Education Must Come First

Article re-posted with permission from Project Syndicate.
Arabic
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Disruptions to education resulting from COVID-19, violent conflict, and climate change are leaving crisis-affected girls and boys ever-further behind. It is hard to imagine a better investment than keeping these children in school.

NEW YORK – COVID-19 is pushing the world to the brink. The pandemic has killed more than 4.7 million people, caused global GDP to decline by 4.6% in 2020, and pushed 119-124 million more people into extreme poverty. Today, nearly one in three people globally do not have enough food to eat, while conflicts and climate-change-induced natural disasters are forcing families from their homes. And the resulting school disruptions are leaving crisis-affected children ever-further behind.

When world leaders launched Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations’ global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, 75 million children and youth globally were being denied their right to an education as a result of conflict, displacement, and natural disaster.

Fast forward to the present. As COVID-19 continues to ravage the world’s least-developed countries, and with other crises on the rise, the number of children who are out of school has increased to an estimated 128 million. This is a rough estimate that will likely increase as the world’s multiplying crises deepen, and it is already more than the population of Japan, or the populations of France and Italy combined. At the same time, two in three students globally are still affected by school closures. Many of them, particularly girls, may never return to full-time education, raising the risk of a surge in child marriage and child labor.

Education is the foundation for peace, stability, economic prosperity, and social progress. With the pandemic, climate change, and geopolitical shifts placing the world at an inflection point that will define the trajectory of human development for generations to come, we must move urgently to make education a top priority.

At this year’s UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked leaders to rethink how we allocate resources and respond to global challenges as we race to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. It is hard to imagine a better investment than education.

For starters, investing in education for all – including crisis-affected children – could contribute significantly to long-term economic growth. Studies indicate that each additional year of learning can raise incomes by 8-10%. Likewise, the World Bank estimates that enabling every girl to complete 12 years of education could generate an additional $15-30 trillion in lifetime productivity and earnings.

Research also shows that violent conflict drops by up to 37% when girls and boys have equal access to education. And closing gender gaps in education can contribute to curbing climate change and hunger, and to fostering respect for human rights. A generation of women professionals and leaders could be empowered to break cycles of poverty, violence, displacement, and hunger. In fact, the economic gains from expanding girls’ education alone could far outweigh the financial costs of the necessary investments, yielding benefits lasting for generations.

For businesses, this economic windfall promises to create new markets, promote stability in regions where there is now chaos, and strengthen the long-term viability of investments. Entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America will gain pathways to establish a new generation of enterprises.

For governments, the promise of faster economic growth means more revenue. And more resources will enable policymakers to respond more strongly to the climate crisis, bolster environmental protection, build roads and productive infrastructure, and provide basic health care, education, and social services.

But children caught in conflict zones and on the brink of starvation will reap the greatest benefits. For them, quality education means safe spaces to learn, mental-health services, school-based nutrition programs, and access to water and sanitation. Just $220 annually can provide a child living in a crisis setting with a holistic quality education, whereas internal displacement costs the global economy over $20 billion a year, or about $390 per displaced person.

While some progress has been made, more needs to be done now. At a recent global roundtable co-organized by the United Kingdom, Canada, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and Education Cannot Wait, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, highlighted World Bank estimates indicating that meeting the educational needs of refugee children alone will cost over $4.8 billion per year.

We must catalyze the investments needed to fill this gap. Specifically, public donors, the private sector, and key stakeholders such as philanthropic foundations, high-net-worth individuals, and local governments must urgently mobilize hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding for Education Cannot Wait.

As we rethink humanitarian and development interventions in the twenty-first century, education must be central to our response to the multiplying disruptions associated with COVID-19, violent conflict, and climate change. We must take bold action now. For the millions of children whose future is threatened by today’s crises, education cannot wait.

CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS APPLAUD U.S. FOR $37 MILLION CONTRIBUTION TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT

View the statement on the Global Campaign for Education.

