In 2021, major crises escalated - such as in Afghanistan and Ethiopia - while the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to be felt across education systems and national budgets throughout the world. The year was yet another exceptionally challenging one for children and adolescents already left furthest behind in emergencies and protracted crises.

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Together with our strategic partners, Education Cannot Wait enhanced its support of quality education outcomes for girls and boys caught in armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate change-induced disasters and protracted crises, with a strong focus on the most marginalized.

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© Save the Children/Dereje


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Total Children and Adolescents Reached With ECW Support

  • 2017


  • 2018


  • 2019


  • 2020


  • 2021


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Total Resources Mobilized Through Trust Fund (in $US)

*Across 19 countries supported through MYRPs, donors and partners mobilized an additional cumulative amount of more than US$1 billion in new funding for EiEPC programmes supporting the same type of beneficiaries as the MYRPs, including $685 million strongly aligned and coordinated with the MYRPs.

  • 2017


  • 2018


  • 2019


  • 2020


  • 2021


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Total Number of Grants

*2021: 310 including COVID-19 interventions

2020: 256 including COVID-19 interventions

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  • 2018


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  • 2020


  • 2021


Investments in education for children and adolescents1 affected by emergencies and protracted crisis are the core of our collective quest to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 – the global education goal. Without the foundational goal of SDG 4, all other SDGs will fall behind unfulfilled. This Annual Results Report 2021 describes the achievements made and lessons learned by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and its partners during 2021 as we jointly support all crisis-affected children and adolescents in accessing quality education and achieving better learning outcomes.

2021 was a pivotal year for ECW. The fund marked its fifth anniversary as the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. ECW enters its financial replenishment in 2023 and is preparing to embark on a new strategic plan period for 2023–2026.

2021 was ECW's most successful resource mobilization year since its inception. It raised US$388.6 million in 2021, despite a challenging funding context, on behalf of children and adolescents whose education has been disrupted. To date, the fund has mobilized US$1.07 billion for its Trust Fund between 2016 and 2021 and thereby exceeded the target set under its current strategic plan (2018–2022).

Since 2016, ECW has reached 6.9 million children and adolescents (48.4 per cent girls) with programmes and interventions in some of the world's most challenging humanitarian contexts, including 3.7 million children and adolescents (48.9 per cent girls) with grants active in 2021 alone. ECW reached 11.8 million with COVID-19 interventions that same year, bringing the total number of children and adolescents supported by COVID-19 interventions to 31.2 million. Girls reached with CVD since inception is 51.85%.

© UNICEF/Carrera

ECW invests in countries affected by conflicts, protracted crises and climate-related disasters. ECW assisted 32 countries in 2021, through 174 grants (including 50 COVID-19 related grants) that were implemented by 37 grantee organizations and their implementing partners. ECW and partners implement programmes in all of the countries with the highest number of forcibly displaced populations (internally displaced persons [IDPs], refugees and returnees) worldwide: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gaza and the West Bank, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, the Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Uganda and Yemen.

In 2021, ECW made new allocations of US$143 million to grantees via its three investment modalities: the Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP), the First Emergency Response (FER) and the Accelerated Facility. ECW approved six new MYRPs (Burundi, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan and the Sudan) and one renewed MYRP (Bangladesh) in the total amount of US$121.2 million; 12 FERs (US$19 million); and 13 new Accelerated Facility grants (US$2.6 million). With these new allocations in 2021, ECW has expanded its portfolio of active grants to a total amount of US$495.8 million.

In June 2022, ECW released new estimates that globally, approximately 222 million school-aged children are affected by crises, of which 78.2 million are out of school and 119.6 million are not achieving minimum competencies in mathematics and reading despite attending school.2 Another 24.2 million in pre-primary school, primary or secondary school are achieving minimum proficiency in mathematics or reading but are still affected by crises and are in need of support. These 222 million crisis-affected children and adolescents are missing a quality education that would shape and determine their futures. They need urgent educational support.

These new global figures should be a wake-up call for all of us. To get on track to achieving SDG4, it will be necessary to re-double investments and efforts in support of all children and adolescents affected by crises on their learning journey. These investments will not only benefit these children and their families but will also help build a stronger, more cohesive, resilient global community.

[1] ECW defines 'children and adolescents' to mean crisis-affected girls and boys between the ages of 3 and 18 in all their diversity. ECW is committed to supporting those most in need, paying particular attention to intersecting vulnerabilities related to gender, disability, refugee status, displacement status, and age and stage (including supporting the early years, and secondary school).

[2] ECW developed the estimates using a new methodology and data from a variety of sources, with technical inputs from the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) reference group on Education in Emergencies data. See: Education Cannot Wait, Global Estimates: Number of crisis-affected children and adolescents in need of education support, ECW, 2022. < /resource-library/global-estimates-number-crisis-affected-children-and-adolescents-in-need-education>, accessed July 2022.

ECW's mission is underpinned by five strategic objectives:

At a beneficiary level, the work done by ECW and its many partners is grouped around five beneficiary outcome areas: