ECW investment delivered through Save the Children in partnership with Norwegian Refugee Council, Finn Church Aid, and the South Sudan Ministry of General Education and Instruction, delivers textbooks in more than 3,700 primary and secondary schools.

ECW investment delivered through Save the Children in partnership with Norwegian Refugee Council, Finn Church Aid, and the South Sudan Ministry of General Education and Instruction, delivers textbooks in more than 3,700 primary and secondary schools.

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24 March 2021, Juba – The first of over 1.12 million textbooks was handed to school leaders in Juba today as part of a massive program aimed at ensuring out-of-school children are able to learn in South Sudan. The textbooks will play a vital role in the teaching and learning process that gives every child the best possible opportunities for education in South Sudan.

The programme, led by Save the Children in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council, Finn Church Aid, and the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI) is funded by Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The programme is one of the most wide-reaching education resourcing initiatives in South Sudan. More than 1.5 million children – including 1,449,219 primary school pupils and 109,854 secondary school students – in 3,391 primary and 401 secondary schools in the six states of Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity and Warrap will benefit from the books.

“Many children are not learning in South Sudan and one of the factors is that both learners and teachers do not have access to adequate reference materials, guides or textbooks that they need to effectively facilitate quality teaching and learning,” said Rama Hansraj, the Country Director of Save the Children in South Sudan. “We believe that these 1.12 million textbooks will reduce the high pupil- textbook ratio thereby allowing more children to get access to textbooks. Thus, putting books in the hands of learners. These textbooks have come in handy at a time when social distancing is a key requirement to controlling the spread of COVID-19. This means that with more books, we are able to reduce the number of children that come together to share a book.”

The textbooks ratio is expected to be reduced to 1:1 for secondary and primary learners in the targeted six states across South Sudan.

Globally, Save the Children and partners work to ensure that every child receives a good quality education and gains the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the 21st century. Save the Children is committed to coordinating and working with all development partners to ensure that all children have access to safe, inclusive, and quality learning opportunities they need to realize their full potential.

ECW’s US$20 million catalytic grant in South Sudan set in motion a multi-year educational response programme for two years in the country. The programme provides access to pre-primary education, boosts gender equity, prevents early dropouts, and supports children and youth in accessing the psychosocial support they need to recover and rebuild from trauma, conflict and displacement in South Sudan.


  • 1.12 million textbooks distributed in Juba, set to reach 3,792 primary and schools across South Sudan
  • Programme is in response to the 2.2 million children still missing out on education.
  • 1 in 3 schools have been damaged, destroyed, occupied or closed due to conflict, weather events, and COVID-19 in South Sudan.
  • Only 3.5% of girls enrolled in secondary schools, primary school completion rate is the lowest in the world, at less than 10%


Notes to Editors:

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):
ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure.

On Twitter, please follow: @EduCannotWait @YasmineSherif1 @KentPage

Additional information available at: www.educationcannotwait.org

For press inquiries:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@un-ecw.org, +1-917-640-6820
Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735
For other inquiries: info@un-ecw.org

About Save the Children international:

Save the Children has been working with and for children, their families and communities in South Sudan since 1991. We provide children with access to equitable quality education, healthcare and nutrition support, and families with food security and livelihoods assistance. Our child protection programmes support vulnerable children including unaccompanied and separated children and those affected by violence, as well as advocating for children’s rights at national, state and community levels. We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights and we help them fulfil their potential.

For any other inquiries, please contact:

Kangu Tito Justin, Media and Communication Coordinator Save the Children Tito.Justin@savethechildren.org | +211922844458


Nujeen Mustafa is a Syrian refugee, youth advocate and champion for children with disabilities for the UN Refugee Agency.

At just sixteen years old, Nujeen Mustafa made the 3,500-mile journey from Syria to Germany in a steel wheelchair. Nujeen was born with cerebral palsy and spent the majority of her life confined to her apartment in Aleppo, Syria, where she taught herself English watching shows on TV.

As war broke out, she and her family were forced to flee – first to her native Kobane, then to Turkey. Her family didn’t have enough money for them all to make it to safety in Germany, where her brother lived, so her parents stayed in Turkey while she set out with her sister across the Mediterranean, braving inconceivable odds for the chance to have a normal life and an education.

Nujeen’s optimism and defiance when confronting all of her challenges have propelled this young refugee from Syria into the spotlight as the human face of an increasingly dehumanized crisis. Since moving to Germany, Nujeen has continued to tell her remarkable story and to capture the hearts of all who hear her speak.

ECW: Your story of triumph over struggle has inspired people around the world. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like growing up as a girl not able to go to school in Aleppo, Syria, and how you worked to ensure you got an education?  

Nujeen Mustafa: Growing up and not being able to go to school, I realized pretty early on that my life was unusual – but I kind of wanted to do the best with what I had. I mostly noticed it when the kids in the building would go and I wouldn’t, but I was surrounded by a very supportive environment that just made it so easy to live with the fact that there was something missing in the routine of my life.

