With an infinite curiosity and a predilection for voicing honest opinions, children tend to enjoy the mental exercise of ranking their favourite things. For the past two months, they were given the opportunity to watch short movies online and to vote on their preferences in the Takorama Film Festival, designed by the association Films pour enfants to engage children around the world with stimulating subjects and appealing animations.
This unique festival has accompanied children in various situations of COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing confinement, exposing them to artistic contributions which tackle solidarity, tolerance and respect for others - subjects which form an integral part of the work of Education for Justice, an initiative of UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration.
As the COVID-19 crisis may lead to an erosion of trust in public services and governments, urgent questions should also be asked about how measures to prevent its spread can adversely affect the rule of law and human rights. UNESCO and UNODC stress the importance of education which teaches awareness of human rights and ultimately helps build more equal, sustainable and inclusive societies and economies that are more resilient in the face of crisis.
As part of the Doha Declaration Education for Justice initiative, UNODC and the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens have announced that they will soon begin implementation of a new Women's Empowerment Programme (WEP) catering to young females from Latin America. The WEP, made possible thanks to generous support from the State of Qatar, will transform education policy into action in order to promote justice, the rule of law and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Programme will focus on training and equipping 20 young women from Latin American countries with the skill-set to act as SDG leaders within their fields of work. While all of the 17 SDGs provide the framework for the WEP, its focus will be on SDGs 4,5,16 and 17.
The lockdown has been difficult for most people, as the world adapts to the strict measures necessary to combat COVID-19. For children, the challenge is a big one as they find themselves suddenly unable to learn in the appropriate settings, or to run around outside with their friends. This situation becomes even more problematic when children are in particularly vulnerable circumstances, in need of humanitarian assistance and with few outlets to help them deal with the reality.
Several hundred children in Lebanon were pleasantly surprised this month when they discovered The Zorbs, the colourful alien characters helping young generations understand the values which help keep the world safe.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that has affected billions around the world and impacted all aspects of life and society. In the area of education, nearly 165 countries have implemented country-wide school and university closures, as indicated by the Secretary-General in his report 'Shared responsibility, global solidarity: responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 .' More than 1.5 billion children and youth are currently out of school or university, representing 87 per cent of the world's enrolled student population. In addition, over 60 million teachers are no longer in the classroom.
Responding to the global crisis, UNODC has launched the 'Lockdown Learners' series of online dialogues with students and educators in India on COVID-19 and its impact on SDGs, peace and the rule of law.