Support from Obama, Trudeau, Jensen & Rihanna

Now join 60,000 Global Citizens in showing your support for #EducationCannotWait

This weekend, New York’s Central Park will see tens of thousands of people come together to declare ‘Education Cannot Wait’ for 75 million children and youth. Living in the world’s most complex and dangerous places, their education has been disrupted due to violent conflict, natural disasters and other crises. World leaders have used the occasion of the 71st United Nations General Assembly to announce their firm commitment to reaching every crisis-affected child and young person with education by 2030.

In the New York Declaration, member states have emphasized that education is critical in helping to solve the global displacement crisis, starting that Access to quality education, including that for host communities, gives fundamental protection to children and youth in displacement contexts, particularly in situations of conflict and crisis.’

World leaders have voiced their strong support for Education Cannot Wait, as a collaborative platform to help implement the education-related commitments from both the New York Declaration and the Leader’s Summit. The Summit set a target of increasing the number of refugee children enrolled in school by 1 million and President Obama spoke directly about the importance of the fund –

“…we welcome efforts by UNICEF and the international community to establish Education Cannot Wait, the world’s first fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, championing children’s right to access education in the most complex and dangerous environments,”

President Barack Obama
Joint Statement on Leaders’ Summit on Refugees
Sept 20th 2016

General Assembly Seventy-first session: Opening of the General Debate 71Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged his country’s support, committing $15.3 million USD over the next two years to the Education Cannot Wait Fund to provide safe, quality learning for emergency-affected children and youth around the world.

denmark-ecwThe Minister of Foreign Affairs for Denmark, Kristian Jensen, announced $11.2 million USD . We must give children and young people in the surrounding areas meaningful content in their existence and a hope for a better future for them and their family. In this, education plays a very important role,” said the Minister.

Public support has been unprecedented – Rihanna has rallied her followers to demand ‘Education Cannot Wait’. Through her Instagram and Twitter accounts, Rihanna has asked her fans to phone the office of Justin Trudeau, and called on the French President, Francoise Holland to show his country’s support for the fund.

These commitments will be celebrated at the Global Citizen Concert Live on MSNBC and Youtube on Saturday, 24th September. Julia Gillard, Queen Rania and Salma Hayak will be among the personalities on stage. This year alone, Global Citizens have taken nearly 200,000 actions in support.

Stay tuned to learn about how you can show your support and hear more about the immediate impact the fund will have in the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children and youth.

Transforming the delivery of education in emergencies requires extraordinary levels of coordination from a wide range of people – this extraordinary effort is well under way.

The futures of the 75 million crisis-affected children and young people depends on it.

For Refugee Children, Education Cannot Wait

This blog was originally published the Huffington Post.

By Tanya Barron, OBE, CEO, Plan International UK

As world leaders gather in New York for the UN General Assembly and President Obama’s leaders’ summit on refugees, the refugee crisis continues to spiral.

Images of refugee children – drowned Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach, and more recently five year old Omran, injured in an airstrike in Aleppo, sitting bloodied in an ambulance – have rightly shocked and horrified the world.

Spurred to respond, governments have vowed to take action as public pressure mounted. Momentarily, sporadically, the media too has championed the rights of these children.

Yet, with wearisome inevitability, momentum has slowed, newer stories break, attention is diverted and images of child refugees are soon forgotten.

But a broader crisis is building, one more hidden from the eyes of the media and the public.

More than half of the 65million people displaced globally are children. And only half of those are able to go to primary school.

Children in South Sudan, Burundi, Yemen, and the Central African Republic find themselves caught up in conflicts that are largely ignored by the media, but are having a devastating impact on their lives.

During crises like these, education is critical. It provides a safe space to ensure girls and boys can continue learning. It helps to protect them.

This protection is especially important for girls. During conflict and emergency situations, they are often at far greater risk of violence and abuse. They may be forced into marriage, and face the threat of sexual violence and trafficking. Education helps to protect them from these dangers.

This is why it’s so important that global leaders meeting in New York step up and make clear, new commitments to education. The objective of President Obama’s summit is to increase the number of refugees worldwide in school by one million.

We welcome this goal: Plan International UK has joined with other organisations to support a public letter to world leaders, calling for action on education in crises.

The new Education Cannot Wait: A Fund for Education in Emergencies provides an opportunity for that action. Governments must support it, making specific commitments to refugees and internally displaced children – and especially girls.

Education is essential to protecting children on the move. It improves girls and boys wellbeing, and ensures they have the skills and knowledge needed to help rebuild their societies after conflict.

Education truly cannot wait, and we need action for all children out of school. This week, the world has that chance. Let’s make sure we take it.