When I turned about 6 or 7, my older sister taught me how to read and write in Arabic and then it was left up to me to practice. This was when I kind of used television as a way of educating myself and learning how to read and write. Then these mechanisms evolved and the things I wanted to learn also evolved, so I moved on to other things with English – a bit of general knowledge, and a bit of background in every subject and topic that I could find. Of course, my sisters also brought me the schoolbooks for each year when I was growing up. I would finish them in one day because I turned out to be such a bookworm! From then on, when I was old enough to start being self-taught, I just did it.

Of course, I still recognize it was not fair that I was not able to go to school but, as I said, I tried to do the best with what I had. I think this was my way of defying the circumstances that I was in, and it kind of gave birth to this desire to prove myself and prove that I can overcome all these obstacles, even if they are hard. To this day, I think one of my most fundamental traits is the desire to prove that I can do things and that I can accomplish a lot of things that are not expected of me.

ECW: Today, 75 million children and youth caught in emergencies and protracted crises are not able to go to school. Education Cannot Wait and its partners are working to get them back to learning. Why do you think this is so important, particularly for perhaps the most vulnerable: refugee girls with disabilities?

Nujeen Mustafa: I found this question quite strange because it shouldn’t even be a question as to “why” we should educate our children. It just has to be a fact of life, because everyone should know “why.” Children are always emphasized as the future of their countries and communities. But when you do not invest in a portion of the population, which is the population that has a disability, this is just not right. This is a violation of your rights as a human being, your right to education. It is discriminating against you on the basis of your disability, if you don’t get an education. It’s very unfair treatment of young people – of people who should be planning and thinking out the future.

There have been a lot of pledges and resolutions about the importance of education, especially for young people and people with disabilities. To live in this kind of cognitive dissonance, where there is this acknowledgment that this is important and yet there is nothing being done to carry it out, is very concerning. We can all agree that it has very dire consequences on our society and even the living standards of any country.

Education of the public and of youth are factors in all of these things. A prosperous and educated youth means a prosperous and thriving country. There is no logical reason as to why any country would want to ignore its children, its youth, and people with disabilities. It’s really disturbing that I even have to say that. They are not a burden on anybody. They can contribute and they are this kind of untapped treasure, untapped resource, that is not being used sufficiently.

From a human rights point of view, no one has the right to discriminate against you on the basis of something that you have no control over. You don’t make a choice to be born with a disability just as you don’t make a choice to be of a certain ethnicity. So even from that point of view, there is no logical reason as to why this should be happening.

ECW: What key message(s) do you have for world leaders about the urgent, important need to address and fund education for refugees and for children with disabilities in emergency and protracted crises settings?

Nujeen Mustafa: I think the most important thing for decision makers to know is that education needs to always be a priority, even in emergency situations and crisis response. It is not enough to ensure basic living conditions for survivors of conflict or people who are now living through a pandemic. There needs to be an awareness that the future of the entire generation is on the line and their need for an education needs to be prioritized. I know that it can be overwhelming at times, but I think that education needs to be viewed and seen as something as essential and crucial to the well-being of everyone – especially people with disabilities – as providing shelter, food, or water. It needs to be prioritized in emergency situations, whatever they may be. There needs to be an acknowledgement of the vitality of education to their futures and to their lives.

Of course, the situation with COVID-19 is unprecedented in this century, but we should have been better equipped to deal with such an unexpected change in our daily routines and such disruptions in our lives. That just goes back to the point of making sure that education is accessible to all and that everyone, wherever they may be and whatever their circumstances may be, has access to it and is able to smoothly transition from one mode of education to the other. It should have been essential everywhere around the world. We see that countries with a colder climate (where some children are unable to attend school during the winter months) are much better equipped, already having this kind of digital form of attending lessons and school. So, I think that countries all around the world should strive to be on that same level, ready and prepared for any kind of unprecedented situation.

When it comes to people who have fled conflict regions, refugees, and refugees with disabilities, it is not enough to make sure that they survive, but that they live and thrive as individuals. Receiving an education is a building block of that. You can’t say that you are doing them right if you don’t provide them with access to education as soon as possible. Prioritize education as a part of the essential means of survival – prioritize it in every plan of action.

ECW: You wrote an inspiring, best-selling book about your amazing journey: Nujeen: One Girl’s Incredible Journey from War-Torn Syria in a Wheelchair. Could you tell us the three books that have influenced you the most personally and/or in your current studies, and why you’d recommend them for other people to read?

Nujeen Mustafa: One of them is The Time Keeper by one of my favorite authors, Mitch Albom. It tells a story of the first person to measure time. It comments on humanity’s obsession with time, being late, and having clocks all over your environment. People have forgotten to enjoy their lives and actually live them because they’ve become obsessed with time; everyone wants to get everything on time and not be late, to the point where we have forgotten how to enjoy living in the moment. There is a quote that is very inspiring and memorable for me, which is, “when you are measuring time, you are not living it.” It’s a very inspiring and soulful book about enjoying the moment, truly experiencing it, and not being worried about whether you are late or too early. As we see in nature, only humans measure time. Nature and animals are not plagued by worries about being late to the meeting, or being too early, or what the social standard is.

