GCE and ECW joint statement on the occasion of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly

10 September 2020, New York – On the occasion of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) and the Education Cannot Wait Fund (ECW) jointly call on governments and the donor community to COMMIT funding to ECW for the education of those furthest left behind in emergencies and crises.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the world’s education systems, causing the closure of schools in more than 160 countries, affecting over 1 billion learners.
This impact was felt most dramatically in emergency contexts where education has been disrupted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate-change induced disasters and protracted crises.

With timely and predictable funding from many donors since its inception in 2016, ECW’s investments have reached nearly 3.5 million children and youth by end of 2019 in 30 of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. For its part, GCE continues to be the largest civil society global movement working to ensure the right to education in all contexts and for all people, and to promote Civil Society participation to improve decision making mechanism and accountability processes.

GCE and ECW both tirelessly work to realise the right to free, quality, public education for all. This right can only be guaranteed if timely and predictable funding is ensured for educational systems threatened or affected by emergencies and if civil society participation is recognised as essential to improve decision-making mechanisms and accountability processes. Another US$300 million is needed to support ECW’s emergency education response to the COVID-19 pandemic in ongoing crises.

Such commitment will allow ECW to reach close to 9 million children by 2021 and will enable fragile public education systems to be strengthened or rebuilt, thereby meeting the promise for equal and free education to all children, especially those furthest left behind.

We call on the donors, governments and agencies to STEP UP their support to ECW this year. We are in a race against time: millions of vulnerable children and youth need urgent help to safeguard their lives and future.


9 September 2020, New York – Education Cannot Wait released today the line-up of eminent speakers from around the world who will participate in ‘The Future of Education is Here for Those Left Furthest Behind’, a virtual, high-level side event to the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Please click here to quickly and easily register for this high-level event: Register Now

Confirmed speakers include:
The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education
Baroness Liz Sugg, UK Minister for Foreign and Development Affairs and Special Envoy for Girls’ Education
H.E. Dr. Getahun Mekuriya, Minister of Education, Ethiopia
H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro, Minister of Education and Literacy, Burkina Faso
The Hon. Abdullahi Godah Barre, Minister of Education, Culture and Higher Education, Federal Republic of Somalia
H.E. Mrs. Maria Victoria Angulo, Minister for Education, Colombia
Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister for International Development, Norway
Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, German Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
Ms. Carol O’Connell, Acting Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of State
Henrietta H. Fore
, UNICEF Executive Director
Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children UK
EU Commissioners Jutta Urpilainen and Janez Lenarčič
The Hon. Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, Canada
Miranda Ndolo, Theirworld Youth Advocate, Cameroon
Jaime Saavedra, Global Education Director, World Bank
David Beasley, WFP Executive Director
Ibrahim Jalal, Youth Advocates with Disabilities from Uganda
Sarah Mardini, Syrian Youth Advocate
Rachel Brosnahan, Actress and Education Champion
Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO
Delphine O, Secretary-General Generation Equality Forum
Sarah Brown
, Chair, Theirworld & Global Business Coalition for Education
John Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer, The LEGO Foundation
H.E. Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Cares
Julie Cram, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator
Yasmine Sherif, Director, Education Cannot Wait
And More!

Please find the Agenda for this dynamic and exciting global discussion, which will be moderated by Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait and is co-hosted by: Ministry of Education of Colombia, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), US Government, United Kingdom, Canada, the Ministry of Development Cooperation for Norway, the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia and the Ministry of Education of Burkina Faso.

Event details:

Date: Thursday, 17 September from 9:00-10:30 am, EST

Venue: Virtual side event to the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Registration: Open to the general public. Register Now

This virtual meeting of global leaders, education experts and young people will take place during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and offer an opportunity to reimagine education for those left furthest behind, shifting the narrative from one of crisis to one of opportunity. We will provide a platform for leaders to bring forward commitments that bring this shared ambition to life. We will amplify the voices of young people to guide us on a path to deliver a better future for conflict and crisis-affected children and youth.

