Statement of the ECW Director, Yasmine Sherif, at the Ministerial Roundtable for the Central Sahel

20 October 2020 – as prepared for delivery

Education Cannot Wait is the first and only global fund dedicated to supporting the education of children and youth in emergencies and protracted crises, including armed conflict.  Following the escalation of the crises in Central Sahel in 2019, particularly in Burkina Faso, ECW has been engaging with the governments and education partners in all three countries, including UN agencies and civil society organizations.  ECW sees education as a central, key component of any sustainable solution to crises, not only ensuring that children and youths’ right to education is fulfilled but also in contributing to peace, tolerance and understanding as a basis for long-lasting stability.  Since July 2019, ECW has approved $30 million in grants to the three countries in four funding phases to over 20 different grantees – thanks to generous support from our diverse donor base, including the governments of the United Kingdom, United States and Denmark.  We would like to take the opportunity today to say two things:  First, ECW, working across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, is now committing an additional $33 million to the three countries over the next three years in support of multi-year resilience programme funding. This will support existing education in emergencies strategies and help them to bridge longer-term development interventions outlined in the respective sector plans.  Secondly, we appeal to other donors to join ECW in recognising the central role of education in tackling the crises in Central Sahel by swiftly increasing their financing to eliminate the $94 million gap which ECW is urgently needed for education in the crises affected zones across all three countries.



Click here for more information on the Ministerial Roundtable for the Central Sahel

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Filippo Grandi is the 11th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
He was elected by the UN General Assembly on 1 January 2016 to serve a five-year term, until 31 December 2020. Grandi has been engaged in refugee and humanitarian work for more than 30 years.

Filippo Grandi is the 11th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He was elected by the UN General Assembly on 1 January 2016 to serve a five-year term, until 31 December 2020. Grandi has been engaged in refugee and humanitarian work for more than 30 years.

Education Cannot Wait: As the UN agency mandated by the UN General Assembly to provide international protection and seek solutions for refugees, could you please elaborate on the overall importance of education for refugee children as a component of protection and solutions?

Filippo Grandi: School is often one of the very first things that refugee families ask about after being displaced. Keen to recover a sense of normalcy and dignity after the trauma of being uprooted, they are also heavily invested in their children’s futures. Many children and young people are displaced several times before crossing a border and becoming a refugee. For these children school is the first place they start to regain a sense of routine, safety, friendship and even peace. Education plays a key role, both in ensuring the protection of children and young people and helps families and children focus on rebuilding their lives and returning to many of the activities that they would normally have engaged in prior to displacement.

As UNHCR’s recent Education Report 2020 has shown, whilst there have been some successes in access to primary education, these have slowed down. Gross Enrollment Ratios show that 77 per cent of refugee children are enrolled in primary education, but this drops dramatically to 31 per cent at the secondary level. Girls are disproportionately impacted. Since global evidence shows the significant protective nature of secondary education for girls, this is a key aspect of work for UNHCR and partners like Education Cannot Wait.

Together, we are petitioning for refugee enrollment in education at all levels to be brought up to global levels to enable the millions of children and young people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. Allowed to learn, develop and thrive, children will grow up to contribute to the societies that host them but also to their homelands when peace allows for their return. Education is one of the most important ways to solve the world’s crises.

Filippo Grandi meets children at the Jibreen shelter in Aleppo, Syria. Jibreen is now home to over 5,000 people displaced during fighting in the city. © UNHCR/Firas Al-Khateeb

Education Cannot Wait: You are a long-standing member of Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Steering Group. As you know, Education Cannot Wait is designed to ensure that children can continue their education in times of emergencies and protracted crises. Please elaborate on the special needs of refugee children during emergencies and protracted crises, and how do you see Education Cannot Wait contributing to meeting those rights and needs?

Filippo Grandi: The Global Compact for Refugees calls for measures to enable children and youth return to learning within three months of displacement. This goal highlights the important role that education – both formal and non-formal –  plays in supporting children to resume normal activities. Children can feel a sense of belonging with their peers in classrooms, have the opportunity to play and engage in recreational activities, and receive potentially lifesaving information on issues related to health, hygiene and safety. Schools also provide access to support services, such as counselling and school-feeding programmes.

Preparing refugee children to enter into the national education systems of host communities is critical and requires working closely with Ministries of Education to remove administrative and policy barriers to school enrollment.  It also entails ensuring children have the skills and abilities needed in order to thrive once they are enrolled in schools. Language learning classes – especially where the language of instruction is different – catch up programmes, and accelerated education all support children’s enrollment into school and ability to learn effectively. It is also important to provide information and material assistance to assist families overcome some of the practical barriers to school enrollment. Psycho-social support is also instrumental for children who have undergone the trauma of displacement and need help in adapting to new situations and environments.

The support provided by Education Cannot Wait enables agencies and organizations to ensure that services are provided after the onset of an emergency to address the immediate needs that have been highlighted above, focusing both on protection and education needs and working to ensure that children are prepared for inclusion in formal education programmes. Education Cannot Wait has also played a pivotal role in calling for donors to invest in education during and after emergencies to ensure children’s educational needs can be met during humanitarian crises, as evidenced by the increase in investment in education in emergencies over the last four years.

Education Cannot Wait: A significant number of pledges made by countries and other stakeholders at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum centered around education, including individual and joint pledges made by Education Cannot Wait highlighting multi-year investments to increase opportunities in secondary education for refugee children, and in working with other global funds to support quality education for refugees. What gaps in funding are there for refugee education globally and where best can donors help, including countries, civil society and private enterprises?