The second one would have to be 1984 by George Orwell… We see it in the way that our phones watch us and how essential they have become to our lives. Even I am guilty of it. I spend my day on an iPad. But there is this voice nagging in the back of my head for my life not to turn into 1984 – using technology in that sense and giving everyone access to my thoughts. Every time we Google Search, there is some kind of record of the question that we thought about at that moment, so I think it’s very unsettling but it is necessary in this day and age.

The third one, a fairly recent read, is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. That book is just a must-read for everyone about perseverance and resilience… even in the most dire and horrifying circumstances. That you could still maintain your humanity, even in a concentration camp. It tells of a lot of horrible, horrifying things and the lengths that we humans can go to. But it was also a message of hope that we could thrive and rise above all that and become better people because of it. So, I think it appeals to me because it essentially says that we are stronger than we thought – even in the most unimaginable, horrifying, terrible circumstances, we can be better and we don’t have to succumb to the desperation and the helplessness. It also talks a good deal about grief and how you can emerge as a stronger person from it; how suffering is also a part of life and that it initiates a part of you and builds you as a person. Your response to it is so crucial. Its essential message, I think, is that there is still hope for humanity. You’re a human being, even in situations of genocide. There are still heroes out there who have lived through it and survived. Not only physically – but emotionally and morally and every other sense of the word. And I just thought that that was inspiring. I think everyone should read it because it gives a message of silver lining, of hope, and just that you can be that person that overcomes these challenges.

ECW: What were the common misconceptions about children with disabilities that you faced as you were growing up?

Nujeen Mustafa: The fifth question is just my favorite. I love to talk about this aspect of having a disability because, where I grew up, disability meant that you were expected to just live on the sidelines and not grow at all as a person – be it academically or personally. I absolutely despised meeting people for the first time because there would be a recount of how I was born and how it was discovered that I had a disability. And then I would see the looks of just people feeling sorry because they thought that I would have no future and no life. That I would just be there, not being an active member of society or contributing anything to my family or to anyone. Just be someone that wouldn’t be of use to anybody. So, I think the misconception that people may have is that we are expected to play into these expectations and act as though we were doomed – but that, of course, is not the case.

I recognize and realize that it depends on the mentality that your first caregivers and family has, and my family was absolutely adamant about me receiving and having what they had. And being as equal to them as possible. I would be hammered on to do homework and learn how to read and write and advance my education and learn English… Of course, I did it on my own, later on, in my teenage years. But there was always pressure to learn a lot about math and to enrich myself intellectually. Even if I couldn’t do it physically. Of course, many of these children didn’t have this kind of supportive and encouraging environment. How society perceived them might have damaged their sense of self and made them very insecure and have a low self-esteem. I consider myself lucky that I grew up in a family that pushed me to be better – that didn’t view me as a kind of a nuisance or as a girl who didn’t have any potential.

So, I think the biggest misconception that society has of these people is that it expects us not to have any ambitions or dreams. That the mere fact of us having a disability should eradicate any glimmer of hope inside of us that these dreams might come true. I encountered that even on my journey here. I would meet people who would be surprised that I spoke English or that I was socially active – and, you know, not at all awkward or hiding from anyone. Even when I was younger, I limited my exposure to that kind of negativity. I just surrounded myself with mostly adults and people who loved me and appreciated me for who I am. And I think that helped. I kind of eliminated any possible person that I thought, okay, this person doesn’t really like me, he is just pitying me or looking at me in a very condescending way. The secret to that was that we, as a collective family and everyone around, were able to kind of stay away from that type of negativity and that kind of mentality that “okay, this person has a disability, so he is useless—he or she is useless.”

ECW: From your own experience, what does inclusive education mean to you and what makes a school accessible for all boys and girls with disabilities?

Nujeen Mustafa: Inclusive education, for me, has a lot of meanings. I only experienced it when I arrived here in Germany and realized how smooth and easy it can be to make education inclusive. Of course, inclusive education means not just enrolling someone with a disability in a school, it’s about accommodating their needs without making them feel isolated or separated or something different than the other students who may not have a disability. It’s not just about making the restroom or making the building accessible, it’s about capacity building.

For example – I always laugh and find it very encouraging and impressive about what I experience here – there is nothing that I do, or that I go through, that people my age do differently. I’m also applying for apprenticeships, filling out applications, filling out paperwork, and working in accountancy. I study business, that’s what we do. And I don’t think that the experience of a person who doesn’t have a disability differs so much from mine. There’s no discrepancy—there’s no, “this level is for you and this level is for that person.” It’s more about accommodating your needs and making sure that you have full access to whatever you may encounter in your professional life and you are well-versed in whatever it is that you are trying to specialize in. I would say that I have the same amount of experience in business as anyone in the same grade, or level, as I am now. So, having a disability, they wouldn’t level it down for someone who is disabled. They would accommodate your needs in such a way that you get the full content and that you grasp everything that is needed of you and that you learn about.