Washington, D.C., September 29, 2021 – As organizations committed to ensuring that all children and adolescents affected by crisis and conflict achieve an education, we applaud the U.S. Government for its September 27, 2021, announcement of $37 million in funding to Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

Delivered through USAID and the U.S. Department of State, this funding will support ECW’s global education work and includes dedicated support to build resilient education systems in conflict-affected communities in northern Mali. It demonstrates the leadership role the U.S. has taken in providing education in crisis and conflict settings and its long-standing support to ECW, the only global fund for education in emergencies.

The U.S. joined Germany, the European Union/European Commission, The LEGO Foundation, France, Switzerland, and Porticus in announcing a total of $138.1 million in new contributions to ECW on the sidelines of this year’s United Nations General Assembly. In a statement released by ECW, USAID Administrator Samantha Power noted that, “Education Cannot Wait is an educational lifeline in dozens of crisis-affected countries globally. We look forward to continued cooperation to increase access to education, improved learning outcomes, and to reach the most marginalized students.”

Continued support for ECW during these challenging times is imperative. The U.S. Government has been a key ECW partner since its inception in 2016 and we are encouraged to see this support remain strong as we confront the long-term educational impacts of COVID-19, record levels of forced displacement, and an increase in natural disasters.

“It is crucial to increase funding for inclusive education and early childhood support to prevent lost generations of learners and help young people reach their potential – especially in emergency settings and for girls, children and youth with disabilities, and all traditionally marginalized groups. GCE-US applauds the U.S. Government’s commitment to ECW, and the funding could not come at a better time,” said Jennifer Rigg, Executive Director, Global Campaign for Education-US.

“Refugees and other forcibly displaced persons are facing unprecedented challenges, including limited and disrupted access to education,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “By focusing on the educational needs of students affected by displacement, ECW is filling a vacuum and creating opportunities for students and teachers in conflict settings and countries in crisis around the world that otherwise wouldn’t exist.”

“These funds will be helpful to reach the most crisis-affected and unreached children and adolescents,” said Bhim Bahadur BK, Director, PDRC International.

“As a partner with ECW in places like Mali, Niger, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe as well as a member of its Executive Committee, I can testify firsthand how critical these resources are and the value-for-money that ECW interventions represent,” said Marco Grazia, Global Director for Child Protection & Education in Emergencies, World Vision International. “This much-welcomed and much-needed U.S. contribution will significantly contribute to ensuring the right to quality education for the most marginalized children in crisis and conflict contexts.”

The new $37 million contribution complements $38 million in U.S. contributions since 2016 for a total of more than $75 million, nearly doubling U.S. government support. With robust leadership from Congressional champions, the U.S. Congress included $25 million in funding for ECW in the final FY20 and FY21 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bills as well as the FY22 House-passed bill.

These funds will help accelerate the impact of ECW’s education in emergencies investments, which have already reached more than 4.6 million crisis-affected children and adolescents. ECW’s COVID-19 response has reached an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys in 32 countries.

For more information, please contact Giulia McPherson, Director of Advocacy & Operations, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Chair, Education in Emergencies Working Group, Global Campaign for Education-US, at giulia.mcpherson@jrsusa.org or 202-629-5942.

Signatories:

GERMANY ANNOUNCES €50 MILLION IN NEW, ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT FOR CRISIS-AFFECTED CHILDREN AND YOUTH

‘We must not accept a global education crisis. We need to act now, because we know that in times of crisis, education can offer stability, protection and prospects for the future.’

German

27 September 2021, New York – The Government of Germany today announced €50 million (approximately US$58.6 million) in new, additional funding for 2022 to support the Multi-Year Resilience Programmes of Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

The new funding brings Germany’s total contributions to over US$137 million. With this generous new announcement, Germany becomes the second largest donor to the ECW global trust fund, following the United Kingdom.

