Sarah Brown speaks with ECW Director about Safe Schools

In the most recent episode of her podcast ‘Better Angels’, Sarah Brown invited Yasmine Sherif to join her in discussing the topic of Safe Schools and the work of ECW in creating safe learning environment for the world’s most vulnerable children and young people.

Yasmine was also joined by Nigerian lawyer Zannah Mustapha, who helped to secure the release of dozens of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, former Theirworld GYA and active campaigner Courage Nyamhunga, and activist and campaigner Sylvia Kayko.

ECW announces $2 million for UNRWA in Gaza

Education Cannot Wait has announced critical First Emergency Response funding for UNRWA’s operations in Gaza in 2018, allocating a total of $2,067,518.

Drawing from ECW’s contingency funds, the announcement comes in response to UNRWA’s dire financial situation at the end of 2017 which is threatening school closures and continuity of education for children and young people living in Gaza.

UNRWA is currently facing a shortfall of $8.85 million for education needs in Gaza (out of a total $16 million shortfall in the UNRWA education sector overall).

With ECW’s contribution, UNRWA can prevent 271, 900 students, or 83% of 6-15 years old Palestinian refugee children, from having their education disrupted in the coming 12 months.

In Gaza, UNRWA provides universal access to basic education to the largest number of students of any education service provider. Student numbers in UNRWA schools in Gaza are continuing to increase year-on-year by around 3.4%  which is primarily driven by rapid rates of population growth in the Gaza Strip. 

While ECW seeks to address the current emergency needs to sustain quality education for the next year, it will further galvanise support and drive concerted efforts to find more sustainable solutions to UNRWA’s continuing funding shortage, working with partners across the board to find collective solutions.

Press Statement: An Estimated 70 Million Children Will Be Trapped in Humanitarian Emergencies in 2018

For Immediate Release 13 December 2017

Global education is receiving less than half of needed funding, holding hostage the futures of millions of children

Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, speaking at the United Nation headquarters in New York said:

New evidence shows that the numbers of children trapped in humanitarian crises have reached an estimated 70 million, are expected to rise further in 2018 and the funding gap will grow, subjecting even more children to oppression and exploitation – forced marriage, child labour, and sexual trafficking – in the absence of opportunity and education.

I am calling today for a doubling of funding for humanitarian aid in education – more resources for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the Education Cannot Wait fund (ECW) – and because there is no way we can deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals without a major shift in education funding, a new International Finance Facility dedicated to raising funds for education.

I have reviewed the data showing that almost 32 million of the estimated 70 million children trapped in humanitarian crises are currently forcibly displaced: 20 million children forced out of their homes within their own country plus more than 11 million refugees exiled from their countries. Child refugee numbers are rising not least because of three countries accounting for nearly half of refugees: Syria (with more than 2.6 million exiled), Afghanistan (more than 1.2 million), and South Sudan (over 900,000).

Of the 70 million children altogether, around 30 million have experienced violence or abuse.  Children in conflict-affected countries are half as likely to complete lower-secondary school. And to take one example, reports show that over one-third of girls displaced from Syria were married before the age 18 – more than a three-fold increase in recent years.

While education has received more funding than ever in 2017 – over $700 million in funding for humanitarian emergencies and for refugees –  the total remains low at just 3%.

Despite these startling trends, only three appeals this year received the full funding amount requested for education with 29 other crises receiving less than half of the funding needed. Today there are nine virtually forgotten education crises where less than 10% of the humanitarian funding for education was made available.  These include the humanitarian appeals for Afghanistan (1.9%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (8%), Ethiopia (5.2%), Republic of Congo (0%), Dominica (7.3%), Madagascar (0%), Peru (9%), Bangladesh (6%) and Cuba (7%).

Most recently, we have appeals for Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees, for the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and urgent needs from South Sudanese refugees flowing into Uganda.

We will start the year with 21 humanitarian response plans, four regional refugee response plans (Burundi, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria) and five additional humanitarian appeals (Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mauritania and Senegal).

