HOPE IN A WORLD GONE MAD

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‘When we learn and play here, I feel peace in my heart, and forget what has happened to me.’ Janat Ara, 12. Name changed to protect identity. Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook

SURVIVING ATTACKS AND GUNFIRE A ROHINGYA GIRL FINDS NEW HOPE THROUGH EDUCATION

Janat Ara is a survivor. She’s a dreamer. She’s a unique symbol of hope and resilience in a world gone mad.

In her short 12-year life, the Rohingya refugee has lost both her parents. She’s hidden in the woods for 15 days to escape bandits that were reportedly threatening to rape and abduct young girls in her native Myanmar. She’s been attacked by gunfire.

Around 725,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since the ethnic violence, which some have labeled a crime against humanity, started in August 2017. The new arrivals and asylum seekers are putting a strain on local communities and resources and around 1.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance today. An estimated 54 per cent of these refugees are under 18. That means close to 400,000 children are nationless, lack consistent access to education, and live in makeshift, overcrowded camps in the Cox’s Bazaar district of Bangladesh.

While much work is being done to protect these children by both the government of Bangladesh as well as international donor agencies, local non-profits and the United Nations System, the camps are still a dangerous place. Girls are particularly at risk to sexual exploitation and gender-based violence. And malnutrition, disease and unsafe water pose health risks for children and adults alike.

Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook
Attending class in the Learning Centre. Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook

A SENSE OF HOPE

Out of this chaos, a sense of hope and redemption is emerging for children like Janat Ara. It all starts in the new learning centers where children receive daily instruction through an investment backed by Education Cannot Wait and implemented through UNICEF, Save the Children, Friendship and BRAC.

“I love the learning center. I have been through a lot back in Myanmar. When we learn and play here, I feel peace in my heart, and forget what has happened to me,” said Janat Ara (whose name has been changed for her own protection). “When I grow up, I want to work at an NGO or at the hospital. My teacher also said that he sees that I could become a teacher. He has suggested that I maybe can join an NGO when I am older, to teach other children Burmese.”

The first educational emergency response is making a real difference for the 400,000 Rohingya children and youth and host community children that have been impacted by this crisis, exceeding most targets by 200 per cent.

In all, the fast-acting 12-month Education for Children of Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities in Cox’s Bazar investment has built more than 270 learning centers to date, and is on track to complete an additional 50 more to reach investment targets. According to the latest reports (December 2018), over 25,000 refugee children aged 4 to 14 have received access to safe and protective learning environments – that is three times more than the number of children initially targeted by the project. Additionally, more than 270 sets of early childhood development and school-in-a-box kits have been shared.

The investment embraced innovative and flexible learning models to mobilize fast education responses, including using podcasts and video conferences to train teachers in the camps. Along with other innovative measures, this enabled more children and youth to be reached than originally planned.

Community involvement is key in a complex context like the Rohingya crisis. To encourage involvement from parents and community members, outreach activities have reached close to 20,00 people with important messages advocating for school enrollment, hygiene and sanitation, and the importance of a safe learning environment for children and youth.

Girls and children with disabilities often fall behind in crisis situations like this. More than 50 percent of the students enrolled since the beginning of the project are girls. Total access to education for girls and adolescent girls reached more than 12,800 girls, that is nearly three times more than the original number targeted by the programme. To encourage enrollment and retention of girls, the recruitment and training of female teachers has been highly encouraged. In all some 546 teachers have been trained through the investment, over 85 per cent of whom are female. The project has also identified 620 children with disabilities in these camps with the aim to reach at least 95% of them by June 2019.

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Janat Ara’s Aunt Halima has taken on the responsibility of caring for the young dreamer and her sister.

“We came here in March 2018. Even after the outbreak of violence we tried to stay. But then armed groups started tormenting us. They wouldn’t let us go out at night. They started taking away girls and young women, and raping and killing them. When the threats become too much to bear, all of us in our village decided that we would come to Bangladesh,” said Halima. “I worry a lot about Janat Ara, because she doesn’t have parents. The children had nothing to do when we arrived, and I thought – if Allah brought these children to me, then there must be something special about them. So, I registered them into the learning center.”

Since starting school Janat Ara has made new friends, started learning English and is finding a “new normal” after enduring a perilous and traumatic journey. Her Aunt reports that “she has changed a lot since being here and she seems happy now.”