“We all see the dramatic crises worldwide. Children and young people suffer the most from hunger, violence, and lack of education. Every child has a right to education. Thus, I am proud to announce that Germany will commit €50 million to Education Cannot Wait,“ said Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany.

“We must not accept a global education crisis. We need to act now, because we know that in times of crisis, education can offer stability, protection and prospects for the future. And it can also have a positive impact in terms of integration and can help promote democracy and peace,” said Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany. “We support and endorse the multi-year resilience programmes via which ECW is strengthening the resilience of education systems worldwide. This is why ECW will also continue to be Germany’s key partner for promoting education in emergency situations and persistent crisis in the future.”

The support from Germany comes at a critical time as world leaders step up to address the interconnected crises of armed conflicts, COVID-19, forced displacement climate change and other challenges, which are pushing millions of vulnerable children and adolescents out of school and disrupting progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG4, which calls for universal, equitable education for all by 2030.

“I would like to thank the Government of Germany and the German people for these generous supports and continued partnership. Germany is a leading force in our efforts to reach the world’s most vulnerable children and adolescents with the power, hope and opportunity of a quality education. These girls and boys have an inherent human right to go to school, and to find safety and protection in quality learning environments,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “This strategic donation is a call to action and a strong signal of Germany’s important contribution to achieving universal and equitable education. We urge additional strategic partners to follow suit and join our collective efforts to mobilize millions more to leave no one behind.”

Through its innovative multi-year resilience programmes and first emergency responses, ECW has already reached more than 4.6 million crisis-affected children and adolescents.

The Fund’s COVID-19 education in emergency response has provided distance learning, life-saving health messages and other supports to an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys.

ECW’s multi-year resilience progammes bridge the divide between humanitarian interventions and longer-term development aid in countries affected by protracted crises. These multi-year investments support holistic education services for the most vulnerable children and youth, including girls, marginalized communities, refugees, internally displaced children and children with disabilities.

EUROPEAN UNION/EUROPEAN COMMISSION ANNOUNCES €25 MILLION TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT FOR CRISIS-AFFECTED CHILDREN AND YOUTH

‘Team Europe has to date contributed to more than 40% of the funding of Education Cannot Wait, and the new €25 million contribution from the EU will further support it to reach the most vulnerable children and bring them back to education.’

27 September 2021, New York – The European Union/European Commission today announced €25 million (approx. US$29.3 million) in new funding to support Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

The new funding brings the EU/EC total contributions to Education Cannot Wait to over US$62.3 million.

“We want all children to be born with the same opportunities. All too often, the fate and lives of our children are determined by the lottery of birth. This is why I am pleased to announce that Europe will be donating €25 million to the Education Cannot Wait global fund. An investment in education is an investment in a better world,” said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

“We must unite to put the SDGs back on track. As we continue to witness, we can never take access to education for granted. Team Europe has, to date, contributed to more than 40% of the funding of Education Cannot Wait, and the new €25 million contribution from the EU will further support it to reach the most vulnerable children and bring them back to education,” said European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen.

This generous, expanded support from the EU/EC was announced on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly during ECW’s High-Level Steering Group meeting today. Along with other notable contributions, this important new funding will accelerate the impact, scope and reach of ECW investments across more than 30 countries across the globe.

“I am deeply grateful for the generous and continued strong support to Education Cannot Wait’s mission by the European Commission. I would like to thank the EU and the people of Europe for making it possible to reach millions of children and youth left furthest behind in the most difficult circumstances of brutal conflicts, punishing climate-induced disasters and as dispossessed refugees. The European Union’s leadership in putting education first enables us to deliver with both speed and quality at a time when the world needs action to achieve universal and equitable education,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

ECW’s Multi-Year Resilience Programmes and First Emergency Response investments have already reached 4.6 vulnerable children and adolescents. The Fund’s COVID-19 education in emergency response has provided distance learning, life-saving health messages and other support to an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys.