But we cannot say these humanitarian challenges have come as a surprise. Nineteen crises have been running for five years or more, and three for nearly 20 years (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Somalia). Yet in the DRC, for example, we reach only 8% of the 760,000 children in need. In Sudan, the humanitarian appeal for education stands at 1 in 10 children being supported. And in Somalia, less than half of education needs are met.

Today I want to show how in 2018 we can implement a promise of humanitarian aid that is comprehensive; based on a holistic assessment of needs and that includes education and in particular the needs of girls – and through education, their protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Before I make general conclusions let me emphasize how the urgent needs we have to address are being tackled:


The response to the plight of Rohingya refugees has scaled up significantly since August, but children’s needs remain neglected.  In August 2017, around 33,000 registered Rohingya refugees lived in two camps officially recognized by the Government of Bangladesh. Today, more than 600,000 people have fled to the country.

But while almost 60% of these refugees are children, we have only met 5% of the education needs – providing opportunity for 1 in 20 children. The Education Cannot Wait Fund has announced a catalytic investment to help get plans in place and target 30,000 refugee children, including 8,000 pre-school children.

Yasmine Sherif of Education Cannot Wait, and Kevin Watkins of Save the Children UK are working together and are in discussions with the government of Bangladesh. Kevin Watkins will visit later this month.  The Final Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by Kofi Annan, requires us to offer equality of treatment to Rohingya children inside Myanmar.


While it is a great achievement that 1 million children affected by the Syria crisis are enrolled in formal or non-formal education programs in the region, we need to cater to all of the 5.4 million Syrians who have been forced to flee their homes. As of earlier this year, there were nearly 1.7 million registered school-age refugee children in five host countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.  Nearly 60% are benefiting from education because of the measures taken by the international community, in partnership with the host countries. Yet 740,000 Syrian refugee children remain out of school in the region.

  • Turkey hosts 850,000refugee children, with approximately 550,000 in school.
  • Lebanon hosts 488,000 with approximately 220,000 benefiting from the “double-shift” school model.

The Inter-Agency Appeal has received about half of the overall $841 million in education funding requested. Unless we can now ensure multi-year, predictable support, the lost generation for Syrian youth will start to look like the lost century for Syrian youth.  Our aim is to ensure donor countries, which have made promises of aid, deliver on this promise.

East Africa 

It is estimated that 1.9 million South Sudanese people are internally displaced and 7.6 million are in need of humanitarian aid. There are now more than 2.1 million South Sudanese refugees, mostly women and children, who have fled to the neighboring countries of Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.

As UN Special Envoy, I have been in touch with the Windle Trust International who has reported that South Sudan has the lowest secondary enrolment rates in the world – just 5% of young people go on to join secondary schools.  Even worse, 5% is an average – for girls and in some states the percentage will be less than half that figure.  A staggering 95% never get the chance to complete their basic education.  Unless there is a concerted and sustained program of collective action, there is no likelihood of significant positive change in the next five years.

By the end of the year Uganda will host almost 1.5 million refugees. Out of these, an estimated one million are fleeing insecurity and violence in South Sudan.  The remaining 500,000 are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. And almost half of all in need are children under 18.

We have been working with Her Excellency Janet Museveni, First Lady of Uganda and Minister of Education on a response.  A report prepared by Save the Children and launched during the Solidarity Summit showed that $132 million is needed to meet the basic education needs of children living in those areas. Education Cannot Wait, the Global Partnership for Education, Save The Children, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and UNHCR have led a joint mission and are working on a collective response.

Palestine Refugees

One organisation stands on the front-line: UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees. Every single day, its 22,000 school principals, teachers and education specialists ensure the right to education of half a million Palestinian boys and girls in preserved areas.

And they do that in Aleppo, Homs or Damascus, in Syria, they do it in Jenin, Hebron and East Jerusalem, they do throughout Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan as well. They run 700 schools, where boys and girls learn Arabic, English, math, science, and engage passionately in a unique Human Rights training.

UNRWA is the single largest provider of education services for refugees across the entire UN system.

