Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises.
ECW was established during the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to help reposition education as a priority on the humanitarian agenda, usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground and foster additional funding to ensure that every crisis-affected child and young person is in school and learning.
Based on the recognition that continuous access to quality learning is a priority for children and families affected by conflicts, natural disasters and displacement and that no organisation can do it alone, ECW comes as a ground-breaking initiative bringing together public and private partners eager to work together differently and mobilise the funding required to deploy immediate and sustainable programmes tailor-made to the educational needs of these children.
ECW’s mandate is articulated around five core functions:
- Inspire political commitment so that education is viewed by both governments and funders as a top priority during crises.
- Generate additional funding to help close the $8.5 billion funding gap needed to reach 75 million children and youth.
- Plan and respond collaboratively, with a particular emphasis on supporting programmes that enable humanitarian and development actors to work together on shared objectives.
- Strengthen capacity to respond to crises, nationally and globally, including the ability to coordinate emergency support.
- Improve accountability by developing and sharing knowledge, including collection of more robust data in order to make better-informed investment decisions, and knowledge of what works and does not.
ECW is a first-of-its kind fund that offers governments, multilateral institutions and the private sector the chance to finance comprehensive education programmes for children and youth affected by conflicts, natural disasters and displacement, right from the onset of crisis through recovery phases.
ECW’s First Emergency Response investment window supports education programmes immediately in sudden-onset or escalating crises. The fund’s Multi-Year Resilience investment window addresses longer-term needs through multi-year joint programmes in protracted crises, enabling humanitarian and development actors to work together on delivering collective education outcomes in five priority areas:
- Access: Ensure that crisis-affected children are provided with continuous quality learning
- Equity and Gender Equality: Leave no one behind and ensure access is provided to the most vulnerable children, including girls and children with disabilities
- Continuity: Ensure children stay in school until they complete their education
- Protection: Make sure that schools and learning centres offer a safe, protective and healing environment to crisis-affected children
- Quality: Improve learning outcomes by focusing on curriculum, teachers’ capacities and learning materials
By providing seed funding to develop and implement such programmes through selected partners, ECW aims to catalyse broader investments from global and in-country donors in education in emergencies. ECW’s third window of investment, the Acceleration Facility, supports research and data collection, advancing best practices and promoting innovation, learning outcomes and gender-targeted interventions in education in emergencies.
Additional information on ECW’s mandate, investments modalities and strategic objectives and results framework is available in our ECW Strategic Plan 2018-2021.
ECW is reaching more than 650,000 children and youth with quality education – of which 310,000 girls – in 14 crisis-affected countries.
In its first year of operations – i.e. as of 31 March 2018 – ECW has invested $81 million in 14 crisis-affected countries. These include 10 First Emergency Response allocations to countries facing sudden-onset or escalating crises, as well as the 4 countries targeted by ECW’s 2-year Initial Investments programmes. So far, ECW investments are supporting quality education for more than 650,000 children and youth (48 per cent girls). These among the most vulnerable, excluded and hard-to-reach children and youth on the globe, including refugees, displaced and host communities, girls and adolescent women in emergencies and the disabled.
ECW-supported programmes span a wide spectrum of context-specific activities designed to meet education needs for crises-affected children and youth aged 3-18 years old. These include the provision of learning materials and psychosocial support, school and classroom equipment and infrastructure, teachers’ training and support as well as non-formal education programs and promoting peace and social cohesion among students. ECW-supported programmes are implemented through 42 implementing partners at country-level (as of 31 March), including UN agencies, international and national NGOs.
The 2015 Oslo Summit on Education for Development urged governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), foundations, the private sector, academia and the civil society to mobilise collective action and more funding for education in emergencies. Two months later at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, Member States reiterated their commitment to SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all children and youth.
The following year, under the UN Secretary-General’s leadership and through a series of reforms to humanitarian funding known as the Grand Bargain, the World Humanitarian Summit called for a new way to address emergencies and protracted crises through better collaboration and coordination between humanitarian and development actors, increased and more flexible funding, less bureaucracy, national ownership and a more holistic approach that addresses both immediate and long-term needs, leaving no one behind.
Education Cannot Wait, launched during the Summit, is a direct response to that call by offering an agile, inclusive platform and pooled funds for state and non-state actors and donors to join forces, at both global and local levels, to support education in emergencies with humanitarian speed and development depth.
Secretariat and Governance
Education Cannot Wait uses a flexible and adaptable approach to both governance and operations to ensure that lessons learnt can inform the fund’s approaches in best mobilizing partners and addressing the educational needs of crisis-affected children.
ECW’s day-to-day work is managed by a Secretariat that is hosted and administered within UNICEF as the initiative is incubating and scaling up. A High-Level Steering Group provides overall strategic direction and is comprised of partner organisations, including heads of government and senior ministers from crisis-affected and donor countries, as well as heads of multilateral agencies, NGOs and foundation.