Filippo Grandi: While funding to education in emergencies grew five-fold between 2015 and 2019, education usually only receives between 2 and 5 percent of the total budget of humanitarian appeals. As we move from emergency situations to protracted crises, there is a risk that education spending is further deprioritized, making it harder to support host governments to continue the delivery of education services over a sustained period.

Funding gaps in education mean that it is often difficult to ensure that children and youth complete a full cycle of education, moving from primary, through secondary and to tertiary education.  Global figures show that there is a dramatic drop in enrollment between primary and secondary education and that only 3 percent of refugee youth are enrolled in tertiary education programmes.

Funding gaps also mean that those who are most in need, including children in women- or child-headed households and those with disabilities do not receive the specialized support that is required in order to fully enjoy their right to education. The joint pledge at the Global Refugee Forum by Education Cannot Wait, the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education has the potential to be a game changer in terms of ensuring that systems are strengthened and supported so that refugees and other vulnerable populations enjoy continued access to education.

Education Cannot Wait: Education Cannot Wait has dedicated its second round of COVID-19 First Emergency Response investments for refugee situations throughout the world. Could you please elaborate on some of the key emergencies in terms of refugee education for UNHCR and the difference that Education Cannot Wait’s emergency response for COVID-19 will make?

Filippo Grandi: The closure of schools around the world effectively meant that 90 percent of refugee children who were enrolled in schools and education programmes were unable to continue receiving an education.

As they are located in some of the most remote areas in countries or have limited resources at home, they were unable to benefit fully from distance and home-based learning programmes and are at serious risk of falling further behind academically. This risk is even more serious for adolescent girls where an estimated 50 percent of girls who were in school are at risk of not returning once classes resume. The closure of schools also means that many of the wrap-around support services mentioned earlier (food distribution, psycho-social support and recreational activities and learning support programmes) were disrupted.

Families who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic experience greater economic pressure and may deprioritize spending what little resources they have on schooling in order to ensure that their most basic needs are met. All these factors contribute to heighten protection risks during periods of school closure, leaving the educational futures of many refugee children hanging in the balance. 

Keeping education going during a pandemic requires resourcefulness, innovation, invention and collaboration. Education Cannot Wait’s funding for the COVID-19 response will play a key role in mitigating these risks, by finding ways of ensuring that students are able to continue learning during school closures, disseminating information to refugee families about re-opening procedures and the safety protocols that will be put in place, training teachers on adjusting to the pandemic, providing additional materials to students, implementing back to school campaigns and making much-needed improvements to water and sanitation facilities in schools. Many of these activities have already been initiated with the generous support of Education Cannot Wait. 

Education Cannot Wait: UNHCR and ECW have also jointly coordinated closely with host-governments, humanitarian and development actors in developing multi-year resilience investments, such as the Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities in Uganda. How do you see this strengthening education for refugees and host-communities in the humanitarian-development nexus?

Filippo Grandi: The theme of UNHCR’s 2020 report is ‘Coming Together for Refugee Education’. This focus really echoes the Global Compact on Refugees which advocates for a “whole of society” approach to ensuring that the needs of refugees and hosting communities are addressed.  This means that a range of stakeholders have a role to play in realizing the goals of the Compact.  The presence of a clear plan and set of objectives for supporting access to education helps define roles and areas of contribution for a broad range of stakeholders. It is crucial that there are linkages between refugee and humanitarian response plans, multi-year resilience plans and longer-term sector development plans.

Education Cannot Wait’s support for education programming immediately after the onset of an emergency and the longer-term assistance provided through Multi-Year Resilience Programmes plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between humanitarian and development financing.  The inclusion of refugees in host-country education systems means that donors and other actors need to work closely with governments to increase the capacity of these systems to accommodate additional students, develop teachers’ abilities to respond to students’ needs and to ensure that children can progress through different educational levels.

Education Cannot Wait: Would there be any final comments you would wish to make to ECW’s audience globally regarding the importance of refugee children’s education in emergencies?

Filippo Grandi: Investment in education for refugees is essential to ensure that creativity and potential of young people in conflict and crisis-affected regions is not lost.  During the COVID-19 pandemic refugee students have played pivotal roles in their communities working on the frontlines as healthcare workers, making masks and soap to be distributed to those who need it, offering advice and disseminating health and hygiene information and establishing programmes for tutoring younger students. Their drive, initiative and passion would have been lost without early investment in their education. 

Education for refugees is an investment that pays off for the whole community – and the world. It is also a fundamental right for all children that is affirmed in the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This right must also be upheld in emergencies where we call on global actors to focus not only on access but on the quality of education and children’s ability to learn, leading them to a brighter and more dignified future.


This interview is also published by IPSNews and is available in French and in Spanish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stronger Together: Education in Emergencies & Protracted Crises

12 August 2020 – ‘Stronger collective efforts and collaboration are key to meeting the urgent education needs of children and youth affected by crises’: this is the unifying message from leaders and youth advocates brought together by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and Devex in a high-level, Global Discussion held online on 12 August,  on the occasion of International Youth Day.

Over 2,550 people from across the world tuned in to watch the ‘Stronger Together: Education in Emergencies & Protracted Crises’ event live, which was chaired by UN Special Envoy for Global Education, the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, hosted by ECW Director Yasmine Sherif, and moderated by Devex Editor-in-Chief, Raj Kumar. The Global Discussion shone a spotlight on the challenges faced by girls and boys caught in humanitarian crises to access education.