But today as they prepare for 2018 needs, they are still short of securing the ones for 2017. UNRWA will require US$ 444 million for 2018 – but it is still struggling to make up the US$ 61 million shortfall for 2017 which puts the continuation of education for 500,000 young people at risk in the region.

Progress and Way Forward

We will do everything to advance GPE’s replenishment effort in February of next year in support of Julia Gillard and Alice Albright’ endeavours.

I would also like to commend UNICEF, under the pioneering leadership for seven years of Anthony Lake, for the priority the organisation has placed on education in emergencies.  This issue is rapidly becoming UNICEF’s single-biggest challenge and priority, comprising over a third (39%) of UNICEF’s $1.1 billion education budget.

I am pleased to announce the Education Cannot Wait fund, under the leadership of Yasmine Sherif, is making significant contributions to improving education in emergency situations.

One year only after ECW’s establishment, 13 countries have been selected to benefit from special funding support. ECW is currently working to promote access to quality education for 3.7 million children – of which 1.6 million are girls – and support 20,000 teachers in Syria, Yemen, Chad, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Peru, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Nepal, Uganda, Somalia and Ukraine. Resilience multi-year programs are also being developed in Uganda and Lebanon.


Editor’s Notes

  • The estimated 70 million children who will be trapped in humanitarian situations in 2018 is a projection from the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, based on UNOCHA’s Global Humanitarian Overview which highlighted 135.7 million people in need. The number of children in emergencies varies.  Approximately 48% of Syrian refugees are under the age of 18 whereas nearly 60% of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children.
  • Data on the financing of 2017 humanitarian appeals can be found at:
  • Data on displacement comes from the UNHCR annual Global Trends study:
  • The Syria data was provided by Theirworld, based on UNCHR data, SETA estimates in Turkey and data from MOHE in Lebanon.
  • For additional citations for data used in this statement, please contact

About Education Cannot Wait

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the first global movement and fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises.  It was established during the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to help reposition education as a priority on the humanitarian agenda, usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground and foster additional funding to ensure that every crisis-affected child and young person is in school and learning. Based on the recognition that continuous access to quality learning is a priority for children and families affected by conflicts, natural disasters and displacement and that no organisation can do it alone, ECW comes as a ground-breaking initiative bringing together public and private partners eager to work together differently and mobilise the funding required to deploy immediate and sustainable programmes tailor-made to the educational needs of these children.

Don’t Challenge the Humanity of 75 Million Children in Conflicts and Disasters

Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait 

On the commemoration of the Human Rights Day on 10 December, let us remember the 75 million children whose humanity is challenged in crisis-affected countries around the globe. These children have a face, an identity and a name. Farida in Afghanistan, Akello in Uganda, Sara in Gaza and Aida in Ethiopia, are among the 75 million young people who dream of an education, but whose dream still lies in waiting enveloped by fear and uncertainty.

Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Farida, Akello, Sara and Aida are among the millions of children who have fled their homes amidst armed conflicts, and whose family-members and friends have been taken away from them by deadly rockets or armed militia. They dream of going to school, of becoming doctors and nurses, teachers and engineers, lawyers and entrepreneurs. Deep beneath their dream to learn, to develop and to change their lives dwells another one: to change the world.

Children and youth suffering brutal wars and massive disasters have their childhood ripped apart. Education helps them stitch their life together. It gives them the tool, to paraphrase Nelson Mandela, to transform their own despair into a powerful force of change. The ripple effects will one day reach the rest of us, positively and productively. Without the tool of quality education in their most formative years, the reverse will fall upon us and this should be no surprise.

Children in conflict affected countries are 30% less likely to to complete primary school, and half as likely to complete lower-secondary school. For those who manage to access schools, quality is at stake and learning problems are enormous, such as overcrowded classrooms, sub-standard teaching, gender-based violence, and military attacks on schools, teachers and students. Over 30 million refugee and internally displaced children around the world endure an average of 10-20 years in displacement. Their lack of quality education prevents them from graduating from their suffering.