That, for me, is what inclusiveness means. It’s about finding methods that would make your working environment better—and equal to your non-disabled peers. It’s about making sure that you receive the same kind of treatment and that you understand the same curriculum. That your needs are accommodated. For example, if somebody’s disability is in speech, there would be all kinds of assistance to him or her, using iPads or specific programs on their PCs, and it’s very encouraging because we know – I personally know – that nobody is dumbing stuff down for me to grasp and nobody’s going a level down just to teach me about it. I know that I would be as equally qualified to a co-worker that is not disabled. So, this, for me, is what inclusive education means. It’s about accommodating the needs of a person with a disability so that it’s integrated into a non-disabled structure or a curriculum that might not originally be for people with disabilities.

For me, the key point is not isolation—I don’t want to be taught separately—it’s about the merging of education, ideas, and concepts, so that everyone can benefit and absorb information equally and effectively. And that would be the main goal – the optimal option – for everyone, just to merge these ideas and methods so that every school in the world can and would receive a person with disability.

I also think that integrating people with disabilities into schools with people who have no disability is essential in changing any misconceptions that non-disabled people might have about people with disabilities. Because exposure lets you know how that person lives. You’ll know that he’s not pathetic, he doesn’t want you pity. You learn that he’s just like you—he or she is ambitious, is working on his plans, has career plans, has dreams he wants to achieve, and that he can be independent. He or she can have fun and dance and do stuff. And they will go far in life.



As the world marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic on 11 March 2021, initial progress reports on Education Cannot Wait’s (ECW) COVID-19 emergency responses to date show that the Fund and its partners have already reached over 9 million vulnerable girls and boys in the midst of the worst education crisis of our lifetime.

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency education programmes supported by Education Cannot Wait are providing hope and protection to girls and boys in over 30 emergencies and protracted crises world-wide  

This press release is also available in Spanish, French, and Arabic.

10 March 2021, New York – As the world marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic on 11 March 2021, initial progress reports on Education Cannot Wait’s (ECW) COVID-19 emergency responses to date show that the Fund and its partners have already reached over 9 million vulnerable girls and boys in the midst of the worst education crisis of our lifetime.

Within days of the declaration of the pandemic one year ago, ECW rapidly allocated $23 million in COVID-19 emergency grants to support continuous access to learning opportunities and to protect the health and wellbeing of girls and boys living in emergencies and protracted crises. Shortly after, ECW continued to scale up its response with a second allocation of $22.4 million – specifically focusing on refugee, internally displaced and host community children and youth.

“During COVID-19, our investments have been life-sustaining for children and youth enduring crisis and conflict around the world. Despite the pandemic, our government partners, civil society and UN colleagues have been working hand in hand with communities to deliver remote learning and continued education in safe and protective learning environments,” said Yasmine Sherif, the Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Yet, so many children and youth have been left behind, as financial resources are required to reach them. We risk losing entire generations of young people who are already struggling in emergencies and protracted crisis.”

The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and the Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Steering Group, reinforced the urgent need for more funding to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 4 through Education Cannot Wait – during and after the pandemic: “I call on all education stakeholders to join Education Cannot Wait’s efforts in mobilizing an additional $400 million to immediately support the continued education of vulnerable children and youth caught in humanitarian crises, stressing the need to move with speed. We cannot afford to lose more time, nor to let millions of refugee and conflict-affected children, their families and teachers lose hope.”

In total, ECW’s COVID-19 emergency grants target 32 million vulnerable children and youth (over 50% of whom are girls) in over 30 countries affected by armed conflict, forced displacement, climate-related disasters and other crises.  For these girls and boys, the pandemic has generated a ‘crisis within a crisis’, further entrenching pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. Without access to the protection and hope of an education, they face multiple risks, including child labor, child marriage and early pregnancy, human trafficking, forced recruitment into armed groups, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence.

ECW’s COVID-19 emergency grants to over 80 United Nations agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations working on the ground in 33 crisis-affected countries and contexts support a wide range of interventions ranging from pre-primary (19%), primary (56%) and secondary (25%) education as well as non-formal education. These include:

  • Remote learning: with the total disruption of the usual education systems in emergency-affected areas, ECW grants support alternative delivery models, including informal education materials at the household level, as well as scaling up distance education programmes, particularly via interactive radio.
  • A focus on gender: gender-specific actions were integrated at the design stage of the response, supporting rapid gender assessment and targeted approaches for girls. Over half of the children and youth reached to date are girls and 61% of all teachers trained are women.
  • A focus on forcibly displaced population: 7 million refugee and internally displaced children and youth are specifically targeted through ECW-supported interventions.
  • Safe and protective learning environment: activities improve access to water, hygiene and sanitation to protect children and their communities against the risks of COVID-19. Messaging, tailored to local languages and contexts, provides practical advice about how to stay safe, including through handwashing and social distancing.
  • Mental health and psychological support: this includes COVID-19-specific guidance and training for parents and teachers to promote the resilience and the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth. ECW also supports all children and adolescents to receive instruction in social emotional learning.

