ECW Press Release: LEGO Foundation announces $15M contribution to ECW during Global Citizen Special


ECW’s largest private sector donor scales up education in emergency support for children and youth caught in emergencies and crises with a powerful message during One World: Together at Home

18 April 2020, New YorkThe LEGO Foundation today announced US$15 million in funding for Education Cannot Wait’s education in emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The LEGO Foundation is the largest private sector donor to Education Cannot Wait (ECW), with a total of US$27.5 million in contributions to date. The announcement was made during ‘One World: Together At Home’, an historic, cross-platform global special organized by Global Citizen in partnership with the World Health Organization to honor frontline responders and garner support for the global fight against the pandemic.

LEGO Foundation CEO, John Goodwin, announced the contribution via a video message aired during the broadcast special. The LEGO Foundation joined a host of other private sector organizations making historic commitments to COVID-19 relief efforts during the special, alongside performances by the world’s top artists and comedians curated by Lady Gaga which includes: The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Elton John, Shawn Mendes, Usher, Taylor Swift, Andrea Bocelli, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Annie Lennox, The Killers, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and more.

“Research shows that while learning through play is vital for children’s psychological, emotional and cognitive health and development, it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures, which is needed now more than ever given the crisis we’re currently up against,” said John Goodwin, CEO, The LEGO Foundation. “We must support all children, including the most vulnerable children in refugee settings, to ensure they continue to have access to education and develop skills critical for them to thrive in a constantly changing world. We are honoured to collaborate and support Education Cannot Wait and our other partners who are working extremely hard in unforgiving circumstances to bring education, hope and a future to children everywhere.”

This contribution builds on recent emergency funding announced for ECW, the global fund for education in emergencies,  earlier this week by the United Kingdom. In just six days, thanks to these two contributions, ECW mobilized over US$21 million toward its US$50 million appeal to replenish its emergency funds reserve to deploy life-saving and life-sustaining  education services for crisis-affected girls and boys impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement and natural disasters – who now also face COVID-19.

“I am deeply grateful to the LEGO Foundation for its growing and steadfast support to Education Cannot Wait, and our shared mission for children and youth in crises. ECW appreciates this generous contribution to help children and youth left furthest behind in armed conflicts, forced displacement and natural disasters, who are now doubly affected by COVID-19. There is no end in sight to how much these young souls have to suffer and they must be our absolute priority,” said Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait Director.

“The LEGO Foundation is the first private sector partner contributing to Education Cannot Wait’s emergency response to COVID-19, bringing hope to the world’s most vulnerable children through creative solutions to learning and play in the midst of the pandemic. LEGO is a shining example for all to follow and we encourage more private sector and government donor partners to come forward,” continued Sherif. “I also want to express my gratitude to our partners at Global Citizen and their supporters for providing this impactful platform ‘One World: Together at Home’ to share the critical work we are doing and encourage donors to support relief efforts.”

This funding is part of the LEGO Foundation’s US$50 million grant to support vulnerable children and youth impacted by COVID-19. It builds on ECW’s COVID-19 response by supporting play-based approaches, pre-primary education and synergies with existing ECW investments spanning some 30 crisis-affected countries to support refugee, displaced and host communities and other crisis-affected children and youth, including girls and children with disabilities who are often among the most marginalized.

ECW’s education in emergencies response to the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly being deployed across 26 crisis-affected countries and contexts, through 55 grantees from UN agencies and NGOs.  These activities will run from 6 to 12 months, and include emergency education interventions ensuring continuous learning opportunities and supporting the health and wellbeing of children, messaging on protective measures and support around risks, and increasing access to water and sanitation facilities for children and their communities.

With support from an exceptional group of artists, the One World: Together at Home global broadcast & digital special is supporting frontline healthcare workers and the World Health Organization (WHO). The United Nations and the WHO asked Global Citizen to support their COVID-19 response by bringing the world together through music and inspiring everyone to take action.

Additional Resources



Notes to Editors:

Information on the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund and its investment modalities are available at:

About the LEGO Foundation

 The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play. Learn more on

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.

Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait  @LEGOfoundation @YasmineSherif1    @KentPage
Additional information available at:

For press inquiries:
Anouk Desgroseilliers,, +1-917-640-6820
Kent Page,, +1-917-302-1735

For other inquiries:

Education Cannot Wait Interview with Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown

Interview with Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the Education Cannot Wait High-Level Steering Group

As the world marks the second International Day of Education on 24 January 2020, Education Cannot Wait’s Director, Yasmine Sherif, interviewed one of today’s most prominent and passionate advocates for the global movement to ensure education for all. In his role as UN Special Envoy for Global Education and as Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group, Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown has successfully galvanized financial and political support globally with the hope and opportunity of quality education for every child in this world.

1. You are the leading global advocate for education worldwide. What inspired you to take on the cause of education out of so many issues facing our world?  

I’m just one of many who realized that – as the Education Commission concluded – education unlocks not only individual opportunities, but also unlocks gender equality, better health, better qualities of life and a better environment. The Education Commission’s report illustrates how education is the very foundation for unlocking all other Sustainable Development Goals. For example, I am struck by the fact that infant and maternal mortality can be as much as twice as high among uneducated women compared to those who are educated, and I continue to be shocked by several brutal facts:

  • 260 million school-age children are not in school
  • 400 million children are completely out of education for good at age 11 or 12
  • 800 million children are leaving the education system without any qualifications worth their name 

In fact, it’s even worse than that: In 2030, we could be as far away from meeting SDG4 as we currently are, unless we act decisively together, now. One reason why the situation is so grave is that today there are 75 million children and youth in need of urgent education support in crisis-affected countries, of whom 20 million are internally displaced children and 12 million are child refugees. Indeed, only a fraction – 1 to 3 per cent – of refugees go on to higher education, whereas, for example, in pre-conflict Syria it used to be 20%. That is why Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is so crucial to meeting SDG4. We need action now. It simply cannot wait if we are to meet the target by 2030.
2. As the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, what is your vision for some of the key multilateral actions, such the UN, EU and the World Bank to achieve SDG4 by 2030?