On the commemoration of the Human Rights Day, let us remember the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Let us remember why it was created on the heels of World War II: a determined, compassionate and enlightened response to the immense and unspeakable suffering brought upon the world. The Human Rights Declaration of 10 December 1948 was created for Farida, Akello, Sara and Aida, who represent millions of children and young people experiencing the scourge of war, still.

As Mandela also said: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” Enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to education is a basic human right. Without quality education – especially for the millions of young people who suffer armed conflicts in their most formative years – we cannot prevent conflict, restore the rule of law, establish good governance, ensure health care, address climate change and lay the building blocks for productive and peaceful societies. It does not take much research to see the correlation.

Against this background, Education Cannot Wait – a global fund and movement for education in emergencies and protracted crisis – was created at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 for the 75 million children who are struggling to access education through the losses of war and disasters. Because their education cannot wait, we work to reach every child affected by crisis. Together with humanitarian and development partners, UN Member states and host-governments, private sector and civil society, refugees and affected communities, we are determined to translate the right to education in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into reality.

On the commemoration of the Human Rights Day and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2017, nearly 70 years later, let us remember the right to quality education for 75 million children in conflict and crisis. Let us not challenge their humanity and put our own in question.

Original article posted on Huffington Post on 10 December 2017.

Germany joins the ‘Education Cannot Wait’ movement with a €16 Million investment

Germany has announced €16 Million for the Education Cannot Wait fund (ECW), becoming one of the largest donors to the world’s first dedicated fund for education in emergencies.

Expanding on Germany’s commitment to education in crisis and conflict situations, German Development Minister Gerd Müller said, “Education is the key to the development of each person. We must prevent a situation in which generations of children in crisis countries grow up without education, traumatized by violence and without opportunities for a better future. Education creates opportunities and gives people hope – and every child has a right to education.

Renowned for its comprehensive approach in education, Germany’s programs are focused on the provision of quality basic education, higher education and technical and vocational skills. The country has put a spotlight on education for refugees in recent years with a view to preventing a “lost generation”.

‘Education is the cornerstone of development, gender-equality, peace and security. The return on investment is unrivalled in terms of human capital, stability and prosperity for societies affected by conflict and disasters,’ said Ms Yasmine Sherif, the Director of Education Cannot Wait. ‘Germany’s generous support will help us to deliver safe, free and quality learning in some of the most complex environments. No matter what the circumstances – children’s education is a basic human right and simply cannot wait.’

Germany’s decision to invest in ECW was based on the fund’s innovative approaches. ECW’s pooled fund offers clear advantages in terms of catalytic effect, fast disbursement, flexibility, localization and capacity building. The fund is focused on bridging the divide between acute emergency response and longer-term education system strengthening, which Germany and other donors acknowledge as a crucial factor for stabilization and peace-building. Most importantly, by delivering education interventions that go beyond a short-term focus in crisis settings, ECW and its partners lay the foundation for sustainable development out of crisis. Germany is strongly committed to supporting sustainable pathways out of crises and provides support to ECW from a funding line dedicated specifically to programs that aim to bridge the divide between humanitarian and development interventions. By bringing together both humanitarian and development actors, ECW is generating unprecedented levels of coordination, within existing coordination structures. ECW was established to enable those actors and mechanisms to do more of what they currently do well, facilitate collaboration and joint programming, while mobilizing and disbursing additional resources.

“That is why we are working to see to it that children in crisis regions do not only receive food and shelter but also schooling – as quickly as possible. Children must be able to continue their studies, even after they have been displaced”, said Minister Müller.

Global Education Cluster Annual Partners Meeting Takes Place in Brussels

On 9-12 October 2017, 100 education experts from 10 country delegations were gathered in Brussels on the occasion of the Education Cluster Annual Partners Meeting hosted by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO). Education Cannot Wait  (ECW) Director Yasmine Sherif spoke about the organic partnership between ECW and the Education Cluster and took part in a panel on the importance of putting evidence at the core of education in emergencies response.  The event was also a valuable opportunity for ECW to meet and work with the Education Cluster coordination teams involved in ECW-supported programmes in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine and Somalia and other strategic partners attending the meeting.