The discussion was particularly relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has further compounded barriers and plunged the world into the worst education crisis of our lifetime. Eminent expert speakers from around the world underscored potential solutions to meet these challenges and the progress made in recent years, as evidenced in the new ECW Annual Results Report. They stressed the importance of building on these achievements and ramping up efforts to avoid losing hard won gains to the pandemic.

UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the ECW High Level Steering Group, the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, kicked off the discussion by emphasizing that the world’s most vulnerable crisis-affected children and youth are now doubly hit by COVID-19. While 13 million refugees, 40 million displaced and an overall 75 million girls and boys in conflict and emergency zones already had their education disrupted, with the impact of COVID-19, another 30 million – who were in school before the pandemic – may now never continue their education. ‘It is incumbent upon us to send out a message of hope that, by getting every child who is in a conflict or an emergency zone into school, we can be the first generation in which every child is getting the chance of schooling,’ he said.

UNHCR High Profile Supporter and Syrian Youth Advocate for Refugees Nujeen Mustafa underlined that education is an inherent right and that it is ‘unacceptable and inexcusable’ for millions of children and young people to be denied this right. Recounting her story and the difficulties she faced in accessing learning opportunities as a disabled girl growing up in Syria, she called on policymakers not to see children from conflict zones as ‘a burden or a problem to solve’ but rather as ‘treasures’ who should be valued and provided with the opportunities they deserve.

Norway’s Minister of International Development, Dag Ulstein, stressed that ‘we are in the midst of a crisis that we never thought would come, which makes it even more difficult for the most marginalized ones to access education, especially in areas affected by conflict and crises.’ Minister Ulstein reaffirmed Norway’s commitment to education in emergencies and protracted crises saying ‘no one should be left behind.’ He underlined how Nujeen’s personal story is a testament to why it is so crucial to invest in the most marginalized girls and boys to fulfill their right to education and unlock their full potential.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly T. Clements, stated that ‘education is a lifeline for refugee children and youth’ and it is ‘our duty to provide it to them’. She highlighted how COVID-19 is making it even more difficult for refugees to access education, especially for those who lack the necessary connectivity for remote learning solutions or for those who can no longer access the specialized support they need. Clements stressed the urgency of increasing support, in particular for refugee girls, who face heightened risks of child marriages, early pregnancies and sexual violence. 

ECW Director, Yasmine Sherif, presented key highlights of the new ECW 2019 Annual Results Report showing how stronger collaboration and multilateral efforts are key to achieving inclusive, equitable quality education outcomes for children and youth in crises settings. She underscored ECW’s flexibility and lean structure as instrumental to increasing the speed of education emergency responses and the accountability to crisis-affected communities. Sherif also stressed encouraging funding trends with close to $800 million mobilized to date by ECW at both the global level and with ECW-supported country-based programmes, as well as the growing share of global humanitarian funding allocated to education that went from 2.6 per cent in 2015 to 5.1 per cent in 2019. Despite this progress, she said ‘much more remains to be done’ and appealed donors to urgently contribute an additional $310 million to ECW. ‘We are about to enter a new phase where education will be put at the forefront. If we all work together, we jointly can take this to the next level’, she stressed.

‘If my education had waited, I would not be the Minister of Education today in Afghanistan,’ said H.E. Rangina Hamidi. The first female Minister of Education since the post-Taliban era of Afghanistan related how her father’s determination for his girls to be educated led him to seek refuge with his family in the United States. Minister Hamidi stressed that 3.7 million children are out of school today in Afghanistan, 60 per cent of whom are girls. She said the COVID-19 pandemic must be seized as an opportunity to be creative and think beyond the traditional provision of education. ‘If girls cannot attend school and access traditional education, then, we need to take education to girls where they are: in their villages, in their homes,’ she said. Minister Hamidi stressed that Afghanistan has become a leader in community-based education: ‘We have successful results that show that when you take education to their communities, girls do get educated’. 

UNHCR DAFI Scholar and Youth Advocate for Refugees, Deborah Kalumbi, recounted her story as a refugee girl forced to flee her home in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo for Zambia, and the challenges she faced in accessing education in a different language in a new country. Education helped me embrace and accept my new life,’ she stressed. She also highlighted how important education is to protect refugees, in particular refugee girls who face increased risks of child marriage and early pregnancies if they are out-of-school.   

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta H. Fore, stressed that ‘education is the foundation of all humanitarian and development responses’ and must the addressed as a continuum from the first day of an emergency through to recovery and longer-term development. She underscored five areas that must be prioritized to ensure girls in emergencies and protracted crises can have a better access to education: affordability of education, access to distance learning, community mobilization and mentoring, protection and youth participation. ‘Education is the greatest asset we can give to a young people,’ she said. Fore called on all event participants to join forces to connect every child and young person to learning in the coming years – including through access to distance learning and digital skills – which has the potential to truly ‘change the world.’

Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, Kamal Khera, stressed that ‘Education Cannot Wait has been a leader in demonstrating how education programming can be quickly and efficiently rolled out within the humanitarian, development and peace nexus’. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, she stressed the importance of seizing the opportunity of the reopening of schools to create better and more resilient education systems that provide access to the most marginalized and vulnerable children and youth, including the inclusion of refugees in national education systems.

Theirworld President, Justin Van Fleet, called on world leaders and policymakers to deliver on their commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals. ‘We have the technology and the resources we need, we have all the partners and we know what needs to be done. There is no excuse to not achieve these education goals,’ he stressed.  ‘We know that education is what unlocks the solution to the pandemic: economic growth, jobs for young people, better health, nutrition, and we know that investing in early years is what gives a child the best start in life,’ he said. Van Fleet underscored the importance for young people to hold leaders to account and to keep pushing this agenda. ‘There is no excuse to give up right now,’ he said.

Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary-General, Jan Egeland, wrapped up the discussion stressing the importance of recognizing achievements in the field of education in emergencies and protracted crises in recent years. ‘There has been progress, we need to build on that.’ However, Egeland stated that youth (15-24 years old) have been excluded from this progress and are largely ‘out of education, out of livelihoods and out of hope’ and must urgently be prioritized. He also underscored the massive setback of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘The crisis is profound, therefore the investment in alternative education, remote education, new technology has to be much bigger,’ he said. Egeland concluded his remarks with a message from children: ‘we need education as much as we need food, it is a question of survival.’


For additional information:

Click here to watch the full recording of the event.

Explore the interactive portal of the ECW 2019 Annual Results Report

Download the full ECW Annual Report and its Executive Summary

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW)

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

On Twitter, please follow: @EduCannotWait  @YasmineSherif1 @KentPage  
Additional information available at:

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

For other inquiries:  



21 June 2019, New York – Education Cannot Wait announces a two-year $14 million allocation to support the launch of ground-breaking multi-year education programmes in the Federal Government of Somalia and Member States, Somaliland, and Puntland. The programmes target an overall total of 583,000 vulnerable girls and boys in a country stricken by decades of conflict, widespread violence and disasters, such as droughts and floods.

Hooriyo IDP School, Daynile, District, Somalia, Constructed by FENPS with ECW Grant in 2017 Credits: Save the Children

Education Cannot Wait facilitated the development of the programmes under the leadership of the three Education Authorities with a wide range of national and international partners. With this seed funding allocation, the Fund aims to catalyze additional financing from donors towards the total budget of the programmes that amounts to $191 million over the 2019-2021 period.

“This investment unites partners around quality education for over  half a million vulnerable girls and boys in Somalia. Finally, they will have an opportunity to lift themselves out of a cycle of disenfranchisement, violence and crisis,” said Education Cannot Wait Director, Yasmine Sherif. “This investment reaches those left furthest behind. We hope that this marks an end to their long wait for the basic right to education,”  she said. 

An estimated 3 million children are out of school across Somalia and the country has one of the world’s lowest ratios of primary-age children attendance. Only 30 per cent of boys and 21 per cent of girls of primary-school age attend primary school. At the secondary level, access to education is even more limited, especially for girls: 92 per cent of adolescents within the official age range for secondary school are not enrolled in secondary education. Children uprooted by the crisis are also particularly affected, with nearly two-thirds of displaced children not attending school.

The three programmes focus on increasing equitable access to quality education, providing safe learning environments and ensuring retention and improved learning outcomes for the most vulnerable girls and boys.  Displaced, returnee and host community children as well as children living in remote areas are specifically targeted. Activities include the rehabilitation of schools, school-feeding programmes, psychosocial support, alternative basic education and the provision of teaching and learning materials. Training and awarenesss-raising activities to increase enrolment and retention rates, address barriers to girls’ education and promote child protection and safeguarding best practices are also planned. 

Education Cannot Wait’s initial $14 million allocation is distributed over 2019-2020, with $7 million being disbursed the first year to kickstart the three programmes and $7million to be disbursed the second year, subject to satisfactory performance.

The three multi-year programmes were developed over several months in close collaboration with in-country education partners and donors. The programmes are aligned to the Education Sector Strategic Plans, Somalia’s humanitarian response plan and the Joint Resilience Action Programme produced by UN agencies in-country.

The multi-year programmes build on the achievements of Education Cannot Wait’s 2017-2018 First Emergency Response programme of $4.9 million in Somalia which focused on retaining children in schools through school feeding programmes, access to safe drinking water and promotion of hygiene best practices, support to teachers with emergency incentives, support to Community Education Committees, and the provision of teaching and learning supplies.


Key Facts and Figures

  • An estimated 3 million school aged children are out of school in Somalia
  • 25% of adolescent girls aged 15 to 24 are illiterate in the country
  • 62% of internally displaced children age 5-17 years in Somalia are not attending school
  • 92% of adolescents within the official age range for secondary school are not enrolled in secondary education
  • The overall budget of the three multi-year programmes is $191 million over 3 years (i.e. approximately $63 million per year)
  • Education Cannot Wait’s seed funding allocation amounts to $7 million per year, divided among the programmes on a needs basis ($2.9 million for the programme in the Federal Government of Somalia and Member States, $2.2 million for the programme in Somaliland, and $1.8 million for the programme in Puntland)
  • If fully funded, the three programmes will benefit close to 583,000 children and youth – half of whom are girls – and 12,000 teachers (40% female).

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 the Fund has invested in 25 crisis-affected countries is reaching more than 1.4 million children and youth. 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:  



20 November 2018, New York – The Government of Germany announced today a substantial 15 million euros (US$ 17 million) pledge for Education Cannot Wait, a new global fund dedicated to respond rapidly and provide sustainable quality education to millions of children and youth living in crisis worldwide.

The new pledge adds to Germany’s initial 16 million euros ($US18.7 million) contribution to Education Cannot Wait, providing a total of 31 million euros ($35.7 million) in contributions to date and making Germany the third largest donor to the Fund. Today’s announcement is an important milestone for the coalition of donors, United Nations (UN) agencies and civil society partners working together through Education Cannot Wait, as it ensures the Fund reaches its 2018 target – on its way to a total first funding goal to mobilize US$1.8 billion over the 2018-2021 period.