We need a renewed focus on education and we need resources, response and reform. We set up the Global Education Forum, working with UNESCO, to ensure that we have maximum coordination of our efforts between the UN, EU and the World Bank and we will soon outline plans for raising the profile of global education in countries across the world. 
As humanitarian crises and refugee flows are multiplying at an unprecedented speed, it is critically important to fund ECW’s investments delivering quality education to children and youth impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement and natural disasters. Furthermore, and in partnership with these actors, we have set up the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd). Through IFFEd, we are aiming for $10 billion in extra funds for educational investment. Currently, we are now around $2-2.5 billion. To achieve our goal, we have to secure the support of more countries.   

3. What do you see as the biggest challenges in ensuring that every child and young person has continued access to a quality education and what are the priorities to meet those challenges?
Quality education is crucial. As I said, we need resources, speed in the response during crisis and long-term reform to succeed.
Children and youth affected by emergencies and crisis cannot be out of school or wait for a decent education for years simply because a crisis has erupted in their country. As a matter of fact, education is their only hope and opportunity to be able to sustain conflicts and disasters. By the same token, every crisis-affected country needs human capital to rebuild and recover.
We need to train and properly remunerate teachers. Teachers are so important – no one ever forgets their teachers and teachers are the key to improved school standards. We also need the best school leaders serving as head teachers. We need a more relevant curriculum.  We need to use technology more effectively, especially in outlying areas – to ensure children are not denied the input and the resources they need for a good education. We need to use technology effectively not just for school education, but for higher educational opportunities that could be both on-line and tutor-led.  

4. You are also the Chair of the High-Level Steering Group of the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund, which was created during the World Humanitarian Summit largely thanks to your leadership. Education Cannot Wait is a rather unique name. How did you come up with such name and why did you think this fund was necessary?
I saw the urgency and the need for speed in situations of crisis and forced displacement. Education in countries affected by conflicts and disasters was falling between two stools – humanitarian aid, which prioritized health, food and shelter, with hardly any resources allocated for education – AND development aid, which is more long-term and often is slow to react to a crisis. Millions of children and young people were left behind with no education, no hope and no means of bouncing back and plan for their future.
Education Cannot Wait was established at the World Humanitarian Summit to inspire political support and mobilize the resources that we lacked. It was also established to bring together both humanitarian and development actors to jointly provide the crucial flow of educational support for children and youth impacted by crises. And so far it has worked! It is a fast moving fund that is focused to bringing education to the most difficult humanitarian contexts. We now have investments in over 30 countries.
One example is the comprehensive Uganda Education Response Plan for Refugees to give support to South Sudanese and other refugees – where all organizations have come together and where we are providing support to the government in mainstreaming refugee education. This is important because the common impression people have of refugees is that they are only out of their country for a short time. But in fact, the average humanitarian crisis now lasts more than nine years, and families caught up in conflicts spend an average of 17 years as refugees. For far too many children, this mean being a refugee throughout their entire school age years. So, they need help with education now. It cannot wait until a conflict or crisis has ended and they can return home.

5. How do you see the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund progressing in advancing UN reform, the New Way of Working and making a real difference for children and youth in conflicts, disasters and forced displacement?
I think we are learning all the time. We now see that education in emergencies and protracted crises requires joint programming where governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and private sector organizations work cooperatively together to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development systems. Education Cannot Wait brings all these actors together through one joint programme whereby humanitarian and development activities are coordinated and complementary towards collective outcomes. This in turn accelerates delivery and strengthens the collective capacity to produce real learning outcomes.
Since Education Cannot Wait is situated in the UN, it is well placed to translate the New Way of Working, the Grand Bargain and Humanitarian-Development coherence into very tangible action in-country. It is encouraging to see how education in emergencies and protracted crises is now playing such an instrumental role in setting an example. In Uganda, for instance, the Education Response Plan for Refugees is now modeling response plans and joint programming in other sectors, such as health. Education Cannot Wait has developed a crisis-sensitive formula that is not only aligned with, but also has the potential of supporting the New Way of Working across the SDG Agenda.
6. What are the three most important value-adds of the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund?

Education Cannot Wait was born in an era when we couldn’t provide for Syrian refugees an education without new ideas and coordination. One of them was double-shift schools. With refugees dispersed across Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, the idea was conceived to share existing schools, so that in Lebanon 300,000 or so Syrian refugee children are educated in their native Arabic in the afternoons in the same classrooms that Lebanese children are taught French and English in the mornings. We were creating the wheel in developing plans like the RACE plan in Lebanon with all of the donors and partners, and were determined to create a system that could provide rapid education delivery and medium term planning and financing in emergencies.
Education Cannot Wait works with governments, while supporting vulnerable populations, such as refugees, internally displaced, war-affected, marginalized groups, girls and children with disabilities. As a global fund, ECW was designed to reduce bureaucracy and strengthen accountability towards these children and youth. Hosted by UNICEF, the fund is able to operate with speed and quickly access those left furthest behind in crisis areas thanks to a business model and support mechanisms designed for crisis-contexts. A major added value is the way in which ECW serves as a catalyst for humanitarian-development coherence in the education sector.  This is quite unique.

7. You also conceived of the International Financing Facility for Education (IFFEd). How did it come about and how can it become a game-changer? What makes it different and how can it be optimized in cooperation with partners?

There are 200 million children in low income countries and what the World Bank has done by enhancing IDA is make more resources available from the international community. In theory, IDA could raise educational aid from $1.6 billion to $3.5 billion over the next few years and we’ve advocated that education in low incomes countries should be 15 per cent of all IDA spent.
But there’s a gap that hurts the 700 million children in lower middle-income countries where we have the most out-of-school children and the largest number of refugees. Here, the World Bank provides not 10 or 15 per cent of its resources for education but around 4 per cent, and sadly, the recapitalization of the World Bank – while successful – has also created a ceiling limiting the future availability of new resources.
Therefore, with World Bank support, we are creating a new fund for education that will focus resources and financing help for the 700 million children in lower middle-income countries, on similar terms that the World Bank offers, but with far more resources. 
We aim to raise $10 billion, which would require $2 billion in guarantees and perhaps $2 billion in grants to create four to five times as many resources for investment in education. This will be of special help to countries where there are large numbers of forcibly displaced persons, including refugees. 
8. How do you see the complementarity between the International Financing Facility for Education, the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund and the Global Partnership for Education?