About the Cluster Approach

Good coordination on the ground between humanitarian actors in times of emergencies is crucial to reach more people in need in a faster, better and more cost-effective manner.

The current humanitarian coordination architecture was set in 1991 through the UN General Assembly resolution 46/182. The same resolution called for the establishment of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), a unique inter-agency forum for coordination of humanitarian assistance, policy development and decision-making involving key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners.

In 2005, a major reform of humanitarian coordination, known as the Humanitarian Reform Agenda, introduced a number of new elements to enhance predictability, accountability and partnership in the international humanitarian coordination system; the Cluster Approach was one of these new elements. Clusters are groups of humanitarian organizations, UN agencies, NGOs, academics and other partners, assembled in 11 areas of humanitarian expertise including education, food security, health, logistics, shelter, protection and emergency telecommunications. They are designated by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and have clear responsibilities for coordination.

About the Education Cluster

The Education Cluster is the only global cluster co-led by a UN agency and an international NGO: UNICEF and Save the Children. It works as an open formal forum for knowledge exchange, coordination and collaboration between UN agencies, NGOs, ministries of education and academics on education in emergencies. Education Clusters have been set up at field level in a large number of countries experiencing humanitarian crises; they act as a crucial network that coordinates education in emergencies work, bringing partners together to ensure priority needs are identified and met. Clusters at the country level are essential for information sharing and knowledge management, advocacy and resource mobilization and provide technical support to organizations implementing education programmes in extremely challenging contexts. At the global level, the work of the Global Education Cluster is focused on providing operational support to country clusters, building response capacity and developing and implementing standards and policies. It also represents the education sector in the global humanitarian arena and other relevant fora.

The Education Cluster Global Partners (ECGP) is a group made up of representatives of humanitarian agencies directly or indirectly involved in the delivery of education services during emergencies or related technical policies and guidance. They meet once a year at a Global Education Cluster Meeting that involves cluster coordinators and partners from the field. The global partners work together throughout the year on a number of areas, in particular field support, strengthening the framework and capacity building, and advocacy.

This year’s Meeting in Brussels

The meeting this year was dedicated to the Humanitarian-Development Nexus, with four panels exploring components of this broader theme.

Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management (DG ECHO), opened the event by reiterating his “positive obsession” for Education in Emergencies, stressing how he has seen firsthand how it can bring hope and courage to people living in crisis. In most contexts, he remarked, humanitarian and development education work is undertaken in parallel, and urged this to be better linked. Within DG ECHO’s portfolio, longer-term action (up to 24 months) for education in emergencies is explicitly encouraged. Mr. Stylianides announced the European Union’s humanitarian budget dedicated to education in emergencies would be increased to 8 percent in 2018.

Tove Wang, CEO, Save the Children Norway, stated that the European Union’s support was an inspiration and saw this as a call to action to increase efforts and ensure country clusters have what they need to deliver coordinated responses. Sikander Khan, Director, Geneva Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF, restated this gratitude, noting how far the system has come to collectively meet the needs of affected people.

Yasmine Sherif reiterated ECW’s commitment to strengthening the Education Cluster as a part of its mission to bring actors together during emergencies and protracted crises and build on existing coordination mechanisms at both global and country levels. She stressed the need to move education from the margins of humanitarian prioritization to the center to meet the priority needs of targeted communities while paving the grounds for other humanitarian and development priorities. She called on colleagues to continue to fight for education as the key sector driving the humanitarian-development nexus, and join forces in that perspective through collective assessment, planning and response.

Watch this video interview where ECW Director Yasmine Sherif explains to Save The Children’s Lizzie Copestake how ECW is building on the Education Cluster’s grassroots positioning and recognized coordination role in the global humanitarian architecture to reach children and empower host countries in the most effective way.

A summary of the main take-aways of the event can be found on the Global Education Cluster website.

