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Disadvantaged groups in education and emergencies

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 3532 words Published: 11th Apr 2017

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This chapter first identifies groups or clusters who would be particularly vulnerable educationally in an emergency. This does not catalogue all vulnerabilities in these groups, but tries to restrict it to existing disadvantage which may be exacerbated by emergency or new vulnerabilities created by disaster. It then looks at ‘educational sites’ which are also vulnerable in themselves, or which might contribute to vulnerability. It draws attention to the intersection of multiple vulnerabilities, but also signals the notion of emergency as an opportunity. The chapter also draws attention to hidden or forgotten emergencies.

3.1.1 Gender-related disadvantage

It would be commonly agreed that girls as a broad category are at greater risk during an emergency, because of traditional gender disadvantage. ‘Normal’ patriarchal cultures are strengthened during emergencies, as people seek comfort in routine relations, roles and hierarchies. If girls are routinely left without access to education, this is unlikely to change. Afghanistan, for example, is traditionally seen as a site of educational difficulties for girls (although in Kabul they currently attend schools and projects freely). The links of gender disadvantage with poverty and economic vulnerability are well documented (Mujahid-Mukhtar, 2008). Cultural barriers often cited are limited roles for girls and women, differential treatment of girls in nutrition and health, men viewed as breadwinners, a male dominated education system, gender-differentiated child-rearing practices, low status of women, lack of knowledge of the social and personal benefits of education, gender stereotyping and threat of sexual violence (UNICEF, 2007).

Specific areas related to emergency in many or all countries which have been highlighted in this study would be:

  • Early marriage (girls are pushed into marriage because of fragile and insecure situations, increased poverty, death of bread-winning relatives, and therefore they leave school). After war, there are fewer men, so girls are pushed into polygamous marriages (as in Afghanistan), but conversely, therefore, men are forced to accept more than one wife. Older people have not adapted their norms to accept single unattached women, as in other post-conflict locations
  • Child labour (sons recruited in conflict, the need to work, displacement causing vulnerability to be incorporated into trafficking and sex trade). Domestic labour, normally girls, is often not viewed as ‘child labour’ although this can prevent school attendance.
  • Boys are more likely to receive kits and educational materials because of ‘normal’ male preference in and out of schools (interview data, Nepal).
  • Protectionism/lack of independence. In the context of the tsunami, in the Maldives secondary schools do not exist on every island, and parents may be reluctant to send their daughters to neighboring islands for fear of pregnancy and also fear of sexual abuse
  • Abuse. Sexual abuse, rape, gang rape and physical abuse all get worse in the camps and in situations of emergency with the breakdown of law and order and lack of supervision. Men experiencing loss of status are more likely to engage in domestic violence.
  • Trafficking for prostitution increases, particularly post-emergency when police or security force protection is withdrawn (interview data, Nepal). During conflict, boys may be recruited or taken for enforced labour. Kidnapping and abduction are a threat as well as trafficking.
  • Religious taboos and misinformation. Oxfam reported that in some cases in the tsunami the heavy and voluminous clothing worn by Muslim women and the cultural barriers that prevent girls from learning to swim contributed to the death by drowning of many women and girls. The same clothing also restricted some women from running to high places or from climbing trees. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many men survived by doing just this. There are reports from many of the tsunami-affected countries of Muslim women who perished because they were too afraid to leave their home with their head uncovered. Conversely, in some cases the waves were so strong that women were stripped of their clothing and there are reports of naked women refusing to climb into rescue boats manned by males from their villages (Pittaway et al., 2007).
  • Marginalization of females during humanitarian and reconstruction efforts after the tsunami, with lack of consultation about needs and with response efforts almost exclusively headed by male staff. Refuges and camps often showed little regard for women’s health, safety and privacy.

However, gender-related disadvantage does not always mean girls come off worst: in conflict, boys may be more likely to be recruited as child soldiers, and hence lose schooling; in economic difficulties caused by disaster, they may be taken out of school because they have greater earning power. Conversely, there is evidence from Nepal that females joining insurgent groups (e.g. Maoists) may experience higher status there and participation in decision making, and that in this sense, conflict has increased rather than decreased female status. Much depends on their role, whether combatants, supporters or dependents (Plan, 2008a). While an ex-combatant woman may enjoy a more equal status within a relationship or marriage with another ex-combatant, when an unmarried woman otherwise wants to return to her family or community she is a seen as ‘spoiled’, as she would not have been protected in the same way as non-combatants growing up in traditional or conservative cultures.

3.1.2 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees

While these groups which can be caused by an emergency are clearly vulnerable generally, there is sometimes a difference relative to other groupings in that they are identifiable, and that they receive help. In some countries, those formally identified as IDPs may be the more fortunate ones, as they can claim assistance, including educational support. They are visible in the camps, whereas the ‘lone IDPs’ who are fleeing a personal emergency, or who do not have the political knowledge to claim official IDP status, can suffer problems of discrimination or exclusion in a new community. IDPs may not want to, or be unable to, return to their own communities, and have resettled: at what point do they cease to be IDPs, especially in normally nomadic societies where there is much seasonal migration for work?