20 November 2018: State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Martin Jagër, announcing new pledge to Education Cannot Wait  at  the launch of the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report in Berlin, Germany.   
20 November 2018: State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Martin Jagër, announcing new pledge to Education Cannot Wait  at  the launch of the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report in Berlin, Germany. Photo: ECW/ Desgroseilliers

The announcement was made at the launch of UNESCO’s 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report in Berlin, Germany. “Education and training are the keys with which to unlock development. Yet there are still 75 million children and young people caught up in crisis and emergency situations who have no way to get an education. We must act now, with resolution and determination, otherwise they will grow up without any prospects” said Dr. Gerd Müller, the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“My goal is to invest 25 per cent of the development ministry’s budget in education and vocational training. As the next step we are launching a special initiative on training and job creation, setting up new training and jobs partnerships with German and African businesses. At the same time we are strengthening the international education fund for children in emergency situations with an investment of 15 million euros. This money will be used to fund school books in Yemen or to support 60,000 children in Indonesia following the devastating tsunami, so that they can still be taught” said Müller.

Education Cannot Wait has reached more than 800,000 children and youth with quality education – of which 364,000 are girls – in 19 crisis-affected countries since it became operational in early 2017. With continued support from donors, the Fund, hosted by UNICEF, will exceed its target with over 1 million children by the end of 2018.

“This generous pledge further confirms the global role of Germany in showing compassion, generosity and concrete support to those furthest left behind. This funding will accelerate our determined joint efforts to reach 8.9 million children and youth in emergencies and protracted crisis by 2021 and fill the US$8.5 billion funding gap for education in crises” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

“The millions of children and youth silently struggling in crisis who do not have access to quality education today sustain themselves by dreaming of one. This renewed pledge from the government of Germany may be the realization of that dream. It signals a continued commitment to achieve our goals for equitable education for every boy and girl on the planet by 2030 as outlined in the sustainable development goals” she said.

Education Cannot Wait is the first and only global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises countries. In partnership with donors, UN agencies, civil society, national governments and other key actors, the Fund is pioneering a new way of working that establishes education as the point of convergence in the humanitarian-development nexus to rapidly deliver agile, well-coordinated and sustainable quality education through collective efforts for children and youth in war zones, emergency areas and other crisis hot spots.

Education Cannot Wait has invested $134.5 million in 19 crisis-affected countries to date. These include 16 First Emergency Response allocations to countries facing sudden-onset or escalating crises, such as a recently announced programme to support children impacted by the tsunami and earthquakes in Indonesia. Four countries have been targeted by Education Cannot Wait’s two-year Initial Investments Programmes to date. The Fund also recently announced its first seed funding to roll out innovative multi-year programmes in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda, while such mulit-year programmes are also planned in 20 other crisis-affected countries by 2021.

“By catalyzing agile, responsive and jointly planned programmes, education cannot wait ensures taxpayers’ money or strategic donor investments get to the people in need rapidly and sustainably,” Sherif said. “Education Cannot Wait brings all partners together to respond without delay and to remain until every child and young person have benefited from their non-negotiable right to quality education. Refugee, internally displaced or war-affected, both girls and boys, disabled and other-abled, make up the 75 million with a right to education in conflict and disasters. Thanks to Germany’s generous and continued contribution, their right, their dream, may come true.”

Children and youth in fragile and conflict affected countries are 30 per cent less likely to complete primary education and half as likely to complete lower-secondary education than other children. Indeed, conflict widens education inequalities, particularly gender and wealth disparities, derailing global efforts to build a more peaceful world.

“For a little over a $100 a year, a child or an adolescent living and growing up in the abnormal and testing circumstances of conflict and disasters will be able to get the quality education they deserve and need to give them hope, to give them a future,” said Sherif. “Now is the time to invest in these children and youth. Their education cannot wait. If our intention is to make a difference, we need to act today. Because, tomorrow might be too late.”

Contacts for the press:

Education Cannot Wait: Ms. Anouk Desgroseilliers,  +1 917 640-6820

German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development:


Notes to Editors:

Information on the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) Fund is available at:

For more details on ECW’s donors and partners:

German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development:

Download the PDF 

Joint statement on the dire situation of teachers in Yemen

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October 5, 2018 —- The violent conflict in Yemen is severely affecting the education of millions of children throughout the country and takes a heavy toll on teachers.

The war has pushed at least half a million children out of school since 2015, and another 3.7 million are at risk of missing this school year if teachers are not paid.

On World Teachers’ Day with the theme, “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”, Education Cannot Wait, the Global Partnership for Education, UNESCO and UNICEF are calling for the resumption of salary payments for the 145,000 Yemeni teachers, who teach children under dire and life-threatening circumstances.

Further delay in paying teachers will likely lead to the collapse of the education sector and impact millions of children in Yemen making them vulnerable to child labor, recruitment into the fighting, trafficking, abuse and early marriage.

Teachers who have not received regular salaries for two years, can no longer meet their most basic needs and have been forced to seek other ways of income to provide for their families.

The global community must unite to end violence against children in Yemen and protect their right to education.

There is no time to waste. An entire generation of children is facing the loss of their education – and their future.

Without our collective commitment and action, we will fail to meet the 2030 Agenda – Leaving no child and no teacher behind.

Education Cannot Wait, the Global Partnership for Education, UNESCO and UNICEF are committed to continuing our support for equitable, inclusive quality education for all Yemeni children.