Armed conflicts, COVID-19, forced displacement, climate change impacts and protracted crises are pushing millions of vulnerable children and adolescents out of school and disrupting progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG4, which calls for universal, equitable education for all by 2030.

Learn more in the European Commission Press Release.

Video

UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES US$37 MILLION IN NEW, ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT FOR CRISIS-AFFECTED CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Education Cannot Wait is an educational lifeline in dozens of crisis-affected countries globally. We know when access to education is equal, the results are clear: greater economic growth, improved health outcomes, stronger democracies, more peaceful and resilient societies, and healthier and more successful children.’

Spanish

27 September 2021, New York – The Government of the United States announced today US$37 million in new, additional funding for Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

The new funding brings the United States’ total contributions to approximately US$92.3 million. The contribution comes from USAID (US$23 million, including US$5 million earmarked for the crisis in Mali), and the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (US$14 million); the State/PRM funds are earmarked for refugee and displaced children and youth. With these new contributions, the United States becomes the third largest donor to the ECW global trust fund, following the United Kingdom and Germany.

“The United States has proudly supported Education Cannot Wait since its inception in 2016. And we are proud to boost our support today. Education Cannot Wait is an educational lifeline in dozens of crisis-affected countries globally. We look forward to continued cooperation to increase access to education, improved learning outcomes and reach the most marginalized students – especially girls, refugees, internally displaced communities, gender and sexual minorities, and children with disabilities. We know when access to education is equal, the results are clear: greater economic growth, improved health outcomes, stronger democracies, more peaceful and resilient societies, and healthier and more successful children,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

At this year’s UN General Assembly, world leaders have come together to address the interconnected crises of armed conflicts, COVID-19, forced displacement, climate change and other challenges that are disrupting efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG4, which calls for universal and equitable quality education for all by 2030.

“I would like to sincerely thank the people of the United States, USAID and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, for these generous contributions. The United States is an important leader and strategic partner in our efforts to provide children and adolescents impacted by armed conflicts, climate change-related disasters, forced displacement and other protracted crises with the safety, hope and opportunity of a quality education. We prioritize forcibly displaced girls and boys who are often left furthest behind in the middle of nowhere between borders and in refugee and displaced persons settlements. Together, we will now be able to reach more of them, to go deeper and sustain the gains we collectively make, and to empower them to achieve their human rights and rebuild their lives,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schooling is a “generational catastrophe”, according to the United Nations. One year into the COVID-19 crisis, two-thirds of students worldwide are still affected by full or partial school closures. According to the UN, the pandemic has all but wiped-out education gains from the past 20 years, including notable gains in access to education for girls.

Through its innovative multi-year resilience programmes and first emergency responses, Education Cannot Wait has already reached more than 4.6 million crisis-affected children and adolescents. ECW’s COVID-19 education in emergency response has reached an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys.

Learn more in the US State Department Press Release.

Video

DONORS COME TOGETHER WITH US$138.1 MILLION IN NEW FUNDING FOR EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT DURING UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND

With new contributions from Germany, United States of America, European Union/European Commission, The LEGO Foundation, France, Switzerland, and Porticus, ECW and partners are building a movement to reach millions of the world’s crisis-affected children and youth with the safety, hope and opportunity of a quality education. 

Arabic | French | Spanish

27 September 2021, New York – On the sidelines of this year’s United Nations General Assembly, public, private and philanthropic donors announced a total of US$138.1 million in new contributions to Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The new contributions come from: Germany (€50 million; approx. US$58.6 million); United States of America (US$37 million); European Union/European Commission (€25 million; approx. US$29.3 million); The LEGO Foundation (DKK35 million; approx. US$5.6 million); France (€4 million; approx. US$4.7 million); Switzerland (CHF2 million; approx. US$2.2 million); and, Porticus (€500,000, approx. US$588,000).