Each of us have complementary jobs to do in a synchronized way. The chair of  GPE, Julia Gillard, was a member of our Education Commission, which recommended the new facility. GPE does important work – thankfully with increased resources after their recent replenishment – and this work, mainly in low-income countries, is complemented by what is offered through IFFEd.
Education Cannot Wait provides a different business model. It is grounded in the UN system’s ability to move with speed in crises, while also applying a crisis-sensitive development response, which is so important to reach SDG4 for those left furthest behind. It is no longer a start-up fund, but is growing rapidly in outreach and influence. So funding needs to continue to increase to complement other funds, such as GPE and IffEd. 

9. In your view, where will we be in 2030? Will we still be in a global education crisis or will we have resolved it?

One of the tragedies is that while the numbers of qualified young people have risen, still less than 25 per cent will have any recognizable qualifications by 2030. More than 27 per cent will have left school by the age of 11 or 12 years, or have ever been at school. This educational divide between the ‘education-poor’ and the ‘education-rich’ will only grow and what worries me most in this regard is Africa. I’ve  already shared earlier on in this interview the shocking figures for 2030, but worse still, Africa will see a rise in ‘out-of-school’ and in ‘unqualified school-leavers’, unless we act now. To inspire such action, we must share the data, show how challenging the situation is and propose the solutions that are so desperately need now and which all funds can help provide. 
10. Any final thoughts as we enter the Decade for Action? How do we best translate the vision of SDG4 into action in the coming 10 years?

We must become the first generation in history where every child goes to school. 
Instead of just developing some of the talents of some of the young people in some of the countries, we must develop all the talents of all young people in all countries. I am very conscious that universal education cannot be achieved unless we include the 75 million crises-affected children and youth whose education cannot wait. Their needs must be met if we are to meet SDG4 and achieve the noble objective that no one is left behind. 
I am a great believer in the power of young people. We have seen this in the global march against child labor, by girls getting together to prevent child marriages, and through the work of global youth ambassadors in UNICEF, UNHCR and Their World who are an effective pressure group for change.
We must enlist students and parents and we must put pressure on both national governments and international institutions to achieve change. Politicians say that adjudicating is their top priority, but the current state of financing for education does not yet recognize this; some countries spend only 2 per cent of their national income on education.
We must have a coalition of education advocates that ensures that governments and international institutions take action when they say education is a priority. This must start by acknowledging how far behind we have been in securing education for crisis-affected children, including refugee and displaced children. Their needs and aspirations must be at the forefront of our thoughts.
We know that hope dies when a food convoy does not get through to refugees or a boat carrying them is lost at sea – but hope also dies when education is denied to children who desperately want and need it, and who cannot prepare for, nor plan for, their future. We must restore that sense of hope in the future for every child and young person living in abject poverty, on the margins of their societies or in countries of war, as refugees or affected by sudden disasters. We cannot leave any child or young person behind.  


About Education Cannot Wait

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the first global, multi-lateral 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.

Follow us on Twitter: @EduCannotWait
Additional information is available at 
For press inquiries:
Kent Page,, +1-917-302-1735
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@un-ecw-org, +1-917-640-6820

For any other inquiries:  


Seed funding grants from Education Cannot Wait will meet pressing educational needs of girls and boys caught up in the four protracted crises and help catalyze resources to fill the education funding gap

11 December 2019, New York – Education Cannot Wait (ECW) has allocated US$64 million in seed funding grants to support four new multi-year resilience programmes in Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria. This is the largest new investment announced by the Global Fund for Education in Emergencies to date.

The seed funding will roll out interventions that are part of wider multi-year programmes facilitated by Education Cannot Wait to support quality inclusive education for marginalized and vulnerable girls and boys affected by the protracted crises in the four countries.

Taken together, the multi-year programmes aim to mobilize over US$1 billion across the four countries over the next three years to provide about 5 million children and youth with improved access to inclusive, equitable, safe and protective learning environments.

“Across the world, the number of children and youth suffering the brunt of wars, disasters and forced displacement is on the rise, as humanitarian crises are lasting longer than ever before. Girls and boys living in the most challenging conditions in Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria have been waiting for too long for the hope and protection that only education can offer,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Today, together with our partners, we are taking action to end this interminable wait. We are investing in the opportunity of a brighter future for these children and youth, their communities and their countries.” 

The multi-year resilience programmes are designed to bridge the gap between emergency response and long-term development. In ensuring no one is left behind, the programmes all have specific focuses on reaching the most marginalized and vulnerable children and youth, such as girls and children with disabilities.

The programmes were developed on the ground in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders – national   governments, UN organizations, donors, private sector and civil society. Interventions are designed to provide whole-of-child solutions in protracted crises situations where armed conflict, forced displacement, climate change, poverty, hunger, gender-based violence and discrimination are jeopardizing children’s future and derailing efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Programme interventions include everything from building protective learning spaces, training teachers and expanding school feeding programmes. Specific retention initiatives for girls and boys whose education has been interrupted due to harmful practices such as early marriage and forced recruitment are also included, as well as targeted psychosocial and mental health support to help children and youth cope with the stress and adversity that stems from living through conflict and displacement.


Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Chad  [Read the full announcement here: En, Fr]

  • US$16 million in seed funding grant allocated by ECW to UNICEF to support the first two years of the programme and help catalyse additional funding
  • Total cost of the multi-year programme: US$51 million over three years

The programme includes comprehensive interventions to reintegrate out-of-school girls and boys into learning and training programmes, improve learning environments and train teachers, support early childhood education, increase enrolment and retention and strengthen the education system in emergency situations. Psychosocial and school feeding services are also included. Out-of-school adolescent girls and boys will also benefit from non-formal education and skills development to gain basic literacy and improve their employability.


H.E. Aboubakar Assidick Tchoroma, Minister of National Education and Civic Promotion of Chad, said: “With generous funding from Education Cannot Wait, this new programme will reach girls and boy that have been left behind as the result of ongoing crises and emergency in the region. It’s an investment in our children and in a more prosperous future for the country.”


Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Ethiopia  [Read the full announcement here

  • US$17.9 million in seed funding grants allocated by ECW to UNICEF and Save the Children to support the first two years of the programme and help catalyse additional funding
  • Total cost of the multi-year programme: US$161 million over three years

The programme supports the delivery of learning through equitable access to relevant (crisis-sensitive) and quality education. Interventions target displaced children and youth, host communities as well as refugee and national teachers. The programme will bridge short-term humanitarian education responses; medium to longer-term capacity development and resilience building efforts of key education systems, institutions, and constituencies.


H.E. Dr. Tilaye Gete, Minister of Education of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, said: “This multi-year investment from Education Cannot Wait will help address one of the most important yet often overlooked needs for vulnerable children and youth in times of crisis. By building a programmatic response that brings together multiple stakeholders including the local community, this is a sustainable investment in the future of our children and in the prosperity of our country.”


Multi-Year Resilience Programme in South Sudan [Read the full announcement here]

  • US$20 million in seed funding grant allocated by ECW to Save the Children to support the first two years of the programme and help catalyse additional funding.
  • Total cost of the multi-year programme: US$189 million over three years

The programme is grounded in the reality of South Sudan, where systemic change in the education sector is needed to drive results for all children, with a focus on girls and children with disabilities, while also supporting recovery and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and the transition from emergency to development. Given the impact of displacement, conflicts and crises, and extreme levels of poverty, the programme ensures a holistic support to learners and teachers to achieve quality education outcomes.


Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Syria

  • US$10 million in seed funding grant allocated by ECW to UNICEF to support the first year of the programme and help catalyse additional funding
  • Total cost of the multi-year programme: US$783 million over three years

As the war in Syria enters its ninth year, the three-year “Reaching Syria’s Underserved Children” programme is designed to get children and youth back in safe, protective and equitable learning environments, prevent future drop-outs, and scale up the results of the Education Cannot Wait-financed two-year Initial Investment in the country.  


To download the press release as PDF, please click here.


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. 

To date, ECW investments span more than 30 countries affected by armed conflict, disaster and forced displacement.

Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait  @YasmineSherif1   @KentPage  

Additional information available at: and

For press inquiries, please contact:
Kent Page,, +1-917-302-1735

Anouk Desgroseilliers,, +1-917-640-6820

 For any other inquiries, please contact:

Forced to Flee. Displaced with a Dream. Time for Action.

This blog was originally published in our newsletter and on IPSNews

Maicao, Colombia: 12-year-old Genesis had to flee Venezuela. She now attends an ECW-funded school in Colombia and dreams of becoming a lawyer to ‘resolve problems’

Genesis smiles and holds her hand up proudly to answer questions in class. She claps her hands in support of her classmates when they answer the teachers’ questions correctly. “I miss my cousins and aunts in Venezuela, she says.” Her smile fades and her lips tighten. She struggles to hold back her tears. “I can’t return. I want to stay here in my school, with my new friends.” Her smile returns, as she resolutely states: “I want to become a lawyer, so I can help solve problems.” 
Genesis is too serious for her 12 years of age. Like millions of displaced children, she suffers from being uprooted and she dreams of solving problems that no one that young should ever experience. Genesis is at a crossroads. We can ensure she takes the road of a continued quality education that offers her a pathway towards achieving her dream. Without our support, she will be forced the other way, risking to succumb to the very problems she wants to resolve: conflict, violence and abject poverty.
Genesis is one of the millions of forcibly displaced children around the globe. She attends class at the ‘Centro Etnoeducativa Indigena’ school in Maicao, in northern Colombia. The school is supported by World Vision through Education Cannot Wait’s First Emergency Response investment implemented by Save the Children, PLAN, IRC and World Vision. As we leave Genesis, we are acutely aware of the urgent need for funding to allow her to continue her education. Education Cannot Wait’s US$7 million emergency support to the region – without which Genesis would not have gone to school – will come to an end in June 2020.
The urgency for continued funding prompted ECW, UNICEF, Save the Children and INEE to conduct a joint mission to Colombia and Ecuador. These are two of the countries at the heart of the Venezuelan regional crisis, which is projected to be the world’s largest forced displacement crisis in 2020 – exceeding the Syrian crisis. The mission concluded that Education Cannot Wait must seek to extend its support through a multi-year investment for quality education. Today, the ECW Executive Committee approved this recommendation. Now, ECW and partners have to mobilize the resources. 

The Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for 2020 calls for US$1.35 billion, of which US$57.1 million (4 per cent of the total appeal) is required to deliver quality education to 244,000 children, only 17 per cent of the actual number of children in need. Yet, how do we mobilize this amount for one crisis for one year, alone? And how do we explain a failure to respond to those minimum requirements to Genesis?
Globally, a total of 68.5 million people are forcibly displaced, of whom over half are children in need of an adequate education. Of this number, 25.9 million are refugees, including some 13 million children. The majority of refugee children struggle with disrupted or poor education, 75 per cent of adolescents do not attend secondary school and 3.7 million refugee children are completely out-of-school.
Beyond the Venezuelan regional crisis, forcible displacement continues to grow in the Sahel region of Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Ethiopia, just to mention a few. In the Arab region, despite representing just 5 per cent of the global population, the Arab states account for 32 per cent of the global refugee population and 38 per cent of the internally displaced global population.
In the same vein, the number of people across the globe who need humanitarian assistance is rapidly escalating with a total of 168 million people (of whom over half are children). The total financial requirements for one year alone amount to nearly US$29 billion, according to the just launched Global Humanitarian Overview 2020.
168 million people on our globe are dependent on humanitarian aid! How is this possible in the 21st century? What have we done to our world? What are we leaving to the next generation as our legacy? It is time to act. If not now, when?
In two weeks, the world will gather in Geneva for the Global Refugee Forum. Will this be an opportunity to turn the tide, at least for the millions of refugee children and youth forced to flee, yet holding on to a dream?  Let us hope that the Global Refugee Forum becomes a turning point for action. That leaders see things from afar and within, and recognize the relation between themselves, those in need and universal values.
These are values grounded in international law and manifested in political will to action. Because in resolving problems of human suffering in the face of conflict and forced displacement one has to translate values into action. This means comprehensive action matched by financing to produce sustainable outcomes.
Together with our partners in the United Nations, host-governments, strategic donors, civil society and private sector, Education Cannot Wait has just reached close to 2 million girls and boys. Another 7 million children and youth must be reached by 2021.  In Uganda, the government just announced that the Education Cannot Wait investment in the Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities for South Sudanese refugees is a success-story. Still, another $80 million will be required in 2020 for Uganda alone to prevent disruption of this positive model.