Global and national organisations announce $42million investment in education for children affected by crises

Initial investments in the Education Cannot Wait fund will reach nearly 1.5 million children and youth in emergencies over the next two years

NEW YORK, 19 September 2016 – Global and national organisations today announce that an initial $42 million investment in the Education Cannot Wait fund will prioritise giving nearly 1.5 million children in Chad, Syria and Yemen access to a quality education over the next two years, as well as invest in strengthening national and global humanitarian responses to education.

The funds have been allocated to programmes in Yemen ($15m), Chad ($10m) and Syria ($15m), along with grant support to the Education Cluster ($2m).

Education Cannot Wait – a fund for education in emergencies, launched during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul earlier this year, aims to better coordinate support for and drive investment in education for all children and young people affected by humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises by 2030.

Education continues to be one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian appeals. In 2015, humanitarian agencies received only 31 per cent of their education funding needs, down from 66 per cent a decade ago. Despite a 126 per cent increase in education requirements since 2005, funding increased by just 4 per cent. Moreover, education systems equipped to cope with protracted crises cannot be built on the foundations of short-term – and unpredictable – appeals.

Education Cannot Wait, which has a funding target of $3.85 billion over five years, aims to bridge the gap between humanitarian interventions during crises and long-term development afterwards, through predictable funding.

Dubai Cares, the European Union, Netherlands, Norway, the UK Department for International Development, and the United States Government have all made financial contributions so far.

Across the world, education systems are being destroyed by violent armed conflict, natural disasters and health emergencies, robbing children of the skills they need to build safe, strong communities and economies when they reach adulthood. As a result, there are around 75 million children and youth living in crisis situations, such as conflict, natural disasters and disease outbreaks, currently in desperate need of education. 


Why Education Cannot Wait – Julia Gillard

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chair of the Board of Directors at the Global Partnership for Education outlines the priorities of the new Education Cannot Wait campaign and calls on Australian educators to lend their expertise to the cause.

Originally published in Teacher Magazine

As Prime Minister, I saw up close the impact of natural disasters on children and communities. Floods, cyclones and bushfires hit time and time again. No matter how well every household and every level of government prepared, sometimes nature’s capricious cruelty would take lives as well as destroying homes, schools, roads, bridges and other vital infrastructure.

Going to evacuation centres, many of them in school halls, I was always so proud of the spirit and generosity of my fellow Australians.  Volunteers showed up, people gifted money, food and goods to help.  Those in need would find a way of making the best of it all, even when that entailed sleeping on a floor at night and spending the day anxiously trying to piece their lives back together.

In the middle of all of this, I would make a beeline for the children to see how they were faring.  While often suffering trauma from what they had lived through, they too showed incredible resilience.  An entertainer, who volunteered to sing a few songs, perform some magic or be a clown, would always be rewarded by children’s laughter.

In our nation, while we can always get better, generally we have very good systems for making sure that, post the immediate phase of an emergency, children can quickly get back to school.

Now, as Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, I am able to appreciate anew how lucky we are to live in Australia, a nation where even when nature does its worst, we have the resources and capacity to support each other.

What does the data say?

For too many children, getting to go back to school after a crisis is a far away dream, not a reality.  According to the Overseas Development Institute, 75 million children between the ages of three and 18 need educational support.  These children live in 35 different countries and they are already out of school or at real risk of losing their tenuous hold on education.

Some of these children are in these circumstances because of natural disasters.  For example, Nepal’s earthquake destroyed more than 25,000 classrooms.

But the actions of human beings, through war and conflict, have done even more damage. In these dreadful circumstances all children suffer but girls are most at risk, being 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys in countries affected by conflict.

Syria is the most visible example of children in crisis because of conflict, but there are many others.

In today’s world, with more people on the move since World War II and subject to so much seemingly intractable conflict, do we know how to make sure every child gets to go to school?

The answer today is a partial yes.

How are other countries tackling these issues?

Countries like Lebanon are showing what can be done even in the most difficult of circumstances.  Since 2011, Lebanon has received around one million registered Syrian refugees.  Actual numbers are likely to be more like 1.5 million.

When the refugee flow started, Lebanon had a population of around 4.4 million. Only around one third of its school age children were in the public school system with two thirds in non-government schools. Lebanon was embarking on a school quality improvement program.

But, as refugee numbers grew, everything changed.  Lebanon determined to do all it could to offer schooling to Syrian children.  With international support it double shifted its schools and created places for 157 000 children.

Yet, despite such a dramatic step, these efforts have to date proved insufficient with almost half the Syrian children in Lebanon still out of school.