If you have any questions related to this event, please contact info@educannotwait.org.


View original on GCPEA.

More than 22,000 students, teachers, and academics were injured, killed or harmed in attacks on education during armed conflict or insecurity over the past five years, according to Education under Attack 2020, a 300-page report published by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). More than 11,000 separate attacks on education facilities, students and educators took place between 2015 and 2019. 

Attacks on education include bombing and burning schools and universities, and killing, maiming, raping, abducting, arbitrarily arresting, and recruiting students and educators at, or enroute to and from, educational institutions by armed forces, other state actors, or armed groups, during armed conflict or insecurity. 

Education under Attack 2020 finds that the number of countries experiencing attacks on education has increased in recent years. Between 2015 and 2019, 93 countries experienced at least one reported attack on education, marking an increase of 19 affected countries, up from 74 countries in the previous reporting period of 2013-2017.  

Attacks on education emerged in new countries, including Guinea and Nicaragua. In Burkina Faso and Niger, which were only minimally affected in prior years, attacks rose starkly, contributing to the closure of more than 2,000 schools. Non-state armed groups operating in these two countries carried out many of these attacks.  

Numbers of attacks on education remained alarmingly high in Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with each experiencing over 1,500 documented attacks on schools. Afghanistan, Palestine, and Syria each experienced over 500 attacks on schools. In Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, GCPEA found the widespread use of explosive weapons during targeted and indiscriminate attacks on educational institutions.  

Students and educators were most frequently harmed by direct attacks in Afghanistan, Cameroon, and Palestine. In Cameroon, over 1,000 school and university students and staff were threatened, abducted, injured, or killed by armed groups or state armed forces.  

Attacks on higher education were reported in 73 countries. Law enforcement, military forces, or pro-government armed groups used excessive, even lethal, force to disperse university students and staff protesting on campuses or over education-related grievances, primarily in situations of insecurity. In 36 of the 37 countries profiled, over 9,100 higher education students and staff were injured, killed, abducted, or arrested between 2015 and 2019.  

A significant – and preventable – cause of attacks was the use of schools for military purposes, GCPEA found. Armed forces, other state actors, and armed groups used schools and universities for military purposes in 34 countries between 2015 and 2019, including as bases, detention centers, and weapons stores. In Myanmar, the United Nations verified 51 incidents of military use in 2019. In one example, armed forces used a school to detain over 270 men and boys in Rakhine State, opening fire and killing six prisoners and wounding eight.  

Armed groups or armed forces also targeted schools to recruit children. In the past five years, state armed forces or armed groups reportedly recruited students from schools in 17 countries. In Somalia, the UN verified that armed groups recruited at least 280 children from schools in 2017.

Armed forces, security forces, or armed groups were reportedly responsible for sexual violence in, or on the way to or from, schools and universities in at least 17 countries in the past five years.  

The overall number of attacks globally declined slightly from the 2013-2017 reporting period, from 12,700. In 2015-2019, attacks on education significantly decreased in 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestine, South Sudan, and Ukraine.  

Attacks on education not only kill or injure individual students and teachers, they also impact communities for years. With buildings or teaching materials destroyed and students and teachers living in fear, schools and universities close and some students never resume their education, impeding long-term development. 

Attacks on education have specific impacts on female students and educators. GCPEA found that women and girls were targeted due to their gender in attacks on education in at least 21 countries between 2015 and 2019. Pregnancy from rape, the health consequences and stigma of sexual violence, the risk of early marriage, and the privileging of boys’ education over girls’, all make it particularly difficult for girls to return to school.  

Governments and armed groups should end attacks on education and refrain from using schools and universities for military purposes, GCPEA said. Governments need to hold those responsible for attacks to account, develop gender-responsive safety and security plans to prevent and respond to attacks, and strengthen monitoring and reporting of attacks on education. Donors, international organizations and civil society should support governments in these endeavours. 