‘When we learn and play here, I feel peace in my heart, and forget what has happened to me.’ Janat Ara, 12. Name changed to protect Janat Ara's identity. Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook
Surviving crisis, the loss of her parents and other life-changing ordeals, Janat Ara is returning to a sense of normalcy in the camp. Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook

LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS

Humanitarian crisis like this need more than one-off responses. Working with the Government of Bangladesh, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNHCR, Education Cannot Wait launched a new US$12 million grant in November 2018 to benefit an additional 88,500 refugee and host community children and adolescents. With efforts to mobilize resources from multiple partners and donors, the multi-year grant will connect with other initiatives to reach more than half a million refugee and host community and youth, and 9800 teachers over the coming years.

With continued support, class sizes are going down, and students will benefit from more time with more highly trained teachers in the learning centers. As new learning centers are built and reorganized, student contact time will increase from two to four hours, and class sizes will drop from 105 students per learning center to around 80.

It’s a powerful step forward for girls and boys caught in this cycle of violence, migration, crisis and fear. For Janat Ara and others like her, more needs to be done, and Education Cannot Wait is working to bring multiple partners to work together towards a lasting solution to protect these children, provide them an education, and a safer path to become productive and essential members of society. Through stronger partnerships and collaboration, we can address this pressing crisis.

IN FOCUS

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

FROM THE QUARRY TO THE CLASSROOM

Somalia
In crisis stricken Somalia, children often need to work to provide food for themselves and their families. One of these children is 12-year-old Nadifa, who worked in a quarry to support her family. With support from Intersos and Education Cannot Wait, Nadifa is back in school and thriving. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos

IN SOMALIA, EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND INTERSOS LOOK TOWARD SAFE DRINKING WATER AND SCHOOL MEALS TO GET CHILDREN BACK IN SCHOOL

Nadifa Ibrahim picks up her hammer and strikes down on the chalk white stones at the quarry where she works with her family and other children displaced by Somalia’s years of civil war, drought and poverty. This seemingly un-ending crisis has displaced 1 million school-aged children and left an estimated 3.4 million girls and boys out of school.

Nadifa’s 12-year-old hands are hardly big enough to hold the hammer – and she makes less per day than the bigger boys and adults who are able to smash bigger stones – but in order to survive and support the family she needs to work.

Nadifa isn’t alone. Most of Somalia’s internally displaced children are out of school because they need to work to feed themselves and their families, or they need to spend a big chunk of their days fetching water or simply scavenging for food.

To make things even more complicated, these children living far from their homes face ever-increasing risks of child marriage, sexual assault and recruitment into armed groups.

These destabilizing forces are like a ticking time bomb that threatens the future of an entire generation.

Over the last year, violence and instability fueled a sharp increase in the number of displaced people in Baidoa District, where the majority of Somalia’s displacement camps are found. In the Diinsor District – largely controlled by the extremist group Al Shabaab – the situation is even more dire.  There are no secondary schools and only two primary schools available to educate and protect the growing influx of displaced children. Food and safe drinking water are hard to come by, and 1.5 million people face acute food insecurity.

Nadifa back in school. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos
Nadifa studying in her new classroom.  Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos

SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR COMPLEX CHALLENGES

Getting children like Nadifa out of the quarry and back in school requires a unique approach that looks not just at access to education, but also at the intersections of conflict, crises, poverty and hunger, and the root causes that force children into the quarries, into armed groups and out of school.

To reach these children, Education Cannot Wait partnered with the Italian humanitarian organization Intersos in a fast-acting 12-month first emergency educational response programme designed to expand access to quality education services for the children of the Baidoa and Diinsor Districts and enhance community coping mechanisms and resilience to crisis.

The project came to a close in August 2018, increasing school enrollment by 13 per cent for boys and 17 per cent for girls, and reaching 4787 children in all, 41% of whom were girls. In Somalia, fewer than 50 per cent of girls attend primary school, and the last countrywide survey from 2006 showed that only 25 per cent of women aged 15 to 24 were literate.

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REVERSING THE CYCLE

Now there’s a chance to reverse this cycle, and Nadifa, and other children like her, are back in school, and no longer need to work in the quarry.

