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Fall 2016

Ambassador Edition

Shut Out of School Disasters are keeping millions of children from an education. Find out why, and how they are getting help.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Map of Global Emergencies page 3 Anhal's #YouthTakeover of Twitter page 4 Your Turn to ACT page 8 Extra: Poison in the Pipes page 7

FA LL 2016

Education Emergencies


Countries In Crisis


#YouthTakeover 4 The Right To Learn


Emergency In Ecuador


Poison in The Pipes


Kids Helping Kids: Kevin Huo 8

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries to help kids survive and grow. UNICEF supplies medicines, vaccines, clean water, nutrition, education, and more. UNICEF also responds during emergencies, such as earthquakes, floods, or war. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF raises awareness and funds in the United States to support UNICEF’s lifesaving work.


utumn has arrived, and you’re settling into a new school year. But millions of students around the world aren’t returning to their classrooms. They have been shut out of school by crises and disasters. Nearly one in four children—almost half a billion kids—lives in a country affected by crisis. Violence, poverty, disease, and natural disasters have made it difficult for 75 million of them to get an education. Here are some examples: n In the Middle Eastern country of Syria, a brutal civil war has destroyed entire neighborhoods. About 2.1 million Syrian kids are not attending school. Another 2.5 million are living as refugees in nearby countries. n A major food shortage in Venezuela, South America, is forcing students and teachers to miss school as they wait on long lines for food. n Last April, a deadly earthquake in Ecuador, also in South America, damaged more than 500 schools. n About a year earlier, an earthquake in Nepal, a mountainous country in Asia, destroyed more than 5,000 schools. n The West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea were struck by a disease called Ebola in 2014 and 2015. Schools had to close to help stop the

disease from spreading. n Nigeria, another African nation, is suffering from attacks on schools by Boko Haram, a terrorist group that is against Western-style education. It has forced about 1,500 schools to close. n In the European country of Ukraine, more than one in five schools have been damaged by ongoing violence. Fighting between groups loyal to Russia and those who want Ukraine to remain a sovereign country has created this crisis. To address these problems, UNICEF and other world aid and humanitarian groups recently launched the Education Cannot Wait Fund. This program works to ensure that children in crisis situations don’t lose precious schooltime. “Children don’t need education even in emergencies,” says UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “They need education especially in emergencies.” n


We’ve taken boldface words from the story above and matched them with three terms. One term in each row is not related to the boldface word. Circle that term in each row.

UNICEF ACT is a publication of TeachUNICEF, the Education Department of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Visit for additional resources. Written by Clara Colbert, edited by POE Communications COVER PHOTO: © UNICEF/ UNI190222/BINDRA; INSET PHOTO: ©ANHAL

In Guinea, students’ temperatures are taken. To help stop the spread of Ebola, anyone with a fever over 100.4° F is not allowed in school.


A    civil war

global internal within factions

B    refugee

migrant evacuee resident displaced

C    terrorist

radical assassin violent diplomatic

D    sovereign


UNICEF ACT n Fall 2016

independent oppressed self-governing Ambassador Edition



Education Emergencies

Countries in Crisis

This map shows some of the countries in which kids are missing out on education because of various types of emergencies. Look the map over carefully. Then answer the questions below. Asia


North America

Europe Syria





South America

Sierra Leone



Ecuador Conflict/Violence


Natural Disaster/Climate Emergency Disease/Health Emergency Poverty Note: The color coding on this map reflects one major challenge for each country, but there may be other factors affecting access to education.

1 Which two of the four types of emergencies are caused mainly by human behavior? In which two types would the emergency be due to acts of nature? 2 The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea. What conclusion can you draw about the disease based on the affected countries on the map? 3 Sometimes one emergency can be the cause of other problems. Pick one country on the map, and discuss how the emergency it is dealing with might lead to another of the four types of emergencies.

