Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Overseas Development Aid

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
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59. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the actions his Department is taking to support the provision of education in developing countries in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56507/21]

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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63. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the actions his Department is taking to support the provision of education in developing countries in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56486/21]

Photo of Colm BrophyColm Brophy (Dublin South West, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 59 and 63 together.

The COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on education across the globe. For public health reasons, 1.6 billion young people were unable to attend school for long periods, and some are still not back in school. These school closures exacerbated existing inequalities, with those children most marginalised before COVID-19 having highest risk of learning losses and permanently dropping out of education.

Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable. Early in the pandemic Ireland, together with Liberia and Trinidad and Tobago, brought together UN member states and thought leaders to discuss the specific impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescent girls’ education. The outcome was a series of recommended actions to support adolescent girls in continuing their education and returning to schools after they reopened.

At a global level and in response to pressing educational needs, I have increased Ireland’s financial contributions this year to the Global Partnership for Education (to €10 million) and Education Cannot Wait (to €4 million).

The Global Partnership for Education is helping governments sustain learning and mitigate the impacts of school closures for up to 355 million children in 66 countries. Priority is given to reaching the most vulnerable children, including girls and children with disabilities.

Education Cannot Wait is supporting continuous access to learning and actions to protect the health and wellbeing of girls and boys living in emergencies and protracted crises. Their work targets 32 million vulnerable children and youth in over 30 countries affected by armed conflict, forced displacement, climate-related disasters and other crises.

At country level, Irish Embassies are supporting education ministries make key adjustments to education programmes, to allow for distance and blended learning as well as the safe reopening of schools. This includes provision of home based learning supports, distance education innovations and improving hand-washing facilities in schools. For example, in Mozambique, the Irish Aid supported EducaTV project provides audio-visual and digital science content, which were transmitted on TV and via an online platform reaching millions of teachers and students. While in Uganda last month, I saw an Irish Aid supported UNICEF home based learning support programme in Karamoja province, helping ensure that vulnerable children maintain access to education notwithstanding the duration of school closures in Uganda.

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