Mohamed Nur is an 11-year-old boy that worked in the quarry. His hands are blistered and aged from his time blasting rocks apart with a hammer. With support from the investment, Mohamed is back in school and has a brighter outlook on life.

“At least the pen is softer than the hammer,” the affable boy jokes. “I never ever want to go back to the quarry again, I felt bad seeing other children go to school, but there was nothing I could do.”

Students are receiving warm, healthy meals.
Students are receiving warm, healthy meals through the programme. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos

A MEAL PER DAY

Unlike many schools in Somalia, the schools for displaced children supported by Education Cannot Wait are free. Through the investment, the children also receive a warm, healthy meal each day – sometimes the only food they will get. The delivery of food is managed by the headmasters, to ensure food doesn’t go missing, and to provide an incentive to keep children in school.

The investment also set up innovative water and hygiene programmes that support healthier children and easier access to safe drinking water.  Safe drinking water is being delivered in 13 schools through the investment. Project personnel indicate that three months after the project close, the water trucks, donkey carts, and permanent connections to water systems are still working. Hand-washing stations and girls-only latrines were also developed.

“Educating girls is educating a nation,” said Isaq Abdi Hussein, head teacher at the Warsan school for displaced children. “Many girls and boys were unable to attend school, due to poverty, but with the introduction of school feeding, the school enrolment has significantly improved.”

Girls find a safer learning environment. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos
Girls find a safer learning environment. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos

REVERSING THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE

To deal with the scars of displacement and early childhood trauma, the children have access to improved psycho-social support from teachers that have received advance training through the programme and also receive a US$100 monthly stipend.

“These schools have saved the lives of many children. Their future was uncertain, and this is how they become vulnerable to abuse and bad elements in the community who enlist them in armed conflict. But now they are settled in school and this is also good for us as a community,” said Ibrahim Adan Ali, head teacher at the Al-Amin school.

Providing water has helped encourage parents to send their children to school. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos
Providing water has helped encourage parents to send their children to school. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos

KEEPING CHILDREN IN SCHOOL

To entice families to send their children to school, the investment created a “back to school” campaign that included community forums, home visits and sensitization on the value of education, especially for girls and children with special needs. Learning materials and books were also distributed, along with the introduction of other recreational activities designed to make learning fun and engaging.

Education stakeholders in Somalia are currently developing a multi-year resilience programme funding proposal for Education Cannot Wait. This programme will build on the success of this first emergency response and other Education Cannot Wait-funded investment and ensure that gains made so far are not lost.

Nadifa dreams of taking her new chance at an education and paying it forward.

“I would like to be a teacher so that I educate as many girls as possible. I have also told my friends in the quarry to come to school as there is everything we need to learn,” said Nadifa.

With ongoing support, less children need to work the quarry. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos
With ongoing support, less children need to work the quarry. Photo: Zakaria Awil Sirad/Intersos

LINKS

Also available in Italian on the Intersos website.

EDUCATION IN CRISIS: AN INHERENT HUMAN RIGHT

There is a US$8.5 billion funding gap for education in crisis that has left some 75 million children in some of the harshest living conditions on the planet without access to safe, reliable education. That’s more than the total population of Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands combined.

As we mark the first International Day of Education, the global community has a responsibility to invest in the inherent right of these children and youth.

Shofika is a nine-year-old refugee in Bangladesh that's benefiting from timely education responses funded by Education Cannot Wait. 'I love learning the songs and the dances in the learning centre.' Photo Dafhnee Cook/Save The Children
Shofika is a nine-year-old refugee in Bangladesh that’s benefiting from timely education responses funded by Education Cannot Wait. ‘I love learning the songs and the dances in the learning centre.’ Photo Daphnee Cook/Save The Children

WE NEED TO STEP UP GLOBAL SUPPORT TO FILL THE US$8.5 FUNDING GAP FOR EDUCATION IN CRISIS

By Yasmine Sherif

There is a US$8.5 billion funding gap for education in crisis that has left some 75 million children in some of the harshest living conditions on the planet without access to safe, reliable education. That’s more than the total population of Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands combined.

As we mark the first International Day of Education, the global community has a responsibility to invest in the inherent right of these children and youth.

Failing to do so will derail our efforts to end hunger and poverty by 2030, and build a more peaceful, more humane and more constructive world.