Support for Education under Attack 2020 has been generously provided by the Education Above All Foundation, Education Cannot Wait, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an anonymous donor.  


First International Day to Protect Education from Attack Addresses Violations Globally

View original on GCPEA

8 September 2020, New York – The Central Sahel has seen a significant spike in attacks on students, teachers, and schools since 2018, according to a new report released today by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). The report is launched ahead of the first ever United Nations International Day to Protect Education from Attack on September 9, 2020.

Supporting Safe Education in the Central Sahel noted over 85 attacks on education in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger between January and July 2020, despite Covid-19-related school closures between late March and May. At least 27 attacks on middle schools were recorded in Mali when schools reopened for children to take their exams in June.

These attacks follow an alarming increase in attacks on education across the Central Sahel in recent years. In Burkina Faso and Niger, attacks on education more than doubled between 2018 and 2019, contributing to the closure of more than 2,000 schools. In Mali, over 60 attacks on education took place in 2019 alone, with over 1,100 schools closed.

Non-state armed groups targeted state education across the Central Sahel, most commonly by burning and looting schools and threatening, abducting, or killing teachers, the report said. State forces and non-state armed groups also used dozens of schools for military purposes, including as camps and temporary bases.

Female students and educators are specifically affected by attacks, GCPEA found. Pregnancy from rape, the health consequences and stigma of sexual violence, the risk of early marriage, and the privileging of boys’ education over girls’ all make it particularly difficult for girls to return to school.

“The International Day to Protect Education from Attack is a crucial moment to highlight the scope and enormous cost that attacks on education have on the lives and futures of students and communities,” said Diya Nijhowne, executive director of GCPEA. “But it is also a time to recognize the significant progress made towards protecting students and educators, including through widespread adoption of the Safe Schools Declaration and advances in its implementation.”

The Safe Schools Declaration, a political commitment to protect students, educators, schools, and universities in armed conflict, currently has 104 state signatories. By endorsing the declaration, countries commit to take concrete steps to protect education in armed conflict, including by using the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.

GCPEA calls for coordinated, targeted, and sustainable support to implement the Safe Schools Declaration and keep students, teachers, and educational facilities across the Central Sahel safe from attack. This includes prioritizing and funding measures to prevent, mitigate, and respond to attacks on education within humanitarian response and development plans and programs. As the three Central Sahel countries confront interlinked humanitarian crises, regional efforts should also be taken to reinforce monitoring and reporting of attacks and develop prevention and response plans.

The Ministerial Roundtable on the Central Sahel, to be hosted by Denmark, Germany, the European Union, and the UN on October 20, provides a key opportunity to place protection of education firmly on the humanitarian agenda.

The Central Sahel report draws on new data from the coalition’s flagship report, Education under Attack, which identified more than 11,000 attacks on education facilities, students, and educators between 2015 and 2019, harming, injuring, or killing more than 22,000 students, teachers, and academics globally.

As schools in the Central Sahel and globally resume after Covid-19 lockdowns, GCPEA urges governments to ensure that education providers conduct risk assessments prior to reopening and enact appropriate security measures where needed to minimize students’ and teachers’ risk of attack. Where schools and universities cannot reopen safely, alternative and distance measures should be put in place. GCPEA also urges governments and education providers to ensure that any post-Covid-19 “back-to-school” campaigns and catch-up classes include learners previously excluded from studies by attacks on education. Governments and education providers should also ensure that distance-learning programs established in response to Covid-19 are accessible to and benefit learners affected by attacks and insecurity.

“On this first International Day to Protect Education from Attack and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments and donors should act to keep students and educators, schools, and universities safe from attack in the Central Sahel and globally,” Nijhowne said. “As programs and policies are developed to support the continuation of education during the health crisis, there is an opening to ensure that they incorporate protection against attack, and include students excluded from learning due to past attacks.”