In addition to its 12-month emergency grants portfolio, ECW also invests in multi-year resilience education programmes that provide longer-term holistic learning opportunities for children and youth caught in protracted crises to achieve quality education outcomes.

More information on ECW’s COVID-19 response is available here.

Download ECW’s COVID-19 response factsheet.


Spanish version

Lima, March 2021 – “On behalf of the Government of Peru, I would like to thank the commitment of the United Nations, partner governments such as Canada and civil society organizations for working together on the challenges we face in education, especially those that involve the most disadvantaged children and adolescents, such as migrants”, with these words, Peru´s Minister of Education Ricardo Cuenca welcomed the of the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) Programme, which seeks to respond to the challenges of education in emergencies.

ECW is a global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. “We first worked with ECW in 2019 to respond to the Venezuelan migration crisis and now we are starting a multi-year development programme that will allow us to directly reach the migrant population settled in Lima and the region of La Libertad,” said Ana de Mendoza, UNICEF Representative in Peru.

The multi-year programme called “Promoting Inclusive Education with equal opportunities for migrant and refugee children and adolescents in host communities in Peru” will be implemented from 2021 to 2023. The goal is to improve the education of 30,000 migrant? children, adolescents and their families. The programme starts with a “seed” fund of US$ 7,400,000 and is expected to raise, by the end of the project, a total of US$ 13 million.

Igor Garafulic, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Peru noted that the focus of this multi-year programme is the social integration of refugees and migrants, including the full inclusion of children and adolescents in quality education. “We welcome efforts to open doors for them. The evidence we have from before the pandemic confirms that migration has had a positive impact and can have an even greater positive impact on our economy and our society.”

As the project launch coincided with the celebration of International Women’s Day, Minister Cuenca highlighted that migrant girls and adolescents face a triple challenge to stay in school: “They must ask for permission to study because many times there are no conditions for them to keep doing so; they have to try to insert themselves into spaces that are not theirs; and, finally, they must break with cultural norms that tell them that what is different is scary”.

Ralph Jansen, Ambassador of Canada to Peru, stated that interventions such as this one must have a clear gender approach: “This approach guarantees the fulfillment of other rights and helps to guarantee a dignified life. Everything done for the benefit of migrant children and adolescents has an impact on their emotional health, and this is a fundamental aspect in this intervention”.

The project has five expected outcomes. The first is to achieve better access to an inclusive and quality education, the second is staying in the educational system. The third objective is to develop life skills and socio-emotional capabilities. The fourth is that authorities and officials improve decision-making on access and educational inclusion based on available data and evidence. Finally, the ECW project seeks to promote the mobilization of resources.

This new multi-year ECW programme was designed by a working group made up of the Ministry of Education, RET, Plan International, Save the Children, UNESCO and UNICEF. By joint agreement, UNICEF has led the programme since 4 January  2021.  The Steering Committee is made up of the Ministry of Education, the Embassy of Canada, the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and the Roundtable for the Fight against Poverty.

 Para mayor información www.unicef.org/peru ,o en UNICEF favor contactar a Marilú Wiegold al celular 99757-3218, e-mail mwiegold@unicef.org y/o a Elsa Ursula al celular 991982525, e-mail eursula@unicef.org y/o a Consuelo Ramos al celular 999089558, e-mail cramos@unicef.org


ECW’s First Emergency Response grant will reach over 6,000 girls and boys in the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions of Niger with expanded COVID-19 prevention measures, new classrooms and integrated educational support

French version

9 March 2021, New York – The education system in Niger faces major challenges: COVID-19, climate change, insecurity, armed attacks on schools and other factors are pushing refugees and internally displaced girls and boys out of school and into the shadows and margins of society.

To address these immediate, critical challenges – and to support Niger in achieving its goals for equitable and inclusive quality education as outlined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – Education Cannot Wait (ECW) announced today an additional US$1 million grant to the UN Refugee Agency in Niger.

“The uprooted children and adolescents and their host-communities in Tillabéri and Tahoua endure unspeakable suffering. Reports allege terror, kidnapped teachers and burnt down schools. We must not only condemn such attacks, we need to take action” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. “We can all take action and Education Cannot Wait is therefore partnering with UNHCR in Niger to support their admirable efforts on the ground to deliver education combined with protection now.

“The beginning of 2021 has been particularly dramatic, with several attacks having forced tens of thousands of people to flee, and depriving children of school,” says Alessandra Morelli, UNHCR Representative to Niger. “Education is without a doubt the strongest tool to protect children and youth affected by armed conflict from death, injury and exploitation. Education alleviates the psychological impact of armed conflict by offering routine, stability and psychosocial support.”

“We are grateful for this strategic partnership with ECW, which will contribute to the objectives of UNHCR’s refugee education strategy that aims to support access to inclusive, equitable and quality education in national systems, create conditions in which children and young people can learn, thrive, be more resilient, and become agents of peaceful coexistence who contribute to their society,” Morelli added.

