Education plays a central role in creating equal opportunities and awakening the full
potential for all people, making it to be part of fundamental human rights recognized
Globally. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights under article 26 states that Every
person has the right to education. It further envisages that Education shall be free and
Compulsory at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. This is echoed by UN
Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable
quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
However, access to education has been a challenge in many developing countries due to high levels of poverty. This has been made worse by changing climate, which has become a global problem. Climate change manifests itself through increased temperatures, change of rainfall patterns, increased frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions such as prolonged droughts and floods. These affect school going children either directly or indirectly therefore having a negative impact to the education as shall be discussed in this article.
Climate change affects school going children directly in various ways. For example, several
cases of floods destroying schools in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia have been reported, leaving Children with no rooms to attend their lessons. In some instances, such schools are closed indefinitely. For instance, more than 150 schools were closed for up to nine weeks in
Cambodia after the destructive 200 floods which had resulted to loss of over 40,000
textbooks. Floods also destroy various infrastructures such as bridges and roads making it
difficult for children to go to school. This increases absenteeism as school dropouts as well.
Prolonged droughts lead to drastic reduction agricultural yields, hence increased hunger both at home and at school. Today more than 2.1 Million people are in Northern Kenya facing starvation due to worst droughts in 40 years. These direct impacts of climate change have displaced families such that kids cannot attend school.
Droughts also have led to scarcity of clean water exposing going children to the risk of contracting water borne diseases. Across many parts of Kenya and Africa generally, livelihoods are predominantly dependent on crop farming and livestock rearing. Adverse effects of climate change such as floods and droughts have led to lower incomes in most families making it difficult to afford school related costs.
Most parents have no choice but keep their children at home instead of sending them to school so as to reduce costs. For example, nomadic livestock keeping communities in Kenya such as Maasai will have have their children look after cattle and move with them to look for greener pastures in response to drought. The opportunity for these children to go to school is therefore reduced.
In conclusion, impacts of climate change and especially drought and floods affect school
going children either directly or indirectly affecting the health, concentration, performance
which cumulatively lead to high school dropouts. To mitigate the effects of climate change,
every person has a duty to act.
Bidii Children's Charity is actively working with local communities to find ways to fight climate change by introducing better farming methods and also planting trees. The schools we work with having been able to provide better nutrition during this drought.