Theirworld, an initiative of Gordon and Sarah Brown, has just recently released a report which puts a spotlight on what more needs to be done to support countries like Lebanon. Remarkably, in a report that details so many difficulties there is one stand out story of hope.

It is the story of Mohammed Kosha, a Syrian child who was out of school for a year but managed to get into an English language school in Lebanon.  Mohammed did not speak much English but he spent hours each night using his father’s mobile phone to access a language dictionary so word by word he could translate his homework in to Arabic and then his answers in to English. Mohammed has just come second in all of Lebanon in the year nine national examination.

Stories of need and ones of hope have galvanised global attention on the vast problem of the loss of schooling because of conflict and natural disaster.

To try to find a way for the world to do better, I have been working over the past year with Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Education, and Anthony Lake, the head of UNICEF, under the auspices of the government of Norway, to build a mechanism that will generate and direct the necessary resources to create a world where no child will have her or his education interrupted because of an emergency or crisis.

What can Australian educators do?

This new fund and platform, called Education Cannot Wait, was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May, together with an appeal for funding to get this initiative firmly underway this year. Already we have received support from governments and the private sector.

The Education Cannot Wait platform will help strengthen coordination and predictability for education support during crisis.  It has to be based on strong collaboration amongst education partners. As the seemingly endless and horrific crisis in Syria has shown, support has to be multi-year and built around strengthening education systems in the places children now reside.

There is a clear recognition that while most of the work of Education Cannot Wait must be on action that makes a difference right now, we have agreed that a small percentage of the funding must go into working out how we can respond better.  Knowledge and ideas will be sought from all parts of the world, including Australia.

Thankfully, we do not have domestic experience in educating children during conflict. But we do have experience in disaster recovery and knowledge of how information technology can make a difference in the most remote of settings.

It is these ideas we need and hope to collect.  So please follow the work at and contribute your ideas and advocacy.


GEM Report calls for fundamental changes to education for children in crisis

 By Aaron Benavot, Director, GEM Report

We are running 50 years late in meeting education targets. That’s the headline for the latest Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report, which calls for an urgent and fundamental change of what and how education is being designed, accessed and delivered around the world.

On current trends assessed in the report, the world will achieve universal primary education in 2042, universal lower secondary education in 2059 and universal upper secondary education in 2084. This will leave the world around half a century late for the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals set last year by the global community.

This is much too long to wait, considering today 263 million children are still out of school and in places like Syria, an entire generation are missing out on their education because of war.

It is clear that armed conflict is one of the greatest obstacles to progress in education. In fact, more than a third of primary school-aged children and a quarter of adolescents who are out of school live in conflict-affected areas. Protracted crises have destroyed education systems, and uprooted more than 20 million children and young peoples from their homes. Refugee children are more than five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugees.

But the Report goes a step further, looking at the intertwined relationship between education inequalities, unrest and violent conflict. We are challenged to remember that, depending on the way an education system is designed, it can reduce or eliminate conflict on the one hand, just as it can lead towards frustration and unrest on another. For instance, across 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, regions that have very low average education had a 50 per cent chance of experiencing conflict within 21 years, while the corresponding interval for regions with very high average education was 346 years.

The links between education and peace do not stop at simple peace education programmes. Stable peace, the new publication shows, is more likely in societies where people are educated in ways that help them access political information and participate in political processes.

Active participation in political processes, including being able to read newspapers and analyse political broadcasts enables people to understand and engage with the underlying causes of social problems at the local and global levels. It also makes the electorate and polity more representative of society, holds governments more effectively to account and helps enforce constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The GEM Report outlines recommendations for pushing education forward in the 21st century. A selection of these recommendations are below. More can be found in the full report.

  • For refugees and internally displaced persons, implement policies that expand the pool of qualified teachers proficient in their languages, and address the issue of official validation and certification of learning by refugees. Refugees who were teachers in their home countries could be an important resource.
  • Promote learning emphasizing the values of tolerance and peace education to help build less violent and more constructive societies.
  • Ensure curricula and learning materials are not biased or prejudiced against ethnic and minority groups.
  • Engender resilience in students and communities in post-conflict societies through curricula, teacher training, transitional justice programmes and supporting integrated schools.
  • Incorporate education into official foreign policy, transitional justice efforts and the peacebuilding agenda when trying to prevent and recover from conflict situations.

Ultimately, we must design and promote education programming that is cross-sectoral and reaching the most marginalized, particularly in humanitarian emergencies. Education systems in their entirety, including through textbooks and the curriculum, through teacher training, pedagogy styles and approaches to equity, must reflect the power they have to maintain or challenge peace. The Sustainable Development Goals depend on it.



