Read the stories of Candida, Shingai and Paolo, three students whose access to education has been challenged by the impacts of climate change in their countries, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Vanuatu.
2019 was a devastating year for Mozambique as two back-to-back cyclones—Idai and Kenneth—hit the central and northern parts of the country.
Weather catastrophes are not uncommon in Mozambique; however, this was the first time in recorded history that two strong tropical cyclones had hit the country in such a short period of time. Overall, the country lost (totally or partially) 4,222 classrooms, interrupting the education of hundreds of thousands of students.
GPE helped the government restore school access by rebuilding 600 classrooms and integrating disaster risk reduction into the reconstruction plans. The new school buildings are made to withstand future natural disasters.
While Candida’s school, Escola Primária Completa de Galinha, was being reconstructed, she and her peers learned in temporary tents. Upon seeing her rebuilt school for the first time, Candida beamed, “Tomorrow I’ll go to school. I’m going to eat, play and then study at the school, in a pretty classroom.”
With GPE's support, the government of Mozambique is ensuring children continue learning even when natural disasters strike.
Shingai from Zimbabwe: Learning in a safe school
Zimbabwe was hit hard by cyclone Idai in 2019–one of the worst tropical cyclones to have ever struck Africa and the southern hemisphere.
Unpreparedness combined with a lack of disaster risk reduction measures exacerbated the severity of damage to school infrastructure, which resulted in children missing out on their education.
GPE supported the government to build its capacity to effectively coordinate efforts and ensure learning does not stop even during emergencies.
139 damaged schools were rehabilitated, and many of the new classrooms are now accessible to children with mobility issues. Solar powered lamps were distributed to students to ensure they can study at night.
A school feeding program helped address reduced food security in the aftermath of the cyclone. These are some of the measures that have led to an increase in enrollment and attendance at the GPE-supported schools.
Despite enormous challenges, Shingai and his peers keep learning, and Zimbabwe’s education system is better prepared to withstand the negative effects of natural disasters.
Paolo from Vanuatu: A resilient education system
Paolo’s school was among the approximately 885 schools that were partly or entirely destroyed in 2020, when tropical cyclone Harold, the second most powerful cyclone on record to hit Vanuatu, made landfall.
Vanuatu is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country experiences earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, droughts and floods–constant threats to the continuity of education.
In the aftermath of cyclone Harold, Vanuatu was also dealing with the challenges posed by COVID-19, and GPE supported the government’s emergency response.
New water supply facilities safeguard students’ health, and new teaching and learning materials help keep education going. Paolo, along with children across Vanuatu, now have access to home-school packages to help them continue learning during school closures, and these materials have been adapted in Braille, large print and audio versions for children with disabilities.
As the country makes strides in building a resilient education system, teachers and schools are increasingly prepared to support students in the event of future crises.
Read also in this series:
- How Sierra Leone is betting on data to fight the impact of climate change on schools
- Framing the challenge: Education and the climate-environment emergency
- How can education systems rise up to the climate challenge?
- Carbon-smart schools mitigate climate change and improve learning
- What aspects of education are eligible for climate finance?
- How I fight climate change through education in Zambia
- 5 key takeaways from COP27 for the education movement