It may not be easy, but it is possible. By breaking down barriers, connecting coalitions of the willing, investing adequate financial resources, and making a value proposition that underscores the outstanding return on investment that education funding brings – especially in crisis contexts – we can reach our goals.

The socio-economic value of education in crisis

The persistent absence of timely responses to deliver quality education in crisis settings exposes children and youth to risks of psychological trauma, gender-based violence, child trafficking, forced recruitment in armed groups, early marriage and pregnancy.

Education is the best investment we can make to save their lives and end the cycles of poverty, hunger, inequality, violence, instability and unspeakable human suffering they live with every day.

Girls are even more at risk. An estimated 39 million girls living in crisis lack consistent access to education. To make it even worse, girls in crisis are two and a half times more likely to be out of school than boys, and we need to take affirmative actions to ensure these girls are not left behind.

This is where our value proposition comes in. The economic returns for investing in education in emergencies and protracted crisis are significant.

According to the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, for each dollar invested in education, more than US$5 is returned in additional gross earnings in low-income countries and US$2.50 in lower middle-income countries.

The World Bank estimates that if every girl worldwide were to receive 12 years of quality schooling, irrespective of whether there’s a crisis or not, the human capital wealth represented by their lifetime earnings could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion.

Translating moral values into action

If we deconstruct these numbers, we can fill this gap by mobilizing just US$113 per year per child.

Less bureaucracy and more accountability, and placing people above process, are essential. It requires speed to be responsive and depth to be inclusive and sustainable.

An illustrative example is the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh. With the support of donors and implementing partners on the ground, Education Cannot Wait allocated US$3 million to support a 12-month educational emergency response.

Last year, the Fund announced an additional US$12 million allocation for a multi-year program that builds upon the short-term emergency response to ensure continuity, quality and sustainability. By connecting national co-finance, other donor contributions, this seed funding will be leveraged to reach the US$60 million needed. In doing so, it brings together partners to align efforts towards collective learning outcomes.

No single stakeholder has the capacity to meet the full scope of needs to ensure we achieve education for all girls and boys in crisis settings by 2030. Collaboration is key.

Missing this mark has potentially catastrophic impacts on our world’s economic and social future, and, eventually, on our sense of moral responsibility. Nelson Mandela once said: “To deny people their human rights means denying their humanity.” Education is an inherent human right and the 75 million children and youth in crisis are a test of our true values and sense of humanity.

About the Author

Yasmine Sherif is the Director of Education Cannot Wait. A lawyer specialized in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law, she has 30 years of experience with the United Nations (UNHCR, UNDP, OCHA) and international NGOs. Follow Yasmine on twitter. Education Cannot Wait, a new multilateral global fund hosted by UNICEF, was set up with the special mandate to address the funding gap for education in crisis. By 2021, the Fund aims to mobilize an additional US$1.8 billion in finance to reach approximately 8.9 million children.

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF EDUCATION – MESSAGE FROM THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL

Education DayToday we celebrate the first International Day of Education.

Education transforms lives. As United Nations Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai once said: “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”. Nelson Mandela rightly called education “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Long before I served at the United Nations or held public office in my own country, I was a teacher. In the slums of Lisbon, I saw that education is an engine for poverty eradication and a force for peace.

Today, education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We need education to reduce inequalities and improve health. We need education to achieve gender equality and eliminate child marriage. We need education to protect our planet’s resources. And we need education to fight hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance, and to nurture global citizenship.

Yet at least 262 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school, most of them girls.  Millions more who attend school are not mastering the basics.

This is a violation of their human right to education. The world cannot afford a generation of children and young people who lack the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy, nor can we afford to leave behind half of humanity.

We must do far more to advance Sustainable Development Goal 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Education can also break and reverse cycles of intergenerational poverty. Studies show that if all girls and boys complete secondary education, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

Let us prioritize education as a public good; support it with cooperation, partnerships and funding; and recognize that leaving no one behind starts with education.

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Twitter #EducationDay

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Dutch Minister Sigrid Kaag highlights the vital importance of education in crisis

The Netherlands is a core contributor to Education Cannot Wait, with US$24 million in signed contributions to date. At the heart of this partnership between the new global fund for education in crisis and the Netherlands is the work of the charismatic Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag.