This new round of funding contributions will accelerate the impact of ECW’s education in emergencies investments, which have already reached more than 4.6 million crisis-affected children and adolescents. ECW’s COVID-19 response has also been delivered in record speed across 32 countries, reaching an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys. Since its inception in 2016, ECW has mobilized US$828.3 million through the ECW Trust Fund, and helped leverage with its partners US$1 billion worth of programmes aligned with ECW’s multi-year resilience programmes in 10 countries.

“We all see the dramatic crises worldwide. Children and young people suffer the most from hunger, violence, and lack of education. Every child has a right to education. Thus, I am proud to announce that Germany will commit €50 million to Education Cannot Wait,” said Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany.

“We need to act now, because we know that in times of crisis, education can offer stability, protection and prospects for the future. For 2022, we will make available a total of €50 million for the ECW multi-year resilience programmes, because education is key for achieving all dimensions of sustainable development,” said Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany.

“The United States has proudly supported Education Cannot Wait since its inception in 2016. And we are proud to boost our support today. Education Cannot Wait is an educational lifeline in dozens of crisis-affected countries globally. We look forward to continued cooperation to increase access to education, improved learning outcomes and reach the most marginalized students – especially girls, refugees, internally displaced communities, gender and sexual minorities, and children with disabilities. We know when access to education is equal, the results are clear: greater economic growth, improved health outcomes, stronger democracies, more peaceful and resilient societies, and healthier and more successful children,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

“We want all children to be born with the same opportunities. All too often, the fate and lives of our children are determined by the lottery of birth. This is why I am pleased to announce that Europe will be donating €25 million to the Education Cannot Wait global fund. An investment in education is an investment in a better world,” said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

“We must unite to put the SDGs back on track. As we continue to witness, we can never take access to education for granted. Team Europe has to date contributed to more than 40% of the funding of Education Cannot Wait, and the new €25 million contribution from the EU will further support it to reach the most vulnerable children and bring them back to education,” said European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urplilainen.

“As world leaders gather for the UN General Assembly and define a path to address the interconnected crises of conflict, COVID-19, climate change and forced displacement, these crucial contributions will ensure the world’s most vulnerable children and adolescents have the chance to go learn, grow and thrive. We call on all governments and private sector partners to follow suit and support the mission of Education Cannot Wait: to leave no child or young person behind in conflicts or as refugees, but to ensure they can exercise their right to a quality education. This is a true investment in peace and prosperity,” said The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of ECW’s High-Level Steering Group.

“This new round of funding is a bold and important step in reaching the world’s most marginalized children and adolescents with the power of inclusive quality education,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “It shows the commitment of our strategic donors to scale up their generous support and we are deeply grateful for the trust placed in the proven ECW model. I thank you for this important funding by all of our partners, who came forward during the UNGA Week, enabling us to deliver more support, faster and more sustainably, for crisis-affected children and youth.”

Falling behind in achieving SDG4

Despite these significant contributions, large gaps for education in emergencies funding persist. ECW analysis of humanitarian appeals indicate that funding requirements for education grew from US$1 billion in 2019 to US$1.4 billion in 2020.

Global leaders are signaling the alarm bells as new reports indicate the world is falling behind in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, (including SDG4 for inclusive equitable quality education), by 2030.

According to the United Nations, COVID-19 has wiped out 20 years of education gains, with an additional 101 million of children in grades 1 through 8 falling behind in minimum reading proficiency levels. Globally only 85% of children completed primary school in 2019, up from 82% in 2010, while only about half of students will graduate from secondary school.

An estimated 1.5 billion students were impacted by COVID-19 school closures, and a recent study by the Malala Foundation estimates that an additional 20 million girls would lose their access to education as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Girls and boys already impacted by conflict, climate change and displacement are being pushed further to the margins. When these girls and boys are pushed out of school, they face increased risks of gender-based violence, forced recruitment, and other grave violations.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT DIRECTOR YASMINE SHERIF JOINS PRINCE HARRY & MEGAN, THE DUKE & DUCHESS OF SUSSEX, ARTISTS, CELEBRITIES AND LEADING ADVOCATES ONSTAGE FOR GLOBAL CITIZEN LIVE ON 25 SEPT!