Download the full statement in English here 

اضغط هنا لتحميل التصريح الكامل باللغة العربية

Télécharger la déclaration complète  ici


Powerful speech by Gordon Brown on why we must fund education for refugee children

Full speech of Rt Hon Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education & Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group (HLSG) on Action for Refugee Education

In 2016 world leaders agreed to strengthen the international response to the global
refugee crisis and grow support to meet the needs of refugee and host communities.
This included promising “to ensure all refugee children are receiving education within a few months of arrival and to prioritize budgetary provision to facilitate this, including support for host countries”.

The new Global Compact on Refugees sets out a Programme of Action which includes commitments to “expand and enhance the quality and inclusiveness of national education systems to facilitate access by refugee and host community children and youth to primary, secondary and tertiary education”. It also commits to “provide more direct financial support to minimize the time refugee boys and girls spend out of education”.
However, more than half of the world’s refugee children – 3.7 million – remain out of school.
Despite this we believe that progress is possible and that having agreed our aims we must act to deliver them.
The High-Level Meeting on Action for Refugee Education will bring together refugee hosting states, donor governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector and civil society to agree how to accelerate and improve efforts to deliver these commitments.
The Meeting will explore efforts to:
• include refugee populations in national education systems
• improve learning outcomes for refugee and host communities
• and support greater responsibility sharing, especially via more and better financing.

Learn more:


2018-09-joint-statement-12-years-break-barriers-girls-education 2018-09-declaration-conjointe-12-annees-education-fillesJoint-statement-header

Today, more girls are in school globally than ever before; but 132 million are not, particularly those in emergencies and in conflict-affected and fragile states. Millions more drop out before they complete their education, and progress for the most marginalized girls is far too slow. These girls struggle to learn the basics, and are under-represented in secondary education, where they would gain the skills, knowledge and opportunities for a productive and fulfilling life.

Far too many girls continue to face barriers to their education, across the lifecycle from early years, through adolescence and into adulthood, including poverty; sexual and gender-based violence; child, early and forced marriage; early and unwanted pregnancy; and restrictive social norms and expectations. Other barriers rest within the school, related to deep-rooted gender discrimination, unequal power relations, and inadequate facilities. By some estimates, one in ten girls in sub-Saharan Africa miss school during menstruation. Gender-based violence in, around and on the way to school knows no geographical, cultural, social, economic or ethnic boundaries. Inclusive, equitable education, in safe and secure environments, which reaches the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities, remains fundamental to achieving the empowerment and economic equality of girls and women, especially in developing contexts and countries struggling with conflict.

Today we meet to take stock, to reaffirm and issue new policy and financial commitments, and to agree on next steps for joint advocacy and action to achieve results for all girls.

We acknowledge that much progress has been made in 2018 to make concrete commitments to advancing girls’ enjoyment of their human right to education, and a contribution to social development, economic growth, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The G7 Summit in Canada and the Commonwealth Summit in the UK agreed on commitments with a particular focus on supporting adolescent and highly marginalised girls while they confront enduring barriers to their achievement of positive learning outcomes; while the Global Partnership for Education conference in Senegal saw developing countries commit themselves to invest a further $110 billion in education, coupled with $2.3 billion of ODA pledges by donors. Education Cannot Wait, in barely one year, invested close to $100 million in emergency response plans and multi-year resilience programmes in which 50 percent of the beneficiaries are girls and the majority of teachers are female. With 2030 in sight, we must continue the momentum for shared responsibility, global solidarity, and accountability to ensure no girl is left behind.

We together call on girls themselves, their families and communities, governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to join us in our commitment to undertake individual and collective action to dismantle barriers to girls’ education, and to:

  • Increase girls’ access to schools and learning pathways, with a focus on the most marginalized, including those in contexts of emergency, conflict and fragility.
  • Provide opportunity for 12 years of free, safe and quality education that promotes gender equality, builds literacy and numeracy skills, and skills for life and the jobs of the future.

To close existing gaps, we resolve to:

  • Promote gender-responsive education systems, including plans and policies, budgeting, teaching and learning approaches, curriculum and learning materials;
  • Improve coordination between humanitarian assistance and development cooperation, ensuring commitment to gender equality and prioritizing improved access to quality education for girls and women in the early stages of humanitarian response and peacebuilding efforts;
  • Enact and enforce legislation, providing opportunity for 12 years of free basic education, and dismantling barriers to education through wider reform, such as on child, early and forced marriage;
  • Invest in teachers, creating incentives for male and female teachers to provide quality learning opportunities, and expanding professional development in gender-responsive teaching practice;
  • Focus on the hardest to reach girls, including girls in situations of conflict, crisis and fragility, rural girls, and girls with disabilities;
  • Champion schools as safe spaces for learning, free of gender bias, violence and discrimination;
  • Engage communities, parents, boys and men, and girls themselves to challenge the patriarchal beliefs, practices, institutions and structures that drive gender inequality;
  • Monitor progress, and ensure the collection of sex-and age-disaggregated data on a regular basis and its use to redress gender disparities in education and their causes across the lifecycle;
  • Implement integrated and multi-sectoral approaches which empower adolescents to avoid sexual risks and prevent early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections;
  • Prepare girls for jobs of the future, building digital skills and closing gender gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
  • Strengthen international, regional, national, and South-South cooperation to champion girls’ education and make gender equality in and through education a reality.