Specific issues relating to education and emergency are:

Internal displacement exposes children to forced military recruitment; they may become direct targets in the conflict or be subject to unequal or biased educational service provision (Sri Lanka).

  • Refugees suddenly become a minority, with loss of status and position; there is lack of choice, including educational choice. Afghan refugees in Pakistan complain that they are given very little choice about where to live – the camps nearer Afghanistan cannot guarantee security, and food or shelter cannot be guaranteed in Peshawar. There are the well-documented issues of language and curriculum of their new schools, as well as problems of ‘return’. Afghan refugees in Pakistan for example are now being sent back, causing a highly uncertain situation for them with all this movement.
  • There is pressure on remaining schools after an emergency to accept more children, which means larger classes, therefore a decrease in quality and in drop-out for all children. ‘Hosting’ refugees amounts to an education emergency in affected communities, with jealousies and feelings that incomers drain resources or hold ‘our’ children back. Refugees may have services that the surrounding communities lack.
  • Children and families may move several times before settling in one place where they could stay more than six months. If they go to school, children drop out continuously when they cannot keep up or catch up. Older children may be forced to learn with younger children, to match their perceived learning levels, which cause distress and a lack of self-esteem. Security in the camps is a problem (see above), as is health, for example with cholera in Pakistan.
  • Relocated communities in the tsunami can suffer: in Sri Lanka, various buffer zones in the coastal areas were established to impose limits on where people could live after the tsunami, but some were far from the sea, and parents tend not to send children to school in these circumstances, as this could show acceptance of the unsatisfactory situation.
  • Refugee and IDP children may be more subject to abuse and trafficking; children living with ‘host’ families are more likely to be abused.
  • There can be drug and alcohol problems of parents (and children) in IDP camps.

3.1.3 Minority groups/caste/ethnicity

In all countries there are pre-existing patterns of social stratification based on ethnicity, caste, tribe or clan. These are highly linked to social class and socio-economic status. Emergencies will tend to mean that low status groups are further disadvantaged or discriminated against, as power to attract resources is not evenly distributed. Conflict may be between different ethnic groups, or with a majority group and there is rarely a win–win resolution of the conflict; even if the conflict is not directly related to ethnic or other status, as in natural disasters, the lack of capacity to claim rights and resources post-conflict means more polarization. Areas under conflict may find it more difficult to respond to natural disasters, as has been reported for reconstruction after the tsunami in LTTE-controlled areas of Sri Lanka. Recommendations for action suggest projects focusing on a specific group, e.g. safe play areas for children from a specific ethnic group, or education facilities for a specific religious group (Save the Children, 2008a), although there is a danger of focusing, say, on one caste which may cause attitudes to that group to harden.

3.1.4 Economically disadvantaged

Poverty on its own is not always a predictor of vulnerability, and clearly combines with other axes of disadvantage. Emergencies will highlight these. While homelessness in disasters can affect families in every economic stratum, their social capital becomes crucial, as does the network of relatives and friends who can provide support.

  • The poor are likely to have poorer quality housing, in poorer or lower lying land (or conversely in steep hills) which does not withstand floods, cyclones or earthquake; therefore they can be displaced or live in the open not near to a school. Animals too are not protected, and subject to loss. Food shortages are made worse by emergency, and may mean migration to urban areas to find work.
  • Rural children are more likely to be out of school, particularly when poor; natural disasters may mean that distances to the nearest school become even greater.
  • The rapid recent increase in food prices in Bangladesh and elsewhere has had an impact on school attendance, both because children have become hungry and less attentive and because parents have been less able to meet educational expenses. Parents have also been forced to cut back on the use of kerosene for night lighting thereby reducing the evening study period for students (Raihan, 2008).

3.1.5 The invisible

Children without a formal identity (estimated to be 50 million globally) are never registered and there-fore deprived of access to education. In emergencies, they have no claim to resources or proof of age when relocating. It is more difficult to resist recruitment into insurgent or security forces. Children of different ethnic groups may be deprived of nationality and identity.

  • Street children may come under the category of invisible, as they are harder to track and monitor, and also may not be in formal school. However, there is a debate as to whether they are particularly vulnerable during emergencies, as they are used to surviving, and have personal and social resources which the newly homeless do not have.
  • The out-of-school by definition tends to be more invisible. They are more vulnerable during emergencies, since, as in Sri Lanka, most of the educational and emergency provisions utilize schools, and the out-of-school tends to be invisible among service providers. The turning away of children in Afghanistan from orphanages, schools or projects can precipitate them being involved in the sex trade, as dancers or working with truck drivers.

3.1.6 Differently affected

This is a broad category of children who are differentially affected by emergency, or who have pre-existing conditions which may be exacerbated by emergency:

  • Those with disabilities. Those with physical and mental disabilities are less likely to survive a disaster. Special facilities or education are not always prioritized during emergencies. Schools that refuse to take children with disabilities in ‘normal’ times are even less likely to accept them after an emergency. Children may have been injured by landmines, and all need landmine education.
  • Traumatized children. Children experiencing conflict and witnessing the violent death of relatives and friends suffer a range of traumatic conditions. Children were scared of going back to schools after the tsunami, and even after four years were reported to be ‘very jumpy’ and emotionally unstable at school.
  • Orphans, especially where there is lack of social welfare support. Absence of orphanages may be a problem, or conversely orphanages may be a site for abuse or trafficking of children. Agencies such as UNICEF and World Education may be against the institutionalization of children, including orphans, and there can be lack of integration mechanisms and support.
  • Child-headed households. The child can be of either sex, but additional responsibilities (economic and caring) mean such children are unlikely to go to school.
  • Child soldiers and ex-combatants. Such children have not just lost schooling, but may be traumatized as well as stigmatized on their return. They may be placed in classes inappropriate to their age.
  • Drug users (living in badly bombed buildings in Kabul, for example). In the Maldives, there is strong social stigma against drugs and children will be expelled from school if caught with them. There are few rehabilitation centers or organizations to help them.
  • School failures. Those who were failures before an emergency often use the crisis as an excuse to drop out of school.
  • War children or ‘lost generation’ need to ‘catch up’ within rigid school systems which make this impossible. They may be jealous of the younger generation whose education was not disrupted, and fear the future.
  • Children in conflict zones. There may be security checkpoints preventing access to school (also for their teachers) and/or danger of mines.
  • Children of prisoners (criminal or political). These may suffer low esteem as well as economic hardship.
  • Children in detention centers and prisons themselves. UNESCO runs a de-institutionalization project in Afghanistan, which also includes children in and from orphanages.
  • Children of sex workers.
  • Children of the HIV affected and from homes where there are diseases such as leprosy.

3.2 Educational sites and personnel

Schools were destroyed. Schools (and colleges) can collapse in an earthquake and a hurricane in the worst case with students and teachers are still in them. In most of Nepal, a non- architectural and designing phase the presented seismic safety measures. National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) with a modification or restructuring of the school program, but can reach only a few.

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But in the actual school vulnerability of particular importance is the contract and the corruption of the materials used to make it easier to make the collapse of natural disasters to the schools. Do not let this corruption in Pakistan and China, is going on the list, and this sustained after a disaster or even. In Bangladesh, which has been identified (interview), “build back on the poor “instead of” build back better.” In China, the authorities have also asked the parents did not cause to complain about the building to ensure the death or injury of their children and financial incentives for them. Poor building standards of experience, but also on their return folded the school itself forms to create an emergency (Harber 2005) anxiety in the child and parents.

Schools as a refuge or a takeover of the internally displaced, disrupting education.

Built schools or on the ground that the social distance is an issue, renovated. If the site is in this sense are people died as a cemetery, still popular. As one respondent said: “The school is a graveyard it.”

Children do not go to school for fear of appearing recruited into armed groups, or to go on the road.

In the Maldives, an island, when the school was destroyed, and it was reported that sometimes reluctant to take on children in other islands of the school, while others welcome.

Child labor and domestic workers in their own home or in someone’s home is difficult to adapt to the standard items or in school. Older children can be destructive, is considered “cute” employees.

Temporary schools (even permanent) can move the missing girls and teachers sanitation special.

To form an important topic in the vulnerability of certain groups, the maintenance management systems and school officials. These are usually male-dominated groups, at least moderately high caste and socio – economic status. You are likely to be, during and after CIES EMERGEN the same group, it may be necessary to change the mindset so that they meet for the child or to seek an appropriate school concept. Now the question is, what incentives could make them to change this mindset. How can teacher’s high caste be persuaded to teach low caste children and interact? How can the person who convinced for the school management committee has been grant equitable distribution? One study examined community-based education system in Nepal, that the use of community based school improvement plan to bring elite processes, the process of creating incentives and equity. Strategy of “education” untouchables girls the opportunity to the majority of the population are less willing to tolerate a direct attack, but would under the heading (Gardner and Subrahmanian, 2005) to agree.

3.3 Multiple vulnerabilities

Although it is possible to a certain group or website, as can be seen above, two important questions are immediately clear: First, within and between the clusters they intersect in various ways, secondly , therefore it is difficult to around the “disadvantaged” or even draw “the most vulnerable” limit. It is commented on how to report in India, even if it is taken out of the equation of sex , the majority of the population is at risk. Caste is said to individual well over 50 % of the population affected , although there are exceptions, generally poor Dalits , disenfranchised , less educated , more abused . The vast majority of the population to be at risk if they are fragile along a parameter, they are more likely to have multiple vulnerabilities . Everyone has a different vulnerability so-called beam ” (Fluke, 2007), from a political, economic, social and ideological complex interactions. Practice of:

The third complex is the time – when they begin and end with emergencies (if they do), for those in danger? Vulnerable orphans temporarily take care of a family, but later at a loss and abandonment and exploitation of resources. Vulnerability often associated with children (Zelizer, 1994), perceived social “value” to work in practice or emergency emotionally as the context “victim”. This can dramatically change the changing social and economic priorities. Schools can a neutral body to maintain and improve the child’s “value” when their environment is sensitive.


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