Indeed, much more needs to be done. To deliver on the Education Cannot Wait target of quality education to 9 million children and youth in forced displacement and protracted crisis by 2021, US$1.8 billion is required
Is it possible? Yes, provided that we are driven by the same intense desire as Genesis: that all we want to do is to solve problems, alleviate human suffering and empower the next generation.
The Global Refugee Forum may be the test.

Yasmine Sherif
Education Cannot Wait

In the Arab region, education cannot wait

View the orginal article on the global media platform openDemocracy.

Teacher Samah Sawaf with her students at Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan


New Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report published by UNESCO shows forced displacement holding back a generation of learners across the Arab region.

Yasmine Sherif
3 December 2019

Hassan is 16 years old. He fled Syria five years ago with nothing but a school bag on his back. For the last two years he hasn’t stepped foot in a classroom. Since the age of 14 he has been working to support his mother and three little sisters.

I met Hassan earlier this year. His positive spirit made a deep imprint and continues to inspire me. He hopes that soon he will re-join school and dreams of becoming an architect. He is one of millions of children forced to flee their homes across the Arab region, yearning to return to school, reclaim their dignity and realize their dreams.

According to the GEM Report, Migration, displacement and education: Arab States, published in November, there is no place on earth affected by migration and displacement to the same extent as the Arab States.

Despite representing just 5% of the global population, the Arab states account for 32% of the global refugee population and 38% of people displaced within their own borders.

Forced displacement on this scale has had a devastating impact on education and the trends revealed in UNESCO’s report are deeply concerning. They paint the picture of a region lagging globally, one that has seen the pace of education development stymied by decades of conflict and crisis.

For a region draped in so much history, innovation and discovery, it is heart breaking to read these figures.

Providing quality education to all young people is not just a human right, it is an investment in the social fabric of a country. It is the vehicle by which crisis-affected children and youth shape their identity and discover their potential.

If the ‘Arab Spring’ and years that followed have taught us one thing, it is that young people across the Arab region need to be reminded of where they come from, their history and culture, and its contribution to today’s civilization. They need to be given an opportunity to understand their true identity, rebuild their lives and contribute to their societies. This can only be done through quality education.

Evidence has shown that if the upper secondary school enrolment rate is 10% higher than the average, the risk of war in a country drops by 3%. Today’s report shows the Arab region is doing just the opposite: the upper secondary enrolment rate for the region has fallen 5% against the global average.

If governments are serious about addressing the root causes of forced displacement, this trend must be reversed. Adolescent girls and boys have the potential to drive the change the region needs, but they won’t if they are denied their right to learn, discover and develop.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent every year on national security in the Arab region, but only a fraction of that on education. The GEM report makes a compelling case for why governments, donors and the private sector must step up their political and financial support for education. Time has come to make responsible choices for a whole generation of children and youth in a region which once gave so much to our own education elsewhere in the world, be it in math, medicine, astronomy or the arts.

Another worrying trend that stood out as I read the report was the scale of internal displacement and its impact on education systems. The crisis in Syria often invokes images of dangerous Mediterranean crossings and refugees in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

It often surprises people to know that there are just as many Syrians displaced within Syria as there are internationally. 36% of the Syrian population is internally displaced.

In Yemen, it’s 8%. Iraq, Palestine and Sudan have all seen at least 5% of the population displaced internally, as a result of ongoing conflicts.

In the north of Syria, where 60% of the country’s 6 million internally displaced people reside, 1 in 3 schools are unusable because of the war, children are in desperate need of psychosocial support and teachers are often not paid because of breakdowns in local administration.

In Sudan, where conflict over the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states has persisted for many years, internally displaced communities are forced to construct and reconstruct temporary learning spaces on an annual basis. One in five schools are unusable and there are far too few teachers.

The GEM report calls on donors to ‘link their short-term humanitarian response with long-term development system-strengthening interventions’. At Education Cannot Wait, this speaks to the core of our mission.

Our unique approach working with, not through, governments, means we respond where governments are either unable or unwilling to deliver. This allows Education Cannot Wait to apply humanitarian speed, while also investing in capacity development in supporting the governments to become able. In doing so, ECW also aligns its investments with broader system strengthening interventions.

In Yemen, a country split in two by the ongoing war, a $14 million ECW investment is rebuilding schools, providing learning materials to 31,000 children and allowing almost 1.3 million children to sit their annual exams.

Over the years I have travelled widely across the Arab region. Despite the challenges I’ve witnessed, one thing always stays with me: hope. They give me hope and I try to return it by reminding them of who they are.

Because their identity is not the dirt and the mud under their temporary tent in the Bekaa Valley. Their identity is not to stand in line for food all day in the reception centre in Moria. Their identity is not the violence and injustices wrought upon them by the wars in the region.

Rather, their identity dwells in a history of ground-breaking science and breath-taking art. Their identity is rooted in knowledge and contribution to new discoveries in medicine, culture and philosophy.

Only through education can they reclaim that identity. Only then can they fully tap into their resilience and transform into a force of productivity, innovation and service. For their sake and for the sake of all of us, their education cannot wait.

Press Release: Inauguration of 84 Refugee Primary School Classrooms in Gambella Region

View original UNICEF Ethiopia press release


UNICEF Ethiopia/2019/NahomTesfaye


29 November 2019, Gambella, Ethiopia 

Today, 84 classrooms built through funding from Education Cannot Wait in refugee camps are being inaugurated by the Gambella Regional Government and UNICEF. The classrooms were constructed in Nguenyyiel, Terkidi, Kule, and Jewi refugee camps and will enable 8,500 refugee children, 38 per cent of them girls, to receive quality education on a double shift basis.

