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Elin Martinez

I am the Education Advocacy Advisor for Save the Children UK. I work with a team of education experts to ensure children enjoy their right to education, wherever they are (including in emergency situations) and whatever their background; advocating for children to enjoy a quality education that will give them the right skills. I have a legal background, with a focus on international humanitarian law and human rights. I've worked on human rights advocacy at an international level which gave me the great opportunity to work with community-based and faith-based groups to bring about positive change.


Syria: Losing Out On Education

Tuesday 4 June 2013 by Elin Martinez

In any humanitarian crisis, normality is the first victim; in a war zone, all ordinary needs are quickly engulfed by new imperatives: food, shelter, safety and basic health become paramount.

But these can’t be the only priorities. A child in a conflict zone or a refugee camp is still a child in need of an education. Yet funding for education at these times is always low and usually unpredictable. This is what has happened in Syria.

Yet we have to realise that unless we provide for their education, we are failing children and young people. Facing a humanitarian emergency is bad enough without losing any prospect of going to school.

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No teacher = no learning = no right to education

Wednesday 24 April 2013 by Elin Martinez

This week, the worldwide education community celebrates Global Action Week.

Together we are pushing for action on the urgent priority of guaranteeing that every child has a teacher. Without a critical investment in their teaching workforces, governments cannot not guarantee the right to a quality education for all children.

5.4 million teachers needed

The latest estimates suggest a 5.4 million teacher gap, concentrated across 112 countries.

By 2015, two million new posts need to be filled in order to cater for the expansion in enrolment, and a further 3.4 million posts must be filled to cover those who are retiring or leaving the profession.

I invite you to click through this map to find out how many children are being taught by each teacher.

In many countries, one teacher supervises an average of 40 children or more on a daily basis. In the case of the Central African Republic it is an average of 84.3 children per teacher.

Going beyond basic standards

Lower class sizes do not automatically lead to better quality education, but who can seriously think that when you have this many children in a room with one teacher, their learning is not being compromised?

The amazing thing about these statistics is that they are merely the number needed to achieve access goals.

How many trained teachers, with what level of training, are needed to ensure that 250 million primary school-aged children, who are at present not able to master even basic reading or writing, actually learn while in school and achieve good learning outcomes?

Tackling the ‘hidden exclusion’

As we outline in our report, ‘Ending the Hidden Exclusion: learning and equity in education post-2015’, the gap in learning outcomes is worryingly large, and widening in some cases, resulting in many children not gaining the basic skills they need in order to go on and access a wider education.

Tackling what we have termed ‘the hidden exclusion’ – that is, children who are in school but not learning the basics is essential to fulfilling the universal right to education.

Teachers are critical to addressing this. They are the most important resource to improve the learning which takes place in school.

Any changes in the way teachers are treated or prioritised in national education policies must reflect the fact that they require continuous training to help them develop their teaching skills.

Ensuring teacher quality

Of 100 countries with data on primary education, in 33 less than 75% of teachers were trained to the national standard. There is also huge disparity in the minimum requirements for primary school teachers.

It is crucial to ensure teachers become part of a professional workforce, with access to adequate quality training prior to entering the teaching profession, through pre-service training, and also during their whole career.

As the Global Monitoring Report team highlights this week, efforts need to be particularly targeted at teachers in the early grades, a vital time.

Additionally, it is crucial to provide greater recognition and professionalisation of early childhood education specialists, who may well have the highest impact on any child’s learning trajectory.

Every child needs a teacher

Finally, while narrowing the teacher gap, the huge task at hand will be to incentivise new and existing teachers to take up and remain in positions in poor, rural and fragile contexts.

Only then will governments successfully guaranteeing that every child has a teacher, and that every child is able to fulfil their right to education.

Mozambique: 50,000 girls rising through education

Thursday 14 February 2013 by Elin Martinez

Today, around the world, it’s hoped that one billion girls, boys, women and men, will join the one billion rising campaign –a global, connected movement to end violence, rape and abuse against girls and women.

This represents a global outcry to bring an end to behaviours that affect one in three girls and women on a daily basis.

Today, the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, as well as the UK’s Minister for International Development, Lynne Featherstone, launched the Girls Education Challenge Fund – an initiative to ensure over 670,000 girls are able to rise in 22 countries.

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Improving education: the value of good teachers

Thursday 29 November 2012 by Elin Martinez

It’s a cliché, but true that we all remember our best teachers. They inspire, change lives and are the bedrock of any good school. Any comparison between school systems which perform well for their children and those systems which struggle, points to the central importance of who stands in front of pupils day-in-day-out.

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Emergencies: hitting education hard

Friday 2 November 2012 by Elin Martinez

It’s hurricane, cyclone, flood and storm season around the world. Hurricane Sandy has attracted most of the attention given the impact it’s had in the United States and the Caribbean.

However, it’s the peak season for natural disasters in many other countries too; Southern and South-East Asian countries have been responding to natural disasters on an almost monthly basis.

Whenever disasters strike, all children, no matter where, are vulnerable. But there’s an obvious inequality in a child’s chances of going back to school.

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Education First: our next global agenda

Friday 28 September 2012 by Elin Martinez

There was a lot of excitement on Wednesday when the UN Secretary General launched Education First, the UN’s five-year initiative aimed at reinvigorating the education goals that have long been forgotten globally, and moving forward beyond 2015.

The launch of Education First is a key moment for all of us working on education. Amid the excitement on Wednesday, many in the room had a sense of caution. Is this initiative really going to be the platform to drive the energy we are urgently in need of to secure every child their right to education?

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Education cannot wait: move into action now

Wednesday 26 September 2012 by Elin Martinez

Yesterday, together with UNICEF, the Global Partnership on Education, UNESCO, the UN Special Envoy for Education and the governments of Norway and Denmark, we managed to get an endorsement from key leaders, states, UN representatives and the private sector on the way forward to uphold the right to education in emergencies and conflict.

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We cannot allow education to be neglected

Tuesday 7 August 2012 by Elin Martinez

Today we’re launching another report reinforcing our call to ensure resilience is a cornerstone of any solutions to end recurrent slow-onset emergencies. ‘A creeping crisis’ focuses on what’s happening to children and their education across the Sahel and east Africa. It shows that the knock-on effects of drought and malnutrition permeate all aspects of children’s lives, with a huge impact on education and long-term development prospects.

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Children are Rwanda’s arms

Thursday 26 April 2012 by Elin Martinez

We’re half-way through the Global Action Week on Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), and I’ve been to a number of campaigning events aimed at raising parental awareness of the importance of the early years and encouraging them to send their children to ECCD centres. Communities have also had the chance to to find out Rwanda’s plans for the youngest children – the arms of Rwanda according to a local song.

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Global Action Week: rights from the start

Tuesday 24 April 2012 by Elin Martinez

Today marks the official beginning of the Global Action Week on Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) – ‘Rights from the Start’. A child’s first days, months and years – from before birth until the age of eight – are crucial. Focusing on those years is vital to guarantee that a child survives beyond the age of five and develops fully. Ultimately, this period will shape the rest of their childhood, adolescence and adult life.

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