A Malian refugee student plays the role of teacher at a school in Goudoubo camp. Because of rising insecurity teachers no longer show up and students often teach each other. Photo © UNHCR/Sylvain Cherkaoui

On the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack, UNHCR and Education Cannot Wait are bridging the gap to provide refugee children with the safety, hope and opportunity of an education. In Burkina Faso, by the end of 2019, more than 3,300 schools were shut, affecting almost 650,000 children and more than 16,000 teachers. Oumar refuses to give up on his education.

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Ag Ahmed in Dori, UNHCR Burkina Faso  (Original Story | Español)

With the violence that had been plaguing parts of the Sahel region for years beginning to rage in Burkina Faso, teachers at Oumar’s school simply stopped coming to work. Then they left the area altogether.

That put Oumar’s education, and the education of thousands of other Malian refugee children who were then living in Mentao refugee camp, on hold.

“I was very sad to have to stay home all day and not be able to continue classes,” says Oumar, a reserved but determined teenager, now 17 years old.

It was a bitter blow. Growing up, there had been no school to go to in Oumar’s home town of Mopti, and after he and his family fled Mali in 2012 as violence was igniting there, life in Mentao camp had given him his first taste of an education.

To keep his schooling going, the boy’s father decided to take him and his siblings to Goudoubo refugee camp, further to the east. There he was registered in a school in the nearby town of Dori, hoping this would allow him to sit the crucial exams that let him progress to secondary level.

But more disruption lay in wait. “The following school year, as soon as the school year started, the same security issues continued in Goudoubo,” he says. “I was very disappointed that once again my school closed and that I was not able to finish the new school year.”

Oumar is over the usual age to start secondary school, something which is common for refugee children, particularly where education is disrupted and there are no accelerated education programmes available.

In Burkina Faso alone, over the past 12 months the number of internally displaced people rose five-fold, reaching 921,000 at the end of June 2020. The country is also host to nearly 20,000 refugees, many of whom have recently fled the camps – seeking safety in other parts of the country or even returning to their homeland.

Across the Sahel, millions have fled indiscriminate attacks by armed groups against both civilians and state institutions – including schools. According to UNICEF, between April 2017 and December 2019 the number of school closures due to violence in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger rose six-fold. By the end of last year, more than 3,300 schools were shut, affecting almost 650,000 children and more than 16,000 teachers.

In Burkina Faso alone, 2,500 schools had closed because of the violence, depriving 350,000 children of access to education – and that was before  coronavirus closed the rest.

On September 9th, the UN marks the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack, with the General Assembly condemning attacks on education and the military use of schools in contravention of international law.

In a ground-breaking report, UNHCR warns the twin scourges of COVID-19 and attacks on schools, targeting teachers and pupils, threatens to destroy hard-won gains in refugee education and destroy the dreams of millions of youngsters.

This year, Oumar thought it was third time lucky. His family moved a few miles down the road from Goudoubo camp to Dori, and he was able to start his first year of secondary school in spite of being older than most of the other students. “Everything was going smoothly,” he says.

“But classes had to stop again – this time because of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Since 1 June, the three school grades that were due to take exams this year have reopened and UNHCR is doing what it can to find places for refugee children.

For the others, UNHCR, with the support of Education Cannot Wait, began buying radios for primary and secondary refugee students to ensure they had the same access as their Burkinabe peers to lessons being broadcast over the airwaves. UNHCR is also working with governments to enable emergency education for displaced children and youth via access to safe distance learning alternatives.

As he waits, Oumar refuses to be downhearted. “I still have the hope that the situation will improve so that I can go back and finish my education,” he says.


Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.


Children in Madomale listen to the JRS radio programme. Christian Marago, accompanies them. All Photos JRS CAR.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, Jesuit Refugee Service is expanding remote learning opportunities for children impacted by the COVID-19 crisis

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Jesuit Refugee Service (Original Story)

While all the educational facilities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have closed their doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, students and teachers have found a new source for learning: the airwaves.

