The school bell that no longer rings

For millions of children, education is a right denied by wars and poverty. From Ukraine to Yemen, from the drought-stricken Horn of Africa to Afghanistan, where the Taliban deny girls education, an entire generation of young people has stopped going to school. All too often, in crisis situations, education is among the first services to be suspended and among the last to be resumed.

Alessandro Gisotti

How many emotions these days with final exams. For those who experience them as a protagonist, but also for those who have lived them many years before and punctually, at this time of year, go back to the experience that represented a fundamental step on the journey towards adulthood, the crucial choices . For two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, high school exams in Italy have been interrupted by the cancellation of the written tests. Instead, they returned this year – not without some controversy from some student groups – to emphasize the drive towards a return to normalcy. On the other hand, there is a strong desire in children, as in teachers, to regain a space that has been abruptly compressed and “freezes” the very juice of the educational process: relationality. In fact, there can be no authentic education without “a harmony between head, heart and hands” to take up the effective image that Pope Francis has used so many times.

Therefore, if half a million young Italians relive – in the midst of fear and hope, as it was for all their peers in recent years – the written tests at the end of the school year, there will be millions (over 58 according to Unicef) children instead and young people in the world that they can no longer go to school because they no longer have a school, destroyed by a bombing, or because they no longer have teachers “engulfed” by more or less forgotten conflicts, conditions of extreme poverty or those in power ideology.

Since February 24, an entire generation of young Ukrainians has had to stop going to school classes. For them, the bell no longer rings. The schools, those that have still not been destroyed by the Russian army offensive, which did not spare even the school buildings, have been transformed into temporary shelters. Classes become “home”, another sign of the disorder caused by the madness of war. No one knows when these schools will be able to return to regain their nature and accomplish their mission. “Although it is a top priority for children and parents in crisis – he remarked bitterly Save the kids about the Ukrainian conflict all too often it is the first service that is suspended and one of the last that is resumed ”. Unfortunately, Syrian children, from Yemen and many other countries, are well aware of this, outraged by internal wars that have dragged on for years, from which the “best years” have been taken away, those where one should develop without trauma. their own personality.

Wars, but not only. In the Horn of Africa, which has been hit by a drought – the worst in 40 years – water shortages have forced many schools to close. And where they have not closed, many children have left school in search of work to help their families, who are increasingly suffering from a devastating famine. Once again, it is the weakest, those who have less means to defend themselves to suffer the harmful consequences of climate change, which some still persist in not recognizing as an emergency to be resolved without delay for the benefit of humanity . “In fact – wrote the pope in Laudato si ‘ already 7 years ago – the deterioration of the environment and the deterioration of society affect the weakest on the planet in a special way: ‘Both the ordinary experience of ordinary life and scientific research show that they suffer the most serious consequences of all environmental attacks, they poorest people “.

And since August last year, Afghan girls expelled from the Taliban regime have no longer gone to school in the name of a fanatical ideology that wants to erase all female public utterances and refer women to a state of subhumanity. Under pressure from the international community, the Taliban pledged to repeat girls in high schools from March 23. Unfulfilled promise. For almost a year, therefore, Afghan girls have not been able to educate themselves except in a secret way and risk threats, atrocities and even their lives for this “act of rebellion”. The video of a little girl backpacking on her shoulder crying in despair because she was thrown out of school and sent home went around the world. His fault”? To be a woman. “Extremists are afraid of books and pens,” said Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai. “They are terrified of the power of education.” A power that liberates people and can change the world.

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