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Training Desperately Needed Teachers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6 OCTOBER 2006

Training Desperately Needed Teachers
Highlighted By World Teachers Day

Training teachers is a key part of Save the Children's work in 120 countries around the world, and especially this week when on World Teachers Day, yesterday, the United Nations pointed out that the world faces an 18 million teacher shortfall in the coming decade.

"Save the Children is contributing to the solution by training teachers around the world – but is especially concerned about the number of teachers and children being affected by armed conflict. Save the Children's Rewrite the Future campaign aims to get 8 million children in areas of armed conflict, into school," John Bowis, Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand, said today.

"Teachers play a key role in these situations because well-managed schools play an important role in helping to protect children from physical harm, psychological and emotional stress, recruitment into armed groups, family separation, and other abuses. Classes provide a sense of normality, routine and hope for the future, all of which are critical to children’s learning and emotional well-being. Educational programmes can also provide survival skills, teaching children how to avoid landmines, protect themselves against sexual abuse, and deal with fear and anger.

"The commitment of local people to providing education is admirable in these situations. Dedicated young teachers work with communities to both educate and protect children. Teachers like Laxmi from Dhumrethumka Community School in Nepal have to walk 2 hours up steep hillsides to get to and from school. They are devoted to the cause because education is so precious and essential to helping their people escape poverty and conflict," John Bowis said.

"I met some of these children on my recent visit to one of our projects in Nepal where 1000 private schools have been closed due to Maoist activity. It's a dire situation, which we are working in. More than half of all girls and 80 per cent of lower caste 'Dalit' children are not getting a basic education. Only one third of primary school teachers are trained, while over 1 million primary aged children do not go to school at all. If there were more teachers, more children could go to school.

"Save the Children has established local committees who identify which children are not in school and why. This information is incorporated into a school improvement plan, with the committee accepting responsibility for sending all children over the age of six to school regularly. In these areas enrolment now exceeds 90 per cent, the pass rate has increased from 39 per cent to 68 per cent, and the drop out rate has fallen from 23 per cent to 2 per cent," John Bowis said.

Save the Children's Rewrite the Future campaign has been developed because there are 115 million children of primary school age who currently cannot go to school at all in this modern and civilised world. 43 million of these are in countries which have recently been, or still are, affected by conflict: 29 million in Africa, 12 million in Asia, and 2 million in the rest of the World, including 231,000 in Papua New Guinea.

"Without trained teachers, it is impossible to deliver good-quality education. In countries experiencing prolonged conflict and in post-conflict situations where qualified teachers have been killed or fled, new teachers need to be trained.

"In Southern Sudan, for example, Save the Children has trained 100 primary school teachers, some of whom had only completed three years of primary school themselves. Also, because many teachers returning after years of displacement in the north of the country have little English – the language in which the southern curriculum is taught – we have supported intensive English language courses for teachers.

"It is also important that the curriculum is relevant to children’s lives and experiences, and that it meets their particular needs. In Indonesia, Save the Children developed a ‘Framework for Learning for Children Affected by Emergencies’ that outlines three areas of learning important for children whose lives and education have been disrupted.

"The first addresses survival skills to help children live safely in camps and other temporary places. The second is focused on individual and social development to help children overcome the negative experiences they have had as a result of conflict. The third helps them develop learning skills and provides teachers with activities to help children re-engage with learning when their education has been disrupted," John Bowis said.

Save the Children works on delivering lasting improvements to children's lives both here in New Zealand and worldwide.

Save the Children's Annual Appeal runs from 9 to 15 October this year. Donations can be made by phoning 0800 167 168.

ENDS

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