The classrooms have been constructed as part of a US $15 million two-year investment from Education Cannot Wait aimed at expanding education opportunities for children affected by emergencies and protracted humanitarian crisis in refugee camps and host communities in Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz regions.

In addition to these classrooms, Education Cannot Wait is supporting the construction of three new inclusive model secondary schools and 41 classrooms in eight secondary schools to benefit 3,600 children from refugee camps and the surrounding host communities in the two regions. The schools will be fully fitted with water, toilets, and furniture.

Since April 2017, Education Cannot Wait’s investment has surpassed its targets and reached over 138,000 children in refugee and host communities in the two regions. The support has included training of 683 teachers at certificate and diploma level, distribution of 500 education and recreation kits and provision of school grants to improve education quality, training refugee and host community teachers in child-centered teaching methods and conducting accelerated school readiness classes for over 12,000 out-of-school children aged between six and seven years.

Partners in the school construction project include the Ministry of Education, Regional Education Bureaus, the Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs, UNHCR, UNICEF, Plan International and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.



23 October 2019, Rome – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Education Cannot Wait (ECW), today embarked on a strategic partnership to ensure children and youth in emergencies do not miss out on the education opportunities that will shape their futures.  

WFP Assistant Executive Director, Valerie Guarnieri, and ECW Director, Yasmine Sherif, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding at WFP’s headquarters in Rome, to strengthen joint programming and joint advocacy at a global level.


Watch Yasmine Sherif and Valerie Guarnieri explain why this new partnership is important as they sign the agreement.


There are currently 73 million children living in extreme poverty who attend school but are missing out on the school feeding, health and nutrition programmes that are essential for their ability to learn. WFP and ECW are committed to address this through an integrated approach that tackles the multiple needs of each child learner.

“Simply put, sick children cannot attend school and hungry children cannot learn,” said Valerie Guarnieri. “It is essential we invest more in the health and nutrition of young learners, particularly girls. We need to assist governments and communities to reap the full benefits of their important investments in education. Through our new partnership with Education Cannot Wait we will work collectively to meet the nutrition and education needs of children who risk being left behind,” said Guarnieri.

Situations of armed conflict, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises around the world are disrupting the education of some 75 million children and youth. In such contexts, families often lack the means to feed their children or send them to school. While missing a meal can have a physical impact on a child, chronic food insecurity impacts a child’s learning and their well-being. The new WFP-ECW partnership will help lift some of these barriers, enhancing access to quality, inclusive education for vulnerable children in emergency and crisis settings.

“For many children and youth in crisis-affected countries, a meal at school may be the only food they eat all day and can be an important incentive for families to send and keep girls and boys in school. It is also essential for a young person to actually focus and learn,” said Yasmine Sherif.

“Our partnership with the World Food Programme will help improve learning outcomes, retention and performance for children reached through Education Cannot Wait’s investments. Together with our partners, we must work towards responses that encompass the whole well-being of a child, creating conducive and protective learning environments.”

In its first two years of operation, ECW has reached more than 1.5 million children and youth caught in crises with education and has investments in 32 countries. Half of the beneficiaries are girls and 51 per cent of the children and youth reached are refugees or internally displaced. Education Cannot Wait and partners call on world leaders, private sector and philanthropic organizations to urgently mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to reach 9 million children and youth caught in crises annually. Along with partners, the Fund has already mobilized over half-a-billion dollars (US$560 million) since its inception.

School feeding programmes in crisis contexts are a highly effective tool to address children’s diet, nutrition, education and security needs as part of a wider school-based package. These safety nets help provide children with a sense of normalcy and promote social cohesion and stability during crises.

Over the last 50 years, WFP has scaled-up school feeding programmes in more than 100 countries to ensure that children have access to nutritionally adequate food to support their enrolment, attendance and learning in schools. In 2018, WFP provided school meals or snacks for 16.4 million in 64,000 schools – of whom 3.4 million are children in emergencies and protracted crises. Education Cannot Wait’s investments have already supported school-feeding programmes in Somalia, Uganda and Yemen, with plans to expand to additional countries through the new partnership.

Under the new agreement, WFP and ECW will engage in joint programming at the country and regional levels.  In particular, WFP and ECW are conducting joint missions in priority countries to identify challenges related to school feeding as a driver of increased enrolment and continuity in education. The two organisations will also work together globally to inspire greater political commitment and financial resources for school-based interventions, that address children’s education, nutrition and health needs in emergencies and protracted crises.


This joint news release is also available on WFP’s website.


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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media


Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the first global, multi-lateral 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.

Follow us on Twitter: @EduCannotWait

Additional information is available at and


For more information please contact:

Frances Kennedy WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3725, Mob. +39 346 7600806

Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob.  +1 202 770 599

Anouk Desgroseilliers,, +1-917-640-6820

Kent Page,, +1-917-302-1735






GENEVA/NEW YORK, 30 August 2019 – Education Cannot Wait reached more than 1.4 million children and youth caught in armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises in its first two years of operation, according to the Fund’s 2018 Annual Report, launched today at the United Nations in Geneva by the Director of the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund, Yasmine Sherif.

“Nearly one and a half million children and youth furthest left behind in conflicts, forced displacement and disasters have been given the hope, opportunity and safety of a quality education,” said Yasmine Sherif. These girls and boys are now benefitting from quality, inclusive education, helping them to cope with the trauma and stress of crises, and to regain the chance to develop to their full potential and arise out of their suffering.


Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the first global fund for education in emergencies and it seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to reach 9 million children and youth living in crises and displacement. ECW works to bring those furthest behind to the forefront; of the children and youth reached, almost 50 per cent are girls, 46 per cent are refugees and internally displaced persons, and 14,000 are children with disabilities. In situations of conflict, forced displacement and disasters, these children and youth are too often the most marginalized. Without access to education, they face high risks of exploitation and abuse, sexual violence, early marriage and pregnancies, forced recruitment by armed groups as well as toxic stress and trauma.

The report also shows that ECW is increasing the speed of delivering education in emergency responses in new or escalating crises. Through its emergency funding allocations, in-country responders were able to rapidly provide or restore learning opportunities to children and adolescents in sudden onset crises such as during the new displacements in the Democratic Republic in the Congo and the new displacements in Nigeria.