Tune in live for the September 25 concert to ‘Move the World, One Action at a Time’ with headliners Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo Meek Mill, Shawn Mendes, Cyndi Lauper, Jon Batiste, Lang Lang and more!

23 September 2021, New York – Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif will join artists, celebrities, and leading advocates for positive change onstage for Global Citizen Live, Saturday September 25 on the Great Lawn of New York City’s Central Park.

Tune in live for the concert to “Defend the Planet and Defeat Poverty,” which will be broadcast for 24 hours across six continents. The New York concert begins at 4pm EDT.

Sherif will appear onstage in Central Park to thank donors and to call for expanded funding for ECW to support the millions of crisis-affected children and adolescents worldwide who are being denied their human right to an education.

“To date, ECW – the UN global fund for education in emergencies – has helped over 4.6 million vulnerable girls and boys to access inclusive, quality education in 38 of the world’s toughest humanitarian contexts. ECW’s COVID-19 education in emergency response also helped an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys and 310,000 teachers caught in emergency settings. Yet there is so much more to be done, and we call on public and private donors to urgently provide funding for Education Cannot Wait so we can ensure that no child is left behind,” said Sherif.

Prince Harry and Meghan will join the 24-hour global broadcast event live from the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park, to continue their urgent work with world leaders in the pursuit of global vaccine equity to end the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone, everywhere.

Headliners at Global Citizen Live include Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo Meek Mill and Shawn Mendes, with special guests Alessia Cara, Burna Boy, Cyndi Lauper, Jon Batiste and Lang Lang.

Also appearing as part of the global broadcast event are United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley, Vivek Maru CEO of Namati, Rotary President-elect Jennifer Jones, SDG Champion and Advocate Eddie Ndopu, President of the Ford Foundation Darren Walker, President of the Paris Peace Forum Steering Committee Trisha Shetty, Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., U.N. Next Generation fellow Valeria Colunga, advocate Eunice Akoth and more.

Global Citizens are encouraged to make individual donations to ECW, and call on leaders for expanded support for the Fund.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT APPROVES US$1.5 MILLION FIRST EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN HAITI

Les Cayes, Haiti. Children benefit from psychosocial and educational activities at a center supported by UNICEF and IDEJEN in the aftermath of 14 August Earthquake. Photo © UNICEF/UN0519236/Ergen

Responding to the devastating consequences of the earthquake, ECW investment will be deployed by UNICEF and World Food Programme to reach 18,000 children

French

17 September 2021, New York – Education Cannot Wait announced today a new US$1.5 million first emergency response grant in Haiti.

The grant will be deployed in coordination with the Government of Haiti, by UNICEF,  the World Food Programme and both international and local civil society, reaching 18,000 children impacted by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which caused massive destruction and exacerbated pressing needs for children and youth already impacted by COVID-19, civil unrest and other crises.

The death toll from the 14 August quake has surpassed 2,200, affecting at least a quarter of a million children that are now in need of emergency humanitarian assistance after losing homes, schools and other basic services. Prior to the quake, 2.2 million Haitian children were already in need of humanitarian assistance.

Preliminary assessments indicate extensive damage and destruction across schools, just weeks before they are due to re-open for the start of the school year. Reports from the three most-affected departments cite the total destruction or severe damage to over 300 school buildings, affecting an estimated 100,000 children and teachers.

To support the people of Haiti in building back better, ECW and partners are currently formulating a multi-year resilience programme in Haiti that will bridge the humanitarian-development nexus and build on the impact of this First Emergency Response. The LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI, the owners of the LEGO Group, announced US$5 million in new funding to support ECW’s First Emergency Response in Afghanistan and Haiti in late August.