To keep children from falling further behind in the pandemic, the Jesuit Refugee Service is producing a weekday radio education program known as L’École à la Radio (The School on the Radio). Children have been tuning into the broadcast since June every day from 4:30 to 5pm to hear radio lessons broadcast by the Lego ti la Ouaka community radio in Bambari, where JRS is supporting internally displaced persons and local communities with funding from the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The project is reaching preschool and primary students who have not been able to go back to class since March 2020. Before the pandemic, access to quality education was already a challenge for many children affected by conflict, recruitment by armed groups or forced displacement in CAR. Unable to access the safety, hope and protection of a quality learning environment, their education and future are at risk.

To address the unique social and emotional challenges these children face, L’École à la Radio offers important learning and psychosocial supports for children who have been displaced by war and violence. Over 2980 people (children and parents) now listen to the radio broadcast, which is heard within a radius of at least 50 km around Bambari.

Radio lessons are recorded with the participation of 10 children (5 girls and 5 boys) in the classroom, respecting the adequate prevention measures against COVID-19. This hybrid approach empowers children and presents an innovative way to extend in-class lessons to students staying home.

Listening in on the radio lessons. Photo JRS CAR.

“Since I discovered L’École à la Radio, I always lend my radio to my children and other kids in the village from 4:30 to 5 pm, so that they can learn with the radio classes,” says Christian Marago.

Christian is a father of a four and an eight year old, and lives in Madomale village, located 37 km away from Bambari.

L’École à la Radio addresses them directly, especially since children of their ages are the ones talking and doing the show,” he adds.

After contacting Lego ti la Ouaka radio and expressing his enthusiasm for the program, Christian was invited to become one of the sixteen JRS Radio Listening Focal Points who operate within the communities. They accompany the children during the radio emission and help JRS monitoring the development and impact of the program.

For Christian, the program really helps the students to continue learning, at the same time helping parents with the knowledge and tools they need to supervise their children’s learning progress.

“The language [used in the program] is suitable for children and the subjects are adapted to the context of the coronavirus pandemic,” says Christian. “At the same time, they learn about family, good manners, nature and animals… Also, about the existence of the coronavirus and how to protect themselves and the whole community.”

“From my side, I think that L’École à la Radio is one of the best programs broadcast by Lego ti la Ouaka radio in these times,” Christian says.


Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.


Through ECW’s first emergency response window, UNESCO will rehabilitate 40 schools and support 30,000 students to resume learning

4 September 2020, New York – Education Cannot Wait (ECW) today approved US$1.5 million in new education in emergency funding in response to last month’s explosion in Beirut.

The new funding comes just one month after the 4 August 2020 blast, which damaged 140 schools and affected at least 55,000 Lebanese and non-Lebanese students.

Through the ECW grant, UNESCO, in close coordination with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education, will support the rapid rehabilitation of approximately 40 schools in the area of the explosion, allowing at least 30,000 children and youth whose schools were damaged to resume their learning in a physically safe environment during the 2020-2021 school year.

“Beirut has suffered a lot, but will rise again. We need to support the young generation to sustain and this means rehabilitating their damaged schools without delay,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “We know that our strategic partner UNESCO, working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, will be able to rapidly rehabilitate 40 damaged schools for these girls and boys.”

Severe destruction of the schools has been reported by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and education sector, including crumbling walls, broken windows, leaking roofs, broken desks and chairs. School water and sanitation facilities have also been damaged, further exacerbating the ongoing health crisis posed by COVID-19.

Compounding economic and political crises are putting over a million children and youth at risk in Lebanon. Analysis from ECW’s 2019 Annual Report indicates that approximately 631,209 Syrian children and 447,400 vulnerable Lebanese children faced challenges accessing education in 2019.

The approval of today’s additional funding builds on the results from ECW’s US$2.3 million grant for Lebanon, which ran from August 2018 to February 2020.