2016 Global Education Monitoring Report: Education is essential to all SDGs

Originally posted by the Global Partnership for Education

In May 2015, the World Education Forum  in Incheon mandated UNESCO to retool its annual Global Monitoring Report to document education progress against the goals and objectives of the new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on education.

The newly named Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report brilliantly and comprehensively provides this stocktaking, and it evaluates with empirical precision and depth the role that education plays in achieving the other 16 SDGs.

Importantly, the GEM Report “Education for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all” presents a persuasive argument that efforts to educate more of the world’s out-of-school children deserve more of the international community’s attention, energy and, yes, funding, than they have in the past.

New evidence shows the power of education

The report marshals substantial evidence of education’s impact on all the SDGs. For example, it shows that education is “critical to lifting people out of poverty” (SDG 1), promotes sustainable farming and better nutrition (SDG 2), makes a “difference to a range of health issues, including early mortality, reproductive health, spread of disease, healthy lifestyles and well-being” (SDG 3), helps “women and girls… achieve basic literacy, improve participative skills and abilities, and improve life chances” (SDG 5) and can “promote better energy conservation and uptake of renewable energy sources” (SDG 7).

Education’s relationship with these other development goals makes up a virtuous cycle. Just as education can allow more children to live healthier, more prosperous lives in surroundings less threatened by conflict and environmental dangers, there’s no doubt that children are more likely to learn well when they enjoy good health, economic prosperity, peace and a safe environment.

By stressing that interdependence, the GEM Report gives additional encouragement to initiatives aimed at more and better coordination among the often siloed global development sectors, such as education and health.

The power of a partnership

Meeting the ambitious SDG 4, the GEM Report also notes, will depend on extraordinary coordination among all global education actors.

“There is growing recognition,” the report states, “that stakeholders need to plan together, act together and commit to equity and sustainability.”

The GEM Report cites the Global Partnership for Education as uniquely positioned to facilitate that kind of coordination, not only when it comes to coalescing and harmonizing funding but also in promoting stronger and more ambitious partnerships among governments, development partners, civil society and the private sector at the country level.

GPE has achieved this status, the report says, through its “many strategic and operational changes, such as better targeting fragile contexts, helping build national capacity for education planning and revamping its board of directors.”

GPE’s investments in strengthening systems, which begin with support for coordinated, data driven sector planning, are recognized as providing a critical foundation for better educational outcomes.

As a result, GPE has established itself as “the main multi-stakeholder financing partnership in education, and better leveraging it will be key to meeting financing requirements.”

A long way to go

The GEM Report also reminds us – with substantial data and rich insight– that the world remains far from the finish lines set by SDG4.

Unacceptably large numbers of adolescents and youth – 263 million children – were out of school as late as 2014, according to the GEM Report.

Overrepresented in that group are the most desperately poor, girls, children with disabilities, children from certain ethnic, religious or linguistic groups and, of course, those who are caught in the maelstrom of humanitarian crises.

According to the report, for every 100 of the richest youth in low-income countries who complete primary education, only 36 do so among the poorest; in lower and upper secondary education the corresponding figures are 19 and 7.

Though there has been good progress in some countries and regions, gender parity is still a distant goal in many countries, increasingly so at the lower and upper secondary levels.

Children with disabilities, even in developed countries, are still disproportionately denied their right to education. About 40% of children are not taught in a language they speak or understand. Approximately 50% of primary school-age refugees, and 75% of secondary school-age refugees are out of school worldwide.

New projections provided in the report tell us that for many low-income countries, the SDG4 goals for primary and secondary education are unlikely to be achieved until the end of the 21st century on current trends without a bold step change in both domestic and international financing.

In search of bold support

Addressing the dire education needs around the globe requires significantly more funding. Tapping the full potential of GPE’s approach is limited so long as actual funding continues to fall short of the global need.

“Development aid for education today is lower than it was in 2009,” the GEM Report notes, and “aid needs to increase at least six fold to fill the US$39 billion annual gap to reach the new targets.”

Moreover, the report points out, “low-income countries received 28% of total aid to basic education in 2014 while accounting for 36% of all out-of-school children,” and “a lack of adequate and equitable finance was a key reason why the world fell short of achieving the Education for All goals between 2000 and 2015.”

As recommendations in the coming weeks from the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunities will likely show, the bold ambition of the SDGs requires equally bold actions. Without sufficient financial commitment for education, we’ll almost certainly undermine SDG progress.

Now, and for the next 15 years, we have the opportunity to do better. To do it right.

By Karen Mundy, Chief Technical Officer at the Global Partnership for Education.

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