The 12-month grant will be implemented by UNHCR in partnership with the Government of Niger and other key stakeholders. Building on ECW’s recently announced US$11.1 million in catalytic grant funding for Niger’s multi-year resilience programme, the fast-acting investment will reach over 6,000 crisis-affected girls and boys in the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions of Niger.

The new programme will: expand COVID-19 prevention measures with the rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities; help build and rehabilitate classrooms and learning centres; and provide teachers and students with the training, tools and resources they need to respond to the unique needs of children and youth who have been displaced by ongoing violence in the region. The progamme has a specific focus on ensuring access to learning opportunities for girls and children with disabilities.

Niger hosts the largest number of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Central Sahel. At the end of 2020, UNHCR Niger registered 573,059 refugees, IDPs and asylum seekers in Niger, resulting from years of widespread insecurity and armed attacks. The Tillabéri and Tahoua regions in particular continue to face an unpredictable and volatile security environment, which has led to the displacement of 138,229 Niger citizens, adding to the already existing caseload of 60,244 Malian refugees in both regions as well as an estimated 7,000 Burkinabe refugees in the Niger-Burkina border area. The start of 2021 saw renewed attacks and secondary forced displacement.


Notes to Editors

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Programme Outcomes

Outcome 1 – Crisis-affected girls and boys access education services

UNHCR will construct or improve, as well as equip 15 classrooms with a capacity of 50 students (creating an additional capacity for 750 students) in durable material. Next to the construction of the classrooms, annexes will be built according to the needs identified through different multisectoral evaluations carried out in the intervention areas. Special attention will be given to physical security of girls and boys in the classrooms by constructing fences around the schools. Children with disabilities will benefit from improved accessibility.

To continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR will equip the new classrooms and classrooms in need of rehabilitation with appropriate WASH facilities.  A total number of 1,200 persons, including teachers, will be trained on WASH and COVID prevention.

In addition, UNHCR will offer material support to improve the learning environment. Over 6,000 girls and boys, including adolescents and children with special needs, will receive a schooling kit with notebooks, pens and books. 88 teachers will be equipped with a didactic kit, which includes books and material in function of the discipline taught.

Furthermore, awareness raising campaigns on back to school and school retention will be organized. UNHCR will organize 12 mass sensitization campaigns and 2 regional workshops, diffuse messages through media, set up commemorative events linked to education and distribute visibility material.

Outcome 2 – Formerly out-of-school boys and girls completed an accelerated education program (AEP)

Coordinated with the educational authorities, UNHCR will support the establishment of remedial classes for some 1,000 students, mostly Burkinabe refugees and IDPs out-of-school. The authorities will train 100 teachers (50% female teachers) for 5 days and offer them fixed-term contracts of three months to deliver remedial classes, which will be supervised by the Government. The content of these classes will be developed by educational authorities such as inspectors, pedagogic counselors of primary education and the regional directorates of primary and secondary education.

Outcome 3 – Crisis-affected girls and boys in ECW-supported schools feel safe in their classrooms

To improve the quality of education, UNHCR will organize teacher trainings on a various set of subjects. Next to WASH, teachers will receive training on COVID-19 preventive measures, SGBV, child protection issues, mental health and psychosocial support, code of conduct, positive disciplining, conflict management, social cohesion, disaster prevention and risk management.

Finally, UNHCR will ensure that ECW-supported learning spaces have a functioning school-management committee and/or parent-teacher association. UNHCR will map, set up and train committees. The members of 30 community educational structures will receive training on their roles and responsibilities, the management of these structures and community mobilization.


About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):
ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings around the world. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure.

On Twitter, please follow: @EduCannotWait  @YasmineSherif1  @KentPage
Additional information available at: www.educationcannotwait.org

To support our efforts and donate to Education Cannot Wait, text ‘ECW’ to 707070 (*from the US and Canada only) or visit www.pledgeling.com/ECW.

For press inquiries:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@un-ecw.org, +1-917-640-6820
Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735

For other inquiries: info@un-ecw.org

International Women’s Day, 2021 Every Girl Has a Right to An Education

The following opinion piece is part of series to mark the upcoming International Women’s Day, March 8.

NEW YORK, Mar 7 2021 (IPS) – Access to an inclusive quality education is a universal human right. When the inherent right to a good education is ignored or denied, the consequences are severe. For a girl in country of conflict or forced displacement, the impact is brutally multiplied.

Besides their already marginalized role in war-torn countries or as refugees, adolescent girls and girls are being disproportionately affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic broke in early 2020, some 39 million girls had their education disrupted as a direct result of humanitarian crises. Of these, 13 million girls had been forced out of school completely.

Such is the level of discrimination that, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, refugee girls are only half as likely to be enrolled in secondary school as boys. There is a two in three chance girls in crisis settings won’t even start secondary school. At primary level girls in crisis settings are two and a half times more likely to be out of school.