We commit to galvanizing political will to deliver on the SDG 4 commitments to girls’ education and use upcoming events such as the Global Education 2030 Meeting organized by UNESCO in December 2018 and the SDG High Level Political Forum in July 2019 to take stock of progress in the count down to 2030.

25 September 2018






 Jamais autant de filles n’ont été scolarisées dans le monde. Toutefois, 132 millions de filles ne vont toujours pas à l’école, en particulier dans les États fragiles, en situation d’urgence ou en proie à des conflits. Des millions d’autres filles quittent l’école prématurément, tandis que les progrès enregistrés pour les plus marginalisées d’entre elles sont encore bien trop lents. Pour ces filles, acquérir les compétences fondamentales est un véritable combat. Elles demeurent en outre sous-représentées dans l’enseignement secondaire, où elles pourraient pourtant acquérir les connaissances et les compétences nécessaires pour construire une existence riche et accomplie.

Les filles et les femmes sont encore beaucoup trop nombreuses à rencontrer des obstacles à leur éducation, tout au long de leur vie, de la petite enfance à l’âge adulte, en passant par l’adolescence : pauvreté, violences sexuelles ou liées au genre, mariages d’enfants, précoces ou forcés, grossesses précoces ou non désirées, ainsi que des normes et des attentes sociales trop restrictives. L’institution scolaire elle-même maintient un certain nombre de barrières : discriminations fondées sur le genre, relations de pouvoir inégalitaires et infrastructures inadaptées. Selon certaines estimations, une fille sur dix, en Afrique subsaharienne, manque l’école pendant ses menstruations. Les violences liées au genre à l’intérieur, aux abords ou sur le chemin de l’école ne connaissent pas de frontières géographiques, culturelles, sociales, économiques ou ethniques. Il demeure donc essentiel d’assurer les conditions d’une école inclusive et équitable, d’une éducation dispensée dans un environnement sain et sûr, qui inclut les plus vulnérables, y compris les enfants en situation de handicap. Il s’agit de rendre les filles et les femmes autonomes, y compris sur le plan économique, en particulier dans les pays en développement et en situation de conflits.

Nous sommes aujourd’hui réunis pour prendre la mesure de cette situation, pour affirmer à nouveau notre volonté d’avancer, pour définir de nouvelles mesures et des engagements financiers et pour convenir d’actions communes afin de garantir des résultats pour toutes les filles.

Convenons-en, de nombreux progrès ont été accomplis en 2018. Des engagements concrets ont été pris afin de garantir que les filles puissent jouir pleinement de leur droit à l’éducation, un droit fondamental contribuant au développement social, à la croissance économique et à la réalisation des objectifs de développement durable (ODD). Les Sommets du G-7 au Canada et du Commonwealth au Royaume-Uni ont débouché sur des engagements précis, notamment en faveur des adolescentes et des filles les plus marginalisées, tandis que la Conférence du Partenariat mondial pour l’éducation organisée au Sénégal a vu les pays en développement s’engager à investir 110 milliards de dollars supplémentaires dans l’éducation, auxquels s’ajoutent 2,3 milliards de dollars de la part de donateurs. Education Cannot Wait / Éducation ne peut pas attendre a investi en à peine un an près de 100 millions de dollars dans des plans d’intervention d’urgence et des programmes pluriannuels de résilience dans lesquels 50% des bénéficiaires sont des filles, et la majorité des enseignants des femmes. Dans la perspective de l’échéance de 2030, nous devons entretenir cette dynamique en faveur d’une responsabilité commune, d’une solidarité mondiale et d’un principe de redevabilité, pour faire en sorte qu’aucune fille ne soit laissée de côté.

Ensemble, nous appelons les filles elles-mêmes, ainsi que leurs familles et communautés respectives, les gouvernements, les organisations internationales, la société civile, le secteur privé, tous les acteurs de l’éducation, à s’engager avec nous, et à agir, à titre individuel ou collectif, pour lever les obstacles à l’éducation des filles et pour :


  • améliorer l’accès des filles à l’éducation et aux parcours d’apprentissage, en ciblant les plus marginalisées d’entre elles, notamment celles qui se trouvent dans des situations d’urgence, de conflit ou de vulnérabilité ;
  • assurer 12 années d’un enseignement gratuit, sûr et de qualité, qui s’attache à promouvoir l’égalité de genre et à renforcer les compétences en matière d’écriture, de lecture et de calcul, ainsi que les compétences nécessaires à la vie quotidienne et aux métiers de demain.


Afin de combler les écarts qui existent, nous sommes déterminés à :


  • promouvoir des systèmes éducatifs prenant en compte les questions de genre, notamment en matière de planification, de réglementation, de budget, d’approches et de ressources pédagogiques et de programmes d’enseignement ;
  • améliorer la coordination entre l’aide humanitaire et la coopération pour le développement, en garantissant un engagement de tous les acteurs en faveur de l’égalité de genre, et en faisant de l’accès à une éducation de qualité pour les filles et les femmes une priorité dès les premiers moments de l’intervention humanitaire et les premiers efforts pour instaurer la paix ;
  • promulguer et faire appliquer des lois permettant d’assurer 12 années d’un enseignement de base gratuit et de lever les obstacles à l’éducation, grâce à des réformes plus larges, portant par exemple sur les mariages d’enfants, précoces et forcés ;
  • investir dans les enseignants en mettant en place des mesures incitatives pour que les enseignants, hommes et femmes, puissent bénéficier de conditions d’apprentissage de qualité et soient formés aux pratiques pédagogiques qui intègrent une perspective de genre;
  • se concentrer sur les filles les plus marginalisées, notamment celles qui se trouvent en situation de conflit, de crise ou de vulnérabilité, celles qui vivent en milieu rural et celles qui ont un handicap ;
  • promouvoir les écoles en tant que lieux d’apprentissage sûrs, exempts de préjugés, de violences ou de discriminations liées au genre ;
  • encourager les communautés, les parents, les garçons et les hommes, ainsi que les filles elles-mêmes, à remettre en question les croyances, les pratiques, les institutions et les structures patriarcales qui favorisent les inégalités de genre ;
  • suivre les progrès et assurer la collecte de données réparties par sexe et par âge de manière régulière, et suivre l’utilisation de ces données pour remédier aux inégalités fondées sur le genre dans l’éducation ;


