy. “Countries need to put children first and reach every child with social protection to end poverty for good."
When Member States ratified the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed in 2015 with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, they agreed to the global initiative’s top priority, namely eradicating poverty.
State benefits play vital role in preventing poverty
State benefits from public funds, in the form of cash grants, “play a vital role in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability”, the report insists. Of 139 countries covered by the report, on average, they spend 1.1 per cent of their wealth on children up to 14 years old.
“There is a huge underinvestment gap that needs to be covered,” said Isabel Ortiz, Director of the Social Protection Department at ILO. “The numbers worsen by region. In Africa, for instance, children represent 40 per cent of the African population overall, but only 0.6 per cent is actually invested in social protection for children.”
Children are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty, the report continues, with lack of access to education and poor nutrition among the most significant long-term impacts.
“While social protection cash transfers are vital for children, they shouldn’t stand alone,” said David Stewart, Chief of Child Poverty and Social Protection Unit at UNICEF. “They have to be combined with other services – if a child is living in a household with sufficient resources and if they don’t have access to educational health, it makes a big difference. So, it’s about combining these interventions together.”
A number of developing countries have made real progress in realising universal social protection programs. In Mongolia for example, which has achieved universal social protection for children, austerity measures threaten these gains however.
“Recently, due to fiscal pressures from international financial institutions, they have been advising the Government to target the universal benefit, Ms. Ortiz explained. “So it’s one of these cases where fiscal consolidation or austerity short-term…may be having long-term impacts on children. So the UN message is to try to look at the longer-term.”
Improving all children’s lives ‘is an issue of political will’
“Child poverty can be reduced overnight with adequate social protection,” Ms. Ortiz said, adding that improving the lives of all children “is an issue of priorities and political will – even the poorest countries have fiscal space to extend social protection”.
“Ultimately, the extension of social protection is always about Government’s will. It is because a Government realizes about the important developmental impacts of protecting people, particularly those that are vulnerable, across the lifecycle, so in times of childhood, in old age, in times of maternity, protections are particularly needed.”
* Isabel Ortiz is the Director of the Social Protection Department at ILO.
* Access the ILO, UNICEF report on children & social protection:

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