In crisis settings, adolescent girls are more likely to be married by 18 than to finish school. Early pregnancies, gender-based violence and sexual and physical exploitation are realities faced by millions of girls daily. Take a moment and reflect on this brutal reality. Imagine if these figures were the reality of our own adolescent daughters.

The UNFPA projects that the diverse consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic could result in 13 million additional child marriages between 2020 and 2030. These traumatic experiences lead to higher dropout rates, perpetuating cycles of exploitation and entrenching millions in poverty. Such is the excruciating consequences of girls already enduring conflicts and forced displacement and now surviving another threat: the pandemic.

Providing girls and adolescent girls in crisis with an education is absolutely essential today in order to empower them and bring hope. Their access to an inclusive quality education during already challenging circumstances is as transformative for them as human beings arising from the ashes of hopelessness, as it is for their societies in urgent need of empowered girls and women to build back better.

Studies show that increased access to education dramatically raises their lifetime earnings, national economic growth rates go up, child marriage rates decline, and child and maternal mortality fall. Girls’ education breaks down cycles of exploitation, protecting and empowering young girls and adolescents to reach their potentials and become change-makers. And, the world need change-makers more than ever, not the least in countries affected by conflicts and displacement.

The World Bank estimates that if every girl worldwide were to receive 12 years of quality schooling, whether or not in a crisis setting, they would double their lifetime earnings, with the aggregate value running into trillions of dollars.

Education provides girls with practical skills and tools; it supports them emotionally and empower them process their traumatic experiences; it prepares them to face their unique challenges, helping them to not only become productive members of society, but more and more, to become confident leaders of their societies.

It is a small crowd right at the top, however. Only about 20 countries have a female head of state or government, and fewer have at least 50 percent women in the national cabinet. But as COVID-19 has demonstrated, several have played decisive roles in protecting our humanity on the basis of universal human rights.

So, what does the pathway to leadership look like when you are young? How do we get young girls in crisis situations into education and then later to play important roles in the decision-making of their communities, their economies and nations?

Education Cannot Wait – the global fund launched at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit to deliver quality education for those left furthest behind, that is 75 million vulnerable children and youth in countries affected by armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate-induced disasters and protracted crises. At Education Cannot Wait we place girls and adolescent girls at the forefront of our work – because it is their inaliable human right and we believe in them as the change-makers. We take affirmative action: sixty percent of our total spending is geared at an inclusive quality education for girls.

Afghanistan, for example, is one of the most dangerous countries for children because of ongoing insecurity and conflict. UNICEF estimates that 60 percent of the 3.7 million children out of school are girls. Some 17 percent of Afghan girls will marry before the age of 15 and 46 percent will marry before they reach 18. Early marriages contribute significantly to school dropout rates.
The Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan, an ECW implementing partner, reaches out to community leaders to deliver real results for girls in the most remote areas of Afghanistan, who until recently were held back from going to school and from receiving a quality education.

ECW has given priority in Afghanistan to female teacher recruitment. This is being achieved in Herat, where 97 percent of teachers are women and 83 percent of students in accelerated learning classes are girls. The first year of ECW’s Multi-Year Resilience Programme – with teaching starting in May 2019 – saw some 3,600 classes established in nine of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. This required newly recruited teachers, 46 percent of whom are women, to teach 122,000 children. Nearly 60 percent of the enrolled children are girls.

In Rodat district in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, for example, community stakeholders and religious elders agreed the lack of qualified female teachers was hindering girls’ access to education, and immediately set about to find one. It was no easy task but eventually a female graduate in chemistry and biology was hired and she has turned into a beacon of hope, helping some 40 girls return to classes.

This emphasis on girls’ education is crucial for our future as a human family and the priority must be with those girls and adolescent girls left furthest behind. As Deputy-Secretary of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, recently stated: “Girls’ education is particularly under threat in emergencies and for children on the move and we need to continue to empower this next generation of women leaders through a quality education.”

On March 8 we celebrate International Women’s Day with this year’s theme of ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’. From the perspective of those living in developed countries, what that equal future might look like for girls in crises settings has been perversely highlighted by the grim consequences of the new coronavirus world. As each month of lockdowns in rich countries passes, reports mount up of the mental health issues and child abuse being suffered by those unable to get to their normal safe learning environment at school. Girls especially are at risk and the ones more likely to be pressed into domestic chores and subject to discrimination – deprived of a future.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group, reminds us that the world in 2030 risks being as far away from meeting the Sustainable Development Goals for education (SDG4) as we are now – unless we act decisively. No one should be left behind and that means addressing support needed by over 75 million children and youth in need of urgent education support in crisis-hit countries.

Education cannot wait for a conflict or crisis to be over so that crisis affected children and youth can resume normal life, or refugee children can go home. Protracted crisis often last for decades and families caught up in conflicts spend an average of 17 years as refugees. When education is denied to children, hopes for a better, the last glimmer of hope is extinguished.