Beyond short-term responses, ECW is also pioneering joint programmes to advance humanitarian and development coherence, supporting a crucial shift of the aid system to provide continuous quality, inclusive education in protracted crises and forced displacement contexts that very often last longer than the average school curriculum.

In 2018, ECW and its partners launched four ground-breaking Multi-Year Resilience Programmes to deliver longer-term education solutions to crisis-affected girls and boys in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Central Africa Republic and Uganda. In partnership with strategic donors, national governments, communities, UN agencies, NGOs and private sector partners, ECW has laid the ground for such multi-year education responses to be launched in a total of 25 priority countries affected by crises by 2021.

Protection, access, quality learning outcomes and gender equality are top priorities across ECW’s investments. The Fund also promotes safe, inclusive learning environments and gender-sensitive programmes through a wide range of interventions. These include supporting the training of female teachers, the provision of psycho-social support, support to children’s transportation to and from schools, support for the inclusion of refugee children in host-countries national education systems, support to teacher training and incentives, temporary learning structures, remedial classes, non-formal education and vocational training opportunities, etc.

ECW also exceeded its target in supporting the aid localization agenda and the Grand Bargain commitments, with close to 30 per cent of its funding going as directly as possible to local responders, according to the report. “ECW is a catalyst for collective efforts. Its diverse range of local, national and international partners are devoted to building locally owned and sustainable solutions to bring quality education to millions more children and youth living in crises who don’t have access to an education,” Sherif said. “Only by working together and staying firm on our commitments can we accelerate advancement towards the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG4, which calls on world leaders to ensure education for every girl and boy by 2030.”

Since its inception, ECW has mobilized US$460 million to date to support children and youth living in 29 countries – with a total of US$333.5 million mobilized by the end of 2018, according to the report. And, as a result of ongoing advocacy and resource mobilization efforts of ECW, 15 strategic donor partners, civil society organizations, national governments and UN Agencies, the crucial role of education in crisis settings and the urgent need for increased funding is increasingly recognized on the global political agenda.

This is shown by recent unprecedented commitments by key stakeholders: the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development £90 million contribution to ECW at the G7 this month; the European Union’s announcement to devote 10 per cent of its humanitarian aid budget to education; and, the landmark G7 2018 Charlevoix Declaration on girls’ education in crisis.

However, despite the well-documented potential of education as an enabler to break cycles of poverty and protracted crises, and while donors have increased their focus on education in emergencies and protracted crises, the funding gap for education in emergency and crisis settings remains very large. According to the report, 56 per cent of the total amount of resources needed for education in emergencies appeals were unfunded in 2018, and the share of funding for education in emergencies increased only slightly – from 3.8 to 4.3 per cent of all humanitarian funding in 2018. ECW and its partners continue to appeal to governments, private sector, and philanthropic organizations to urgently mobilize $1.8 billion in funding for education in emergencies and protracted crisis by 2021 to support 9 million children annually


Results Highlights 2018*

  • 1,413,936 crisis-affected children and youth reached
    • 47% girls, 46% refugees and internally displaced, 14,000 children with disabilities
  • 2,798 classrooms built or rehabilitated
  • 726,610 children received individual learning materials
  • 20,047 teachers trained – 44% female
  • 78,425 children supported through early childhood education – 52% girls
  • 44% of ECW-supported countries promoted the use of a teacher’s code of conduct
  • 50% of ECW-supported countries trained teachers in psychosocial support
  • 33% of ECW-supported countries provided psycho-social support services




*Children are reached through a comprehensive approach with different types of assistance that are context-specific (e.g. upgraded learning spaces, teachers trained or financially supported, learning materials, school feeding, etc.) Figures on the number of children and teachers reached are cumulative for the calendar year 2018, based on reports from ECW grants active in 2018. The total number of children reached does not include data for Yemen. Due to the highly complex nature of the crisis, about 1.3 million children in Yemen were supported to take end-of-cycle exams and received food rations. As this type of assistance is different from the assistance provided in other countries, beneficiaries are featured separately pending further aggregation of data.

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. 

To date, ECW has invested in education in emergencies for children in the following countries affected by crises: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, State of Palestine, Papua-New Guinea, Peru, Somalia, Syria, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela (regional response), Yemen, Zimbabwe.  

Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait  @YasmineSherif1 @KentPage  

Additional information available at: and

For press inquiries, please contact:
Anouk Desgroseilliers,, +1-917-640-6820

For any other inquiries, please contact:



NEW YORK, 25 August 2019 – Education Cannot Wait warmly welcomes today’s announcement by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, to allocate £90 million (US$110.5 million) in new funding to provide education opportunities for vulnerable children and youth caught in armed conflicts, natural disasters, forced displacement and protracted crises around the world.

“This generous contribution for education in emergencies by the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) to Education Cannot Wait is the largest, single contribution received thus far and will have a massive, positive impact,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “It will benefit 600,000 children and youth – especially girls – whose education is disrupted and leaves them furthest behind due to armed conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies around the world.” 

“We are deeply grateful to the Prime Minister, DFID and all the people of the United Kingdom for their generosity and confidence in the progress being made to rapidly and efficiently invest in quality education in some of the world’s most dangerous and unstable situations,” continued Sherif. “This progress is a collective one: Education Cannot Wait applies the New Way of Working in close collaboration with governments, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector.”    

This significant contribution will accelerate access to education for girls as a priority, as well as for children with disabilities, children from minority groups, and refugee and displaced children. These are among the most vulnerable and most excluded from a viable, quality education that will bring them the hope, learning, safety and opportunity they need, want and deserve. 

“This investment in education is not only an investment in children and youth, it is indeed an investment in our shared humanity. For a girl in a conflict or crisis-stricken country, it is a double investment: education is an empowering, transformative force for good, which also helps end the denial of her humanity,” said Sherif. “It also makes good on global commitments as it will accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4: to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education.”

Girls in crisis settings are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than those living in countries where there is no crisis. In armed conflicts and other crises, out-of-school girls are at high risk of sexual abuse and exploitation, forced and early marriage, recruitment and child labor. Education can offer them the hope, protection, sense of normalcy and possibility of a brighter future that they need and deserve.

