Time is of the essence for Education Cannot Wait

Originally posted by the Global Partnership for Education

When it comes to educating children living amidst a humanitarian crisis, there’s no time to waste.

The dislocation, chaos and personal tragedies they and their families face make it difficult to get the schooling they need, when they need it.

Considering that, on average, conflicts in low-income countries last about 12 years and displacement due to protracted crises can drag on for 17 years, children caught in the maelstrom of natural disaster, war, health emergencies or breakdown of governance can miss out on all or most of the education they need to live prosperous, peaceful and healthy lives.

That’s why efforts to get the new Education Cannot Wait fund off the ground are moving with unprecedented speed and urgency.

Those involved with making the fund operational (GPE is one of its active partners) are acutely conscious that, currently, more people have been driven from their homes worldwide than since World War II, according the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and approximately 75 million children (aged 3 to 18) are out of school in 35 crisis-affected countries.

Formally unveiled in May at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the ECW fund is on track to receive country proposals for its initial investments, announce grants for three or four applicants by mid-September and begin on-the-ground implementation of that support shortly thereafter.

While the ECW secretariat is being established, dedicated teams support UNICEF as the interim host,  working at Olympic speed to establish the administrative, policy making and advocacy functions that the fund will need to operate efficiently and effectively and fulfill its objectives. Even the nimblest of Silicon Valley start-ups would struggle to move at such a pace.

Breakneck, breakthrough fundraising

The fund’s High-Level Steering Group (which includes GPE Board Chair Julia Gillard as one of its members) is also moving rapidly to raise a first-year budget of US$150 million, paving the way to secure a projected need of approximately US$3.8 billion and reaching more than 34 million children over five years.

The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Commission, the Netherlands and Norway have already made commitments, contributing to reaching that first-year budget.

After a summer of appeals and outreach to multiple other donors by the five anchor funders and by the High-Level Steering Group, there will likely be more pledges by September.

A number of those prospective pledges could come from donors that have not historically contributed to global education. Shocked by the enormity of the current global refugee crisis and other humanitarian tragedies, many are considering drawing from their humanitarian assistance budgets to specifically support education, recognizing the importance of the sector to provide more stable and prosperous societies. The Fund is also reaching out to leading private sector entities – foundations and corporations – for support.

That’s a big and critical breakthrough. The global education sector has had good success over the last decade and a half getting many of the easiest-to-reach children into school.

The task for the next decade and a half is to solve a much more stubborn problem: providing education for the hardest to reach and the vast number of children suffering from humanitarian crises – close to 30% of the 263 million primary and secondary school age children and youth who are currently out of school.

The fund therefore has the potential to focus more desperately needed resources on this huge challenge and to bring us closer to achieving the international community’s vision of inclusive and equitable quality education for all.

A bridge between humanitarian aid and traditional development

Because education has too often been a low priority for humanitarian funding (less than 2% of humanitarian aid goes to education), the fund thus has the potential to break down the historical barriers between humanitarian and traditional development support for education and create a bridge between emergency assistance and development.

In a combined effort with different partners, the fund will also be able help to secure more predictable support especially in protracted crisis situations.

And GPE, which devoted more than 60% of its 2015 program implementation grants to fragile and conflict-affected countries and supports education in both crisis and traditional development contexts, is well positioned to strengthen this bridge between the two.

The Education Cannot Wait fund is also reinforcing efforts by GPE and other global education groups in recent years to demonstrate how education is an essential precursor to progress in other development sectors, such as health, economic development, improvement of girls’ and women’s wellbeing and conflict reduction.

The pressure is high and the time short for everyone involved with getting the new fund off the ground. But the clock ticks loudly and inexorably for children tragically upended by humanitarian crisis. They cannot wait years to be educated, and the need is too great to put off again. For their sake, and the world’s, we, too, must move quickly and decisively.

By Charles Tapp, Manager, Partnerships and External Relations, Global Partnership for Education.

The Life-Saving Power of Education – World Humanitarian Day

By Brenda Haiplik, Senior Education Advisor (Emergencies), UNICEF

When some people think of a humanitarian emergency response, they think of what they deem “life-saving” services – like food, shelter, water and sanitation. But just as life-saving for children, particularly in the longer term, is education.

At UNICEF we have hundreds of education specialists working in the most difficult circumstances to try and get children the basic education they need and ensure that even when formal schooling is interrupted, children don’t miss out on learning.

From my work in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Iraq, I’ve seen firsthand the impact education has had on the lives of children caught up in violent conflicts. Education provides hope, stability, and sense of normalcy. It’s what children and their families ask for first after a crisis, and as we found during UNICEF’s Learning for Peace programme, education key to providing the skills and knowledge that allows communities to rebuild peaceful societies.

I recently spent time in Erbil, Iraq, where we were close to the front lines. The war in Iraq has had a devastating impact on the education system and millions of children are out of school. Almost 1 in 3 children need humanitarian assistance. Daily reports showed vulnerable Iraqis being internally displaced and on the move, fleeing renewed fighting. Working there we had to be creative and thoughtful about when and where to open learning spaces to best fit this moving population.

In March 2016 the UNICEF team in Iraq mobilized education and WASH partners and contractors and in less than a week set up 11 tented classrooms in a temporary school. When UNICEF visited the camp in early April, this temporary school had over 1,100 primary students. There was a lot of positivity in the classrooms – children reported they felt ready for their examinations coming up in May.

Without this response these kids would have missed out on learning for another school year. In a place like Iraq, that year can change the course of their lives.

Around the same time as our children in Iraq were sitting their exams, world leaders were in Istanbul recognizing the life-saving powers of education and launching the Education Cannot Wait fund. This Fund aims to reach the 75 million children around the world who are in desperate need of our educational support due to conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies.

Focusing on the needs of children in crisis areas, where education is often directly under attack, is crucial to achieving the global Sustainable Development goals – particularly Goal 4 – ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. This includes children and young people, displaced within their own countries as well as children forced to flee their homes and become refugees.

Without reaching these children we risk losing a generation of young people. We know the equitable delivery of education can transform not just their individual lives, but also the shape of their societies.

So as we celebrate World Humanitarian Day, we applaud the tireless efforts of all those providing education for children in the world’s most challenging environments, and reiterate our commitment to getting safe, quality and inclusive education to every child.

We cannot afford to wait.



Education Interrupted: Why Education of Children Affected by Emergencies and Protracted Crises Cannot Wait

Originally posted by The Institute of International and European Affairs

Emergencies and protracted crises, such as the current migration crisis, are disrupting the opportunities for education of an estimated 75 million children and youth across 35 countries.

UNICEF Associate Director for Education Josephine Bourne discussed the importance of investing in innovative strategies needed to meet the educational needs of these children, at a special event hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs and Irish Aid.

Ms. Bourne also introduced the first global fund to prioritise education in humanitarian action, Education Cannot Wait: A Fund for Education in Emergencies, which was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.

Watch her full presentation below.


This year the Global Citizen Festival, featuring performances from Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Kendrick Lamar, Metallica and many more, is calling on world leaders to support education for children in crisis.

With growing conflicts and natural disasters, humanitarian crises are devastating communities from Nepal and Equator to Syria and South Sudan. Children are impacted the most, forced to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere. Educating these children is the first step towards lifting them out of trauma and helping them to rebuild their future and their communities. Today, more than 75 million children around the world are in desperate need of our educational support.

The Global Citizen Festival, an annual live concert and advocacy event, is calling on world leaders to deliver education to the world’s most vulnerable children and youth. The Festival provides a platform to hold leaders accountable on commitments to solve the world’s biggest issues and support meaningful change in the lives of people living in extreme poverty worldwide. Tickets to the Festival cannot be bought, but are earned by those who take actions on our key issues in the lead up to the concert in New York on 24 September.

This year, the Festival’s fifth, sees the launch of the Festival’s education campaign Action Journey. The Action Journey will ask existing and new global citizens, fans and activists to earn tickets for the Festival by completing actions that help promote and ensure free, equitable and quality learning is available to all, particularly children and young adults affected by conflict and crisis.

Global Citizens are reaching out to world leaders from France, Switzerland, Canada, Kuwait, Finland, Germany and Denmark and asking them to commit to the Education Cannot Wait Fund, ensuring crisis-affected children and youth do not miss out on the skills they need to lead safe and prosperous lives.

Education Cannot Wait, is an innovative fund that aims to better coordinate support for, and drive investment in, education for children and youth affected by emergencies and protracted crises. It is the first global fund to prioritise education in humanitarian action and is groundbreaking in its collaborative approach to make sure every crisis-affected child and young person is in school and learning.

In addition Global Citizens will be asked to tell the Education Commission to prioritise children in emergencies, as part of its report on education financing, as well as to make sure young people have a say in education decision-making and policy.

Another action involves tweeting at Foreign Ministers from the Republic of Korea and Nigeria to support the Girls’ Education Action Statement, launched by the UK Department for International Development at a Global Citizen event in London on 7 July, to make sure that disadvantaged and marginalised girls and women are not left behind and can fulfill their potential by completing secondary school.

Global Citizens will also be asked to call and write to members of the US Congress to encourage them to increase funding to the Global Partnership for Education and to co-sponsor the Education for All Act, which promotes universal basic education for children around the world. Last, but not least, we will ask top US universities and some of the biggest corporations such as Microsoft and Western Union to fund education for children in need, including through Education Cannot Wait and other innovative solutions.

Since 2012, Global Citizens have taken nearly 6.3 million actions – from petitions and tweets, phone calls and emails, to attending rallies and volunteering – to pressure world leaders to enact major policy changes and commit significant resources, to global education, innovation and policy reform.

The actions culminate in the concert in Central Park, New York City, on 24 September. The event will be hosted by Chelsea Handler, Neil Patrick Harris, Deborra-Lee and Hugh Jackman, and this year’s line-up will also feature appearances from Chris Martin, Ellie Goulding and Usher amongst others.

The 2016 Festival will be supported by key partners such as MSNBC & Comcast NBC Universal, Chime for Change, Caterpillar, Citi, Clear Channel Outdoor, iHeart, Johnson & Johnson, Google’s Made with Code, YouTube, Live Nation, and NYC Parks.

The Education Action Journey will be a timely opportunity to make sure that education in emergencies is front of mind for world leaders ahead of the Migration Summit and President Obama’s Leader’s Summit on Refugees during the 2016 UN General Assembly.

Take action now: go to globalcitizen.org/en/festival/2016/education/

Madge Thomas
Deputy Director, Global Policy and Advocacy
Global Citizen