37238388254_f6d2e9b1d9_kPARTNER VOICES Q&A

‘In times of crisis, education offers stability, security, prospects for the future, and opportunities to acquire vital knowledge and skills’

As part of its efforts to tackle the root causes of poverty and instability – and improve young people’s prospects the world over – the Netherlands plans to expand its activities to support education in protracted crisis and emergencies.

In partnership with Education Cannot Wait, the Dutch Government is focusing its educational support on global hotspots, including targeted efforts in West African Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa, along with continued support to the Africa’s Great Lakes region, and Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Asia.

The Netherlands is a core contributor to Education Cannot Wait, with US$24 million in signed contributions to date. At the heart of this partnership between the new global fund for education in crisis and the Netherlands is the work of the charismatic Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag.

A leading and high-profile global advocate for education in crisis with a broad and deep experience in development and multilateralism, Mrs. Kaag was appointed as the Dutch Minister in October 2017 after working for 25 years as a senior leader in the United Nations.

Minister Kaag went to university in Utrecht, Cairo, Exeter and Oxford. After finishing her studies – which resulted in a M.Phil. in International Relations and a M.A. in Middle East Studies – she worked for Shell International in London and at the UN section of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs before joining the United Nations in 1994.

A well-informed leader, Minister Kaag has served in numerous senior positions with the United Nations, starting with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Among others, she served as the Chief of Staff with UNICEF, and as Assistant Secretary-General for UNDP in New York. Minister Kaag subsequently was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to serve in two successive political leadership positions.

From October 2013 to September 2014, as UN Under-Secretary-General, she led the mission to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria. In 2015, she was appointed the UN Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator in Lebanon.

Learn more about Minister Kaag’s development cooperation agenda in her policy document on Investing in Global Prospects.

Girls learning in an Education Cannot Wait supported classroom in Afghanistan (Photo ECW).
Girls learning in an Education Cannot Wait supported learning space in Afghanistan (Photo ECW).

Why must education in crisis be made a priority in order to achieve gender equality, the Sustainable Development Goals, peace and stability?

In times of crisis, education offers stability, security, prospects for the future, and opportunities to acquire vital knowledge and skills. If we forget the 75 million children and youth who are living in countries affected by emergencies and crises, we will not only fail to attain SDG 4 (to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning and opportunities for all) but also fall short of other SDGs. Education gives people greater economic opportunities. Access to quality education is also key to gender equality: it helps us combat child labour, child marriage and sexual and gender-based violence, and enhances the ability of women and girls to make decisions about their own lives and bodies.

In places like Afghanistan, where 2.2 million girls have been left behind and lack reliable and safe access to education, Education Cannot Wait is a timely global fund as it bridges the humanitarian-development divide and places gender as a priority of this pioneering work. The empowerment of girls and adolescent girls during an emergency and crisis through quality education is essential to achieving all the other Sustainable Development Goals. It is also essential in advancing peace processes and sustaining that peace.

Elisabeth, 52 years old, teaches 4th graders at a temporary learning space in the Kaga Bandoro’s IDP site where Education Cannot Wait is currently deploying educational support for displaced children. (UNICEF/Sokhin)
Elisabeth, 52 years old, teaches 4th graders at a temporary learning space in Kaga Bandoro’s IDP site in CAR, where Education Cannot Wait is currently deploying educational support for displaced children. (UNICEF/Sokhin)

As a former senior UN official, can you explain the contribution that education makes to realizing the UN’s values and to pursuing multilateral efforts? Specifically, how will Education Cannot Wait, a new global fund hosted by UNICEF that seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to reach 8.9 million children and young people living in crisis, help us achieve these goals?  

Education makes a particular contribution to a UN core value by giving children and young people the opportunity to live decent lives and find decent jobs. Education is also a human right, so investing in education is the right thing to do. Furthermore, education brings prosperity: one extra year of education raises individual income by 10 per cent.

In times of crises, education provides safety and hope. As a rapidly growing fund with a focus on results, Education Cannot Wait contributes to multilateral efforts to be more responsive and to working together across the humanitarian and development spectrum to achieve lasting impact. As a broker and catalyst for change, this new Fund will be an essential actor in working toward more inclusive and equitable education for all. With the support of Education Cannot Wait’s donors, including the Netherlands, this is happening in places like the Lake Chad region, where 3.5 million children are at risk. That’s more people than the populations of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague combined. To address this issue, the Government of Chad is demonstrating a strong willingness to provide educational support for refugees.