Education Cannot Wait is about hope and action. We were established to accelerate the race for meeting Sustainable Development Goal 4 in crisis and disasters. By bringing together all actors in both the humanitarian and development community, we sprint forward to meet the deadline of 2030. Thanks to host-governments, UN agencies, civil society and communities, we move fast, effectively and efficiently. However, a quality education for girls and adolescent girls in crisis requires financial investments. Provided that the funding is available, we can together win this race for girls’ education. Of this, we have no doubt.

The author is Director, Education Cannot Wait

Source: http://www.ipsnews.net/2021/03/international-womens-day-2021every-girl-right-education/


Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), today launched a new toolkit to support stronger integration of gender equality in education responses for children and youth in countries affected by emergencies and protracted crises.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2021 on 8 March 2021 – ECW, INEE and UNGEI – three partners working together for gender equality in education in emergencies (EiE), have joined forces to launch a toolkit promoting gender-responsive and inclusive education interventions in emergency & protracted crises settings.

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3 March 2021, New York – Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), today launched a new toolkit to support stronger integration of gender equality in education responses for children and youth in countries affected by emergencies and protracted crises.

Armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate-induced disasters, health emergencies and other crises increase barriers to safe, quality education, especially for vulnerable children and youth. Girls, boys, women and men experience these barriers to education in different ways, resulting in an exacerbation of pre-existing gender inequalities and vulnerabilities. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to cause unprecedented disruptions to learning worldwide for millions of crisis-affected girls and boys.

“As the world strives to address and recover from global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must apply lessons learnt from previous crises. We know the tragic hardship that looms ahead for millions of girls and other vulnerable children and youth living in crisis settings. We can’t say we did not know. Unless we protect and empower them urgently with the safety, hope and opportunity of quality, inclusive education, we will have failed both them and ourselves. There is no excuse not to act now,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. “In launching this new toolkit with our partners, we appeal to all education stakeholders to join us in putting gender equality at the centre of our collective emergency response to the pandemic. At Education Cannot Wait, we are committed to making girls’ education a reality across our investments, boldly, firmly and passionately.”

Previous health emergencies, like Ebola, Zika and SARS, led to school closures which disproportionately affected girls and women. In crises, adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable and face increased risks of sexual exploitation, gender-based violence, child marriage and early pregnancy. This is proving to be the case with the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis conducted by UNHCR and the Malala Fund already show that 50 per cent of refugee girls in secondary school may not ever return when their classrooms open. This is why the new ‘EiE-GenKit’ comes as a timely, ground-breaking resource for aid practitioners to ensure education in emergencies interventions are both gender-responsive and inclusive.

“Education plays a key role in redefining gender norms in any situation, but especially in humanitarian situations, where a good education that is gender-transformative can break cycles of violence and promote tolerance and reconciliation,” said Antara Ganguli, Director of the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, “We must harness this potential and ensure that all learners of all genders are able to contribute equally and positively to their communities’ recovery, as a cornerstone of sustainable peace and development”.

When gender-responsive, quality, inclusive education is available to all – including crisis-affected girls and boys – it has the potential to transform children’s futures, build up societies and lead to sustainable peace. The ‘EiE-GenKit’ equips education practitioners with the tools to achieve that vision.

“Now is the time to leverage the power of education in emergencies. Together we can reverse gender inequalities and transform education for women and girls, men and boys. We must commit to leave no one behind,” said Dean Brooks, Director of the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies.

The ‘EiE-GenKit’ was developed over two years through an extensive consultation process involving the review of over 150 existing education in emergencies and gender resources, with contributions from over 80 global, regional and country level gender and EiE experts and other stakeholders.

The toolkit is based on internationally recognised minimum standards and guidelines and is closely aligned with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Gender Handbook, the INEE Minimum Standards for Education and the INEE Guidance Note on Gender.


Notes to editors:

For more information and to download the EiE-GenKit, visit:  www.ungei.org/publication/eie-genkit

For press inquiries:

Education Cannot Wait:

Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@un-ecw.org, +1-917-640-6820

Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):

ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings around the world. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure.

UN Girls’ Education Initiative:

Gloria Diamond, gdiamond@ungei.org

Emilie Rees-Smith, ereessmith@unicef.org

About the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI): 

UNGEI is a global, intergenerational partnership united by a shared commitment to advancing gender equality in and through education. UNGEI provides a platform for coordinated advocacy and collective action in order to break down barriers to education, close the gender gap and unlock its transformative power for all girls, everywhere. For more than two decades the UNGEI partnership has been championing gender-responsive education systems, policies and practices – speaking out as one and holding the international community to account.

Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

Laura Davison: laura.davison@inee.org

Lauren Gerken: lauren.gerken@inee.org

About INEE:

The Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) is an open, global network that works to ensure all persons the right to quality education and a safe learning environment in emergencies and post-crisis recovery. INEE is composed of more than 18,000 practitioners, students, teachers, staff from UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, donors, governments (including Ministries of Education), and universities who work together within a humanitarian and development framework. INEE serves its members through the core functions of community-building, convening diverse stakeholders, maintaining knowledge management, amplifying and advocating, facilitating and learning, and providing members with the resources and support they need to carry out their work on education in emergencies.