“Governments and private sector need to step up to fully fund the education in emergency response in Haiti. Children and adolescents have lost loved ones, they have lost their homes, and they have had their education suddenly disrupted. Their safety and hope for the future are now lost, as these girls and boys face hunger, violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, child trafficking and early pregnancy. Together with our partners, we are responding with speed to ensure no child is left behind, but we urgently need more resources,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies.

“Children bear the brunt of natural disasters worldwide. Haitian children have given much more. They have been turned away for so long from classrooms by social unrest, COVID-19 secondary effects and gang-related violence at a time. Now children in southwestern Haiti have survived a devastating earthquake that cost them parents, siblings, health centers and schools. Along with their teachers who are not better-off, they need didactic, learning and psychosocial support. This support from ECW has come at the right time and will allow us to help stabilize Haitian children’s lives for a new beginning,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Haiti Representative.

“I’d like to thank ECW for this critical funding working with our partner UNICEF to offer a complementary package of activities in the areas most hard-hit by the earthquake. In support of reconstruction and recovery efforts led by the Haitian authorities, WFP will provide thousands of children with much needed food assistance to help accelerate the reopening of schools,” said Pierre Honnorat, WFP Country Director in Haiti.

The ECW-supported 12-month First Emergency Response will contribute to provide safe and inclusive temporary learning spaces with basic learning materials to 1,400 girls, boys and adolescents in an inclusive and gender-responsive manner.

It will also include the provision of basic water, sanitation and hygiene services as well as school feeding for 13,000 children.

Cash transfers will be provided for the most marginalized children and their families, as well as mental health and psychosocial support. Marginalized out-of-school adolescents will be provided with non-formal education.

Trainings in psychosocial support and psychological first aid, as well as protection issues, including gender-based-violence risk mitigation and safe referrals will also be provided to 100 teachers, and 5,000 children and adolescents will be sensitized on protection issues and referral to available services.

The grantees and implementing partners will coordinate with provincial authorities to ensure child safeguarding standards as well as provide awareness raising on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, violence against children and gender-based violence.

AFGHANISTAN’S GIRLS NEED OUR UNWAVERING SUPPORT IN EDUCATION

To support the children of Afghanistan and especially the girls – and all vulnerable girls and boys caught in every crisis zone around the world – ECW urgently calls for more public and private sector donor funding support now.

By Yasmine Sherif, ECW Director

View Original on InterPress Service

The Taliban takeover of government in Kabul is just days old, and the eyes of Afghans and the world are cautiously watching and hopeful to see them stand by their word and ensure that girls’ education be promoted and protected.

Twenty years ago, under the Taliban regime which prevailed from 1996 to 2001, schooling for girls was banned, although private home-based classes for girls were allowed in some parts of the country. From 2001 onwards the enrolment of girls and boys in schools saw steady gains in Afghanistan, accompanied by a large intake of female teachers.  Yet, despite improvements over the years, a staggering 3.4 million Afghan children, especially from rural areas, remain out of school, and 60 percent of them are girls.

Many educated and working Afghan women, fearful of the future, have understandably taken what chances they had in trying to leave the country during August. In one case an entire boarding school for girls was evacuated. This must not become the norm. Every Afghan knows that girls’ education – females representing half the population – is essential for Afghanistan to recover from over 40 years of conflict and reunite. Every believing Afghan knows the first sura of the Quran, which says “Read” – and that this applies to both girls and boys – and also knows that knowledge is at the heart of Islam.

There are some grounds to hope that we can preserve progress made in recent years, through a combination of international diplomacy and support, and the apparent understanding of this new Taliban administration, and its possible political maturity, that it needs both legitimacy and goodwill to govern a drought-stricken country heavily dependent on foreign aid with 14 million people short of food. UN officials speak of cautious optimism. An encouraging early sign is resumption of UN humanitarian flights.

For more than a year, education in Afghanistan and elsewhere has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic so it may take time for clarity to emerge over the Taliban’s declarations that education for girls will continue. Of what kind and up to what age are important markers. On 23 August, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen tweeted a video showing girls going to a village school.  The world hopes that this is a signal that the new regime is willing to follow an agreement reached with UNICEF last December.

Under the ‘Helmand Sangin Workplan’, UNICEF secured the agreement of the Taliban to expand community-based education (CBE) classes to “hard-to-reach and conflict zones” in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Faryab. The CBE model, using community buildings – sometimes mosques – would allow around 4,000 classes that would cater for between 100,000 to 140,000 children.

Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises, has worked since 2016 to support communities worldwide – including in Afghanistan – in overcoming obstacles to education for all, especially for girls who are often the first victims of a lack of learning options.

The lack of female teachers in Afghanistan was often cited as a barrier to education for girls, and a focus of ECW’s funding work there, together with UNICEF, Save the Children and local partners, has been to ensure that female teachers make up 60 percent of our programs.

Education is not only a basic human right – it also saves lives, communities, societies and a country. Education plays the crucial role of providing communities with safe places for their children to learn, offering the framework to build sound institutions, stronger economies and more peaceful societies. More educated young people earn better livelihoods and are better able to contribute positively to society.

In marking the UN’s ‘International Day to Protect Education from Attack’ on September 9, ECW is aware that there’s no shortage of examples of the challenges ahead. There is a chronic lack of funding for what should be treated as important leverage to dramatically improve people’s lives in war-torn areas. In less than five years ECW and its partners have reached nearly 5 million children and youth in some of the most challenging crisis settings in over 30 countries; and, over 29 million children through its COVID-19 emergency education response. Yet, millions of other girls and boys are still left behind and need urgent support.

The 2020 UN resolution defending education from attack was presented by Qatar and supported by 62 countries to draw attention to the 75 million school-age minors who don’t have access to education and suffer the effects of prolonged violence. In the UN’s General Assembly words: “Governments have the primary responsibility to provide protection and ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels to all learners, especially those in vulnerable situations.

This past year has provided tragic examples of the impacts of new and old conflicts on education around the world, often further intensified by the global climate crisis and the pandemic.

Already fragile communities in countries such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso and Myanmar have seen their dreams of an education for their children threatened or shattered under the pressure of too many simultaneous threats.

The military coup in Myanmar seven months ago suddenly tore apart plans for much-needed education reforms, while the pandemic had already left students unable to attend classes. The situation is acute in poorer rural areas. Border regions have seen old conflicts flare anew. Schools have been bombed and children are taking classes in the jungle.

Burkina Faso and the whole Central Sahel region are experiencing fast deteriorating crises on multiple fronts. Currently more than 2.6 million children are out of school and in the six most severely affected regions of Burkina Faso, the primary school completion rate is only 29%. Schools lack infrastructure for students displaced by conflict, teaching materials are missing, and water and sanitation are in a critical state. Some classrooms have tripled in size, now holding over a hundred pupils each.

Education is the key to break the vicious cycle of war and division in a country, and to provide the means to confront these challenges in local and global contexts. And it is important to remember that not all such crises make media headlines, or when they do they quickly fade away to make space for the next. One of the latest ECW interventions is funding for 200,000 children in Iraq and neighboring countries.

Education appeals receive less than 2 to 4 percent of humanitarian funding, but it is the resilience in crisis-affected children and their unbending hope to access a quality education that keeps us going and inspires us to take action.

To support the children of Afghanistan and especially the girls – and all vulnerable girls and boys caught in every crisis zone around the world – ECW urgently calls for more public and private sector donor funding support now. Their education cannot wait. Afghanistan cannot wait, nor can any other country torn apart by conflict and disasters. Time has come for the full respect of every human being. Not the least the girls and adolescent girls. Time has come for unity, peace, stability and humanity.