  • adopter des approches intégrées et multisectorielles qui donnent aux adolescentes les moyens d’éviter les risques liés à la sexualité et de prévenir les grossesses précoces et les maladies sexuellement transmissibles ;
  • préparer les filles aux métiers de demain, développer leurs compétences dans le domaine du numérique et combler l’écart entre filles et garçons dans l’enseignement des sciences, de la technologie, de l’ingénierie et des mathématiques ;
  • resserrer la coopération internationale, régionale, nationale et Sud-Sud pour promouvoir l’éducation des filles et faire en sorte que l’égalité de genre dans et par l’éducation devienne une réalité.


Nous sommes déterminés à mobiliser les volontés politiques en vue de la réalisation des engagements de l’ODD 4 en faveur de l’éducation des filles, ainsi qu’à mettre à profit les grandes manifestations à venir, telles que la Réunion mondiale Éducation 2030 organisée par l’UNESCO en décembre 2018 et le Forum politique de haut niveau consacré aux ODD en 2019 pour dresser un bilan des progrès accomplis au regard de l’échéance de 2030.


25 septembre 2018

Download PDF: FRENCH


 ECW provides its largest allocation to date to support quality education for 1.6 million crisis-affected children and youth in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda

20 September 2018, New York – The Education Cannot Wait fund (ECW) is allocating a total of US$35 million as seed funding to support the launch of three ground-breaking multi-year education programmes designed to deliver quality learning opportunities to 1.6 million children and youth affected by conflict and violence.

This is the largest allocation from the ECW Fund since its inception. It comprises $11 million to support the Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host communities in Uganda, $12 million allocated to the Delivering Collective Education Outcomes in Afghanistan programme, and $12 million to support Education for Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities in Bangladesh.

“The launch of these three multi-year programmes marks a turning point in the way the multilateral aid system delivers education in emergencies and protracted crises,” said Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif. “It sets concrete examples of ‘the new way of working’ through cooperation and collaboration between humanitarian and development actors. It is about all coming together, about how global, national and local stakeholders join forces to find solutions to provide quality education and restore hope to millions of children and youth caught up in some of the most difficult circumstances of conflict and displacement.”

ECW is pioneering the new way of working in the education-in-emergencies sector to strengthen the links between relief and development efforts, and deliver rapid and sustainable responses to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4. The Fund provided the impetus and supported the development by in-country partners of the three multi-year programmes, acting as a catalyst to bring together humanitarian and development actors.

“The announcement of ECW’s allocation today is the starting line. In order to deliver on our collective obligation to fulfill the right to education of all children in conflict and crisis, public and private donors must deepen and expand their investment specifically addressing education in humanitarian contexts,” said Sherif. “Valued stakeholders and donors have already indicated their support to these ECW-facilitated programmes, and we are confident additional actors will come forward and contribute.”

The three ECW-facilitated multi-year education programmes aim to provide quality education to refugees, internally displaced, and host community and vulnerable children and youth as follows:

  • In Uganda: The 3.5-year programme calls for contributions of $389 million to reach over 560,000 refugee and host community children and youth, recruit and remunerate more than 9,000 teachers on a yearly basis, train over 12,500 teachers and build close to 3,000 classrooms yearly. The response plan has been developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and UNHCR, and will be managed by consortium facilitated by Save the Children. Other key partners include UN Agencies, bilateral donors, and international and local civil society organizations. To date, $80 million in contributions from the Government and its partners has been identified, including ECW’s seed funding.

In Afghanistan: The 3-year programme calls for contributions of $150 million to reach over 500,000 internally displaced and returnee children and youth as well as vulnerable children in remote areas and host communities. It will create an inclusive teaching and learning environment; improve continuity of education; and create safer and more protective learning environments, with a target of 50 per cent towards girls’ access to quality education. The key partners facilitating the programme under the leadership of the Ministry of Education include UNICEF, Save the Children, UN agencies, bilateral donors, and international and local civil society organizations. To date, $22 million in contributions has been allocated to the programme, including ECW’s seed funding.

  • In Bangladesh: The 2-year framework calls for contributions of $222 million to build on the existing emergency response and reach over 560,000 refugee and host community children and youth and 9,800 teachers in Cox’s Bazar district. It is an extension of the humanitarian response and is therefore aligned with the current Joint Response Plan. Key partners who have participated in the development of this framework include UNHCR, UNESCO, UNICEF, and international and local civil society organizations. To date over $97 million has been allocated towards the framework, including ECW’s seed funding..

This $35 million allocation brings ECW’s investments to a total of $127 million in 17 crisis-affected countries since the Fund became operational eighteen months ago. ECW’s investments are currently reaching 765,000 children and youth in the world’s worst crises, half of whom are girls and adolescent girls. The number of children and youth reached will now scale up significantly.

The full press release is available here.