When conflict or crisis erupts, the educational needs of children and youth are often the last consideration – an afterthought following food, water, shelter and protection.
Right now, wars, natural disasters and other emergencies are multiplying throughout the world – more frequent, complex and disruptive than ever before. During these crises, children and youth frequently live in, or are displaced to contexts where governments cannot provide them with education services. In addition, education receives less than 2% of humanitarian aid, leaving an essential component of children’s future prospects underfunded and undervalued.
The result is that entire generations of children and youth are denied the right to an education.
More than 75 million children and young people (aged 3-18) are currently out of school in 35 crisis-affected countries. Girls are particularly disadvantaged, being 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys in countries affected by conflict.
This violates the rights of children and youth, increasing their risk of harm and leaving them exposed to threats of trafficking, child labour or child marriage. Fulfilling children’s right to be in school and learning helps to break the cycle of crises and delivers high economic and social returns.
Education cannot wait – 75 million futures depend on it.
The Case for Education
Equipped with the skills and knowledge that come with a quality education, crisis-affected children and young people are better able to seize economic opportunities and secure a decent livelihood when they grow up. They will become the doctors, teachers, architects and engineers that their countries need to build for the future. They will enjoy better health for themselves and their families and make stronger contributions to their communities and society.
Through the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals, governments have pledged that all of the world’s girls and boys will complete free, equitable and quality primary education by 2030. One of the core principles of the SDGs is to “…leave no one behind and to begin with those farthest behind”. This principle is also reflected in the Core Responsibilities of the United Nation’s Secretary General’s report, ‘One Humanity: Shared Responsibility’.
Finding a collaborative, global solution to deliver education to children and youth even in the toughest of circumstances will help us meet these goals.
The Main Challenges
- Lack of prioritisation: Despite being prioritized by children, youth and their families, education in emergencies is neglected in relief operations.
- Poor coordination: In many cases, there is a lack of coordination, planning and financing models between humanitarian and development agencies who are both providing education.
- Insufficient funding: Since 2010, less than 2% of humanitarian funding has been spent on education. $8.5 billion is needed annually to close this gap.
- Inadequate capacity: Efforts to build capacity have not kept pace with the needs, which undermines the predictability and timeliness of crisis response.
- Lack of real-time data: Limited analysis and ineffective use of data makes it difficult to communicate priorities and needs.
The Education Cannot Wait fund will transform the potential for delivering education in emergencies.
With such a large range of actors working on education response, significant gaps have appeared across the existing mechanisms. The fund and its resources will bring together and support these groups to deliver a more ambitious, joined-up response to deliver education support to the most vulnerable crisis-affected children and youth.
Crises that will be eligible for funding through the Education Cannot Wait include:
- Natural disasters that trigger formal humanitarian system responses
- Protracted crises that pose a risk to access to education
- Crises with large-scale displacement with affected host populations
- Crises that occur in low-income countries, as well as those in middle-income countries that have limited resource for financing and appropriate response