The Government of the United Kingdom is a founding member of Education Cannot Wait. With this new unprecedented pledge, the UK becomes Education Cannot Wait’s biggest donor, with the UK’s total contribution now amounting to US$154 million to the global Education Cannot Wait fund. 

ECW and its partners have already reached nearly 1.5 million children and youth in crises with quality education opportunities, and plan to launch multi-year educational responses in 25 priority countries by 2021. It is the first global multi-lateral fund dedicated to education for children and youth in war zones, natural disasters and crises.

Civil society organizations around the world have joined Education Cannot Wait in welcoming DFID’s important contribution and appeal to other governments, the private sector and philanthropic organizations to urgently mobilize $1.8 billion in funding for education in emergencies by 2021 to support 9 million children annually.  


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. 

ECW various investments in education in emergencies for children are operational in 29 countries around the world: Chad, Syria, Ethiopia, Yemen, Ukraine, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia, Peru, State of Palestine, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua-New Guinea, Lebanon, Panama, Indonesia, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Ecuador, Brazil, Comoros, Cameroon, Colombia, Greece, Zimbabwe.  


Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait  @DFID_UK  @YasmineSherif1  @DFID_Education  @KentPage  

Additional information available at: and


For press inquiries, please contact:
Kent Page,, +1-917-302-1735

Anouk Desgrolliers,, +1-917-640-6820


For any other inquiries, please contact:






20 June 2019, New York – Today, on World Refugee Day, Education Cannot Wait announces a new partnership with ProFuturo to improve access to quality education and learning opportunities for children uprooted by conflict and crises through digital education and teacher training solutions.

Through this partnership, ProFuturo – an education initiative by Spanish Telefónica Foundation and “La Caixa” Foundation – will support digital education solutions in a number of Education Cannot Wait’s multi-year education programmes, with a focus on providing education to refugee children, internally displaced children and their host communities.
“The partnership with Education Cannot Wait will allow ProFuturo to extend the scope of its work and adapt its innovative educational program to address the needs of children caught in areas of conflict and crises” said ProFuturo Director General, Sofía Fernández de Mesa. “No child should be deprieved of quality education, regardless of the situation they are going through. Education is their gateway to a better future.”
Work is already underway in Ethiopia, where Profuturo is participating in defining the multi-year programme being developed by Education Cannot Wait in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, UNHCR, Save the Children, Plan International, other international organizations and donors, and national civil society partners.
The three-year programme addresses the needs of refugee out-of-school children and those deprived of education due to the internal displacement of populations fuelled by insecurity and climate change related emergencies, such as drought and floods. ProFuturo is integrating digital education solutions in the programme – which will be implemented and financed by ProFuturo and its partners – to  complement more traditional learning approaches.
“Education Cannot Wait welcomes this ground-breaking partnership with ProFuturo. For girls and boys in crisis situations,  such as refugees and internally displaced, technology can be a powerful enabler for learning,” said Education Cannot Wait Director, Yasmine Sherif. “By working together, we leverage each organization’s strengths and expertise to deliver more impactful results for these children and youth,” she said.

Both partners are committed to collaborating in countries that represent a shared priority and where ProFuturo’s innovative education program may be scaled up to benefit more children, working in partnership with Ministries of Education and other international and national organizations to ensure more effective and sustainable interventions.

ProFuturo has adapted its digital education programme to refugee contexts with a holistic approach aligned with the principles of the International Network of Education in Emergencies (INEE), with the goal of ensuring, in both formal and non-formal education contexts, three fundamental pillars: access to education, quality of learning, and resilience of refugee children. ProFuturo trains teachers and deploys equipment and/or software to provide digital learning experiences for elementary-school aged children and support teachers’ professional development.
Working with a wide range of international and national partners, Education Cannot Wait – the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies – is reaching 1.4 million children and youth in some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. This includes close to half a million refugees and 200,000 internally displaced children – half of the total children reached by the Fund are girls.
“Strong and innovative partnerships like the one we announce today are essential for the global community to deliver on the promise of Sustainable Development Goal 4. Only through  collaborative partnerships can we deliver quality education for every single girl and boy on the planet by 2030 – and not leave behind the millions of children and youth in conflicts and displacement,” said Yasmine Sherif. 

Education Cannot Wait and its partners just launched a $1.8 billion call to action for governments, private sector companies, philanthropic foundations and global leaders to rise and support the Fund’s efforts in mobilizing resources to fill the funding gap for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Key Facts and Figures

  • More than half of the world’s refugee children – 4 million – are not in school. They face the double jeopardy of losing both their homes and their education. Without an education, these children do not have a future.
  • Refugee children are 5 times more likely to be out of school than other children in the countries in which they are displaced.
  • Refugee girls are more likely to be out of school than boys.
  • Only 61% of refugee children have access to primary education, compared to a global level of more than 90%.
  • Only 22% of refugee adolescents attend secondary, compared to a global level of 84%.
  • Of the world’s refugees, 85% live in low-income and middle-income countries whose education systems already struggle to meet the needs of the marginalised.

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.
Since it became operational in 2017, ECW has invested US$139.5 million and committed an additional $85 million in 25 crisis-affected countries. To date, the Fund is reaching more than 1.4 million children.
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.

Additional information is available at

For press enquiries, contact: Anouk Desgroseilliers, , +1 917 640-6820

For any other enquiries, contact:   

About ProFuturo

ProFuturo is a digital education program launched by Fundación Telefónica and “La Caixa” Foundation,  whose mission is to reduce the educational gap in the world by providing quality digital education to children in vulnerable environments in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Its aim is to provide the best education to 10 million children in vulnerable environments in 2020 and to 25 million in 2030.
The educational proposal incorporates professional teacher development through training, digital resources and new teaching-learning methodologies.
In addition, the program aims to welcome and promote the participation of other companies and institutions and aims to create a large international network of teachers who teach, learn and share knowledge to achieve, among all, a better education in the world.
Since its birth in 2016 ProFuturo has reached 28 countries, benefited 8 million children and trained almost 300,000 teachers.

E-mail contact: Mobile: 669326271