A more detailed map naming more than 30 countries with education crises can be found at

Ambassador Edition

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A Syrian teen refugee tweets on UNICEF's account, worrying about losing days at school— and his future


nhal remembers the day in 2012 that he, his mother, and two sisters fled the civil war in Syria. He was 12. “We could hear gunfire and bombs getting closer by the day,” he recalls. Anhal’s family traveled toward Syria’s border by van, then walked for two hours. When it was dark, they crossed into Jordan. Eventually, they came to the Za’atari refugee camp, a sprawling mass of shelters that is home to nearly 80,000 Syrians seeking safety. Anhal is one of approximately 13.5 million Syrians forced to flee their homes since the war began in 2011. About 8.7 million Syrians found refuge within Syria. Another 4.8 million have fled to Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, and Lebanon. One million people have requested asylum in Europe. To help spread the word about what refugee families are going through, UNICEF gave Anhal and three other teens access to the organization’s Twitter account. They discussed missing home, family worries, losing out on education, and more. Here are some of Anhal’s tweets.

At first, Anhal could not attend classes at all.


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Anhal at Za'atari refugee camp

Eventually, his father enrolled him in a local school.

Now, Anhal is at the top of his class and loves his math, science, and geography classes.

Anhal worries about the future of Syrian kids: Over 2 million children inside Syria are not in school.

Anhal ended his Twitter takeover with a plea, asking world leaders and fellow young people to get involved.

Read more UNICEF teen tweets at

Brainstorm ways your life would be different if you couldn’t attend school for a year. Write a brief essay describing the effect you think it would have on you and your community. Ambassador Edition

The Right to Learn Every child has a right to an education. In countries dealing with crises, school helps children’s lives return to normal.


s These Ukrainian teen their receive counseling at cope school to help them ar. with the trauma of w

Laxmi, 16, was one of the 100,000 kids whose education was interrupted after Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake. Laxmi and her classmates helped build their new makeshift schoo l.

An Ebola outbreak in Guinea, West Africa, kept students and teachers out of school for months. To help kids catch up, government and aid organizations—including UNICEF—developed a radio series so students could hear lessons at home.

Ambassador Edition

UNICEF ACT n Fall 2016


Emergency in Ecuador

When disaster strikes, UNICEF helps kids get back to school quickly.

A boy walks over rubble created by the 2016 earthquake in Ecuador.


Children play in a tent being used as a temporary shelter and learning space following the 2016 earthquake in Ecuador

ays after a normal routine and a massive seeing their friends. earthquake Getting them back to rocked school quickly helps Ecuador on April them return to a 16, 2016, UNICEF’s normal kid’s life. You Michael Sandler was don’t want them to Michael Sandler on the scene. “It was fall behind by days or U.S. Fund for like a war zone,” he UNICEF months.” says. “Fires had started, The UNICEF schools and other buildings were team in Ecuador helped create knocked down.” The quake killed temporary classrooms in huge 670 people and injured over 4,800 canvas tents. “We fill them up others. More than 560 schools with blue plastic desks, Schoolwere damaged or destroyed. in-a-Box kits, and materials UNICEF quickly dispatched to decorate the walls,” Sandler a team to help set up temporary notes. Each UNICEF Schoolschools with bathrooms and in-a-Box kit is loaded with access to clean, fresh water. classroom supplies for 40 Getting students back to school students. The portable aluminum is always a top priority, Sandler box can be used anywhere and is explains. “Kids want to get back to designed to help students return the schedule of school, to having to learning within 72 hours.


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Inside are skills books, pencils, scissors, and other basic supplies. The lid on top of the kit can be used as a chalkboard. Bring Back Happiness “Kids have special needs after a disaster,” Sandler says. “Their normal life is gone. They have seen so many scary things.” A UNICEF program called Return to Happiness helps children cope with the trauma by allowing them to express their feelings through art, music, and games.