But there simply aren’t enough resources to deal with the influx. To avoid negative cycles of poverty, violence and extremism, the international community needs to come together, in partnership with organizations like Education Cannot Wait, to address this issue. And we must address it not as a series of individual challenges, but as an interlinked problem that requires coordinated responses across the human-development spectrum. This is one of the unique advantages of a global fund such as Education Cannot Wait. They can bring these stakeholders together and foster more agile and integrated approaches to our educational responses to crisis.

How can the New Way of Working, through joint programming and linking humanitarian aid to development, be used to deliver education in crisis and emergencies? And what role can Education Cannot Wait play in linking relief to development in the education sector during protracted crises?

Displaced people are displaced for an average of 17 years, so this is not a short-term challenge. There is an urgent need for humanitarian and development actors to join forces. I value Education Cannot Wait’s role in meeting this need and prioritizing education. By fostering development in humanitarian settings, Education Cannot Wait invests in young people’s values, skills and capacities. Their generation has a crucial role to play in shaping post-crisis societies. That makes them crucial actors in development. Think about the Rohingya children that are living in dire conditions in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. Around 400,000 children here lack access to education and live in dangerous environments where an education can mean the difference between safety and peril, and where sometimes the only food they will get in a day will be at a learning center. With Dutch funding and the contributions of growing group of donors, Education Cannot Wait is working with a multiple partners including UNICEF, UNCHR, UNESCO, Save the Children, Friendship and BRAC to expand learning centers in Bangladesh. This means children will have safe places to learn, play and grow. But we need to go beyond just first response, and the new US$12 million allocation from the Fund that will support 88,500 refugees will be central in efforts to create a long-term resilience programme in Bangladesh.

You are a champion of education – especially education for the world’s most vulnerable children. Can you explain the importance of education to the Dutch development strategy?

Dutch policy takes SDG 4 as a starting point. Not only is education a human right; it should also lead to empowerment. By increasing people’s autonomy and capacity for self-determination, education should provide equal opportunities for all. My policy gives priority to the poorest people and the most marginalized and excluded, including women and girls, young refugees and refugee children. It focuses on appropriate education that includes three sets of interrelated skills: basic numeracy and literacy (foundation skills), life skills (transferable skills), and technical and vocational skills. All three skill sets are necessary for the personal development and empowerment that make it possible to find a decent job and have a decent life. It is important that transferable skills are included in education in humanitarian situations through Education Cannot Wait-financed programmes.

Girls are being supported in Chad with Education Cannot Wait funding. (Devaki Erande/JRS)
Girls are being supported in Chad with Education Cannot Wait funding and the contributions of the Dutch Government. (Devaki Erande/JRS)

As a government minister and former senior UN official, can you share some reflections on education and SDG 4 in achieving the 2030 Agenda for those left furthest behind: refugees, girls and children with disabilities?  How is SDG 4 connected to the other SDGs?

In my opinion, a great injustice is being done to those left furthest behind. I believe that education, decent work and gender equality, particularly for young people, are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.

I would like to congratulate Education Cannot Wait on its strong gender strategy, especially with regard to SDG 5 (to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls). I look forward to seeing this strategy implemented over the upcoming months and years as the Fund brings its initial efforts to scale and expands its reach with both expanded first emergency responses that are responsive to the unique needs of girls, as well as multi-year programming that will empower girls for generations to come. This can only happen by increasing women’s participation in political decision making and leadership, by increasing economic empowerment and improving the economic environment for women and girls, by preventing and eliminating gender-based violence, and by strengthening the role of women in conflict prevention and peace processes.

On the way to school in Chad (Devaki Erande/JRS)
On the way to school in Chad (Devaki Erande/JRS)

Do you have any additional comments?

Because we know that the 2030 Agenda cannot be achieved without partnerships, I would like to stress the importance of SDG 17 (to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development). I look forward to seeing even more complementarity and partnership between Education Cannot Wait and other key actors such as the Global Partnership for Education. Only in partnership can we ensure that every child and young person has access to appropriate, quality education by 2030.

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Follow Minister Kaag on Twitter