School-in-a-Box kit for one teacher and 40 students Ambassador Edition


As part of the program, UNICEF trains teenagers to help teach younger children. Sandler was moved by the teens’ resilience and empathy: “I was so amazed by the older children who were so eager to help the younger ones. [It] was incredible to see … their ability to bounce back so quickly and their optimism.” Sandler says Ecuador’s recovery will take time. “Those 560 schools are not going to be replaced overnight. … It might take months or a year.” In addition to providing on-theground support, UNICEF also helps raise money to help the government of Ecuador rebuild.

After the earthquake in Ecuador, children participate in art projects

Sandler is upbeat about Ecuador's future. “It’s an opportunity to improve things, to

make schools better than they were before. We want to make longlasting change to benefit children.” n

Closer to Home: Poison in the Pipes Gulp! Some kids in the United States are facing a dangerous water crisis. Many water supplies in American schools are contaminated with lead, an element that is harmful to animals and people, particularly kids. Scientists say that children exposed to lead can develop severe health and learning problems. In Flint, Michigan, the situation is so bad that U.S. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency. The government offered federal funds to help Flint fix its tainted water supply. The problems began when the city switched its source of water to the Flint River. The river’s water is polluted and corrosive, so it ate away at old lead pipes. That caused lead to leach into the water of homes and schools. Michigan’s government has since switched Flint’s water source and is working to replace the old pipes. Flint’s water is now safe for cleaning and bathing, but not for drinking. Most people there are drinking bottled water. The crisis in Flint cast attention on lead in water supplies around the country. Cities in Georgia, Ambassador Edition

Protestors demand clean water outside of City Hall in Flint, Michigan.

Ohio, Maryland, and California, among others, have stepped up efforts to test water supplies and replace old lead pipes in schools. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps over the years to limit the amount of lead in tap water. However, no state or federal rules currently require schools on city water systems to test for lead.

TAKE ACTION Write a letter to your school board asking if the water in your school has been tested for lead.

UNICEF ACT n Fall 2016


We Took the Pledge

Clubs at my school stood up for education for everyone

rowing up in an Asian-American family, I was taught that education paves the way to success. This got me wondering: Does everyone have the same access to education that I do? From news stories and membership in my school’s UNICEF club, I learned that many children, especially girls, are denied even a basic education. Starting with my local community, I embarked on a journey to make other people aware of this issue. My UNICEF club launched a monthlong collaboration with our school’s other humanitarian group, the Girl Up Club, which works to empower girls around the world

in partnership with the United Nations. To spread the word, we created banners and posters. We also took an oath: “I pledge to stand up against unequal opportunities, to support girl’s education, to fight for equality.” We then hosted a showing of “He Named Me Malala,” a documentary film about Malala Yousafzai. She is the Pakistani teenager who survived being shot by militants for standing up for girls’ right to go to school. Malala won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work. About 25 students, teachers, and community members came to our showing of the film. Watching the movie sparked a discussion. Hold a fundraiser to support education for kids in emergencies. Visit and for ideas on how to get involved. n Take part in a UNICEF social media campaign to show how important school is to you. Use the hashtag #EmergencyLessons, and call out @UNICEF. n Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF this Halloween and collect n

Plan your own screening of a film that explores gender equality in education, such as “He Named Me Malala,” “Girl Rising,” or “To Educate a Girl.” n Write to your member of Congress and ask him or her to vote for the Education for All Act of 2016. Learn more at n


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Kevin Huo (far right) with other UNICEf club members

We asked, “What are some ways to work together to allow education for all?” Many kids weren’t aware of the problems children face. I think our efforts helped change the perspectives of students who previously had taken their educations for granted. Children around the world are in dire need of our support. As Malala says, “One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” n Kevin Huo is a 12th grader at San Mateo High School in California and president of the school's UNICEF Club.

donations, big and small, that add up to lifesaving change for children.



By Kevin Huo

Ambassador Edition

Shut Out of School, Ambassador Edition  

Millions of children are losing out on their education. Find out why -- and how you can help.

Shut Out of School, Ambassador Edition  

Millions of children are losing out on their education. Find out why -- and how you can help.