Bilateral meetings

The event in Brussels was a valuable opportunity for ECW to meet with officials, agencies and Education Cluster coordinators working in countries supported through ECW’s pooled funds in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine and Somalia. As many of these coordinators have been mandated to coordinate and roll out ECW-funded programmes in those countries, the bilateral meetings in Brussels were a chance to discuss the status, achievements and particular challenges encountered by implementing partners on the ground, as per ECW’s commitment to remain field- and need-driven and continuously adapt to the volatile environment and complex coordination mechanisms that characterize work and educational support in crisis setting. ECW and implementing partners also discussed the possibility of transitioning from one-year programmes financed through ECW’s First Response window to multi-year frameworks made possible through ECW’s Multi-Year Resilience window to address the needs of children and teachers in the longer term, as affected communities and domestic governments work to break out of crisis mode. ECW-facilitated multi-year education programmes shall be led and co-financed by Ministries of Education and designed in close coordination with local civil society organisations, in line with ECW’s commitment to strengthen local education systems and national ownership.

ECW also took the chance to meet with strategic partners, including the Education Cluster team, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) of the European Commission, INEE, NORCAP, Finn Church Aid, GIZ and the Federal Department of Foreign Aid (FDFA) of the Swiss Confederation. Those bilateral meetings were a chance for established partners such as the Education Cluster, INEE and DEVCO to pave the grounds for accelerated collaboration in 2018. With new stakeholders, ECW discussed opportunities to join forces and support the efforts of implementing partners on the ground and ensure continuous access to quality learning for crisis-affected children, while empowering local actors in their efforts to build the foundations for peace, health, gender equality, resilience to shock and sustainable development.

Posted 2 November 2017

Photo: Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait Director & Christos StylianidesEU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management 

ECW’s Director Honored by the UN Association of Sweden

ECW Director and author, Ms. Yasmine Sherif has been awarded this year’s ‘UN Friend’ by the United Nations Association of Sweden, during a ceremony at Stockholm Concert Hall.

The UN Friend’s Award was established in 2005 and goes to a person or organization in Sweden who has worked in support of the United Nations.

Ms. Sherif has dedicated 25 years to humanitarian work in various UN organizations and has been honored with this prestigious award for her years of commitment to humanitarian, peace & security and human rights issues, as well as her efforts to work for reform of the United Nations.

“Yasmine Sherif reminds us that the UN must have a human face and that the organization needs to change to put people’s needs at its heart,” says Aleksander Gabelic, chairman of the UN

The United Nations Association of Sweden statement reads: “This year’s UN friend has worked for the UN for 25 years. She has served in New York and Geneva and has been assigned in a number of countries. Often it has been about giving women and children in war an opportunity to believe in the future. She believes in the UN, but also sees the need for change and tries to draw attention to various opportunities. As part of this, she has written a book about her years serving humanity. This year’s UN friend has devoted much of her life to working for a better world and a better and stronger UN. Thanks to her great commitment, she has achieved a lot.’

Published 20 October 2017

Photograph: UN Association of Sweden’s Secretary General, Ms. Petra Hallebrant  and ECW’s Director, Ms. Yasmine Sherif , 20 October 2017, Stockholm. 

Education Cannot Wait for Refugee Children in Uganda

ECW and its partners conclude successful mission in Kampala to embark on a multi-year Response Plan on Education for Refugee and Host Communities

The Government of Uganda, humanitarian and development actors came together around education for refugees and host-communities for the first time in Kampala last week. As a follow-up to the Uganda Solidarity Summit, and facilitated by Education Cannot Wait in close cooperation with UNHCR, other UN agencies, the World Bank, NGOs and donor partners, a collective agreement was made to develop a comprehensive response plan for the education needs of refugees and host-communities, which is expected to be launched in December 2017. During the workshop led by Education Cannot Wait and its partners, participants agreed to join forces to develop a four-year Response Plan for Refugee and Host Communities in December 2017, under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) led by the Government of Uganda and UNHCR.

Uganda is hosting 1.3 million refugees from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda – the highest numbers of refugees in Africa and the third largest in the world today. Half of them are children. Refugee children are encouraged to study with Ugandan children in regular schools but the national education sector is itself hindered by underlying poverty, lack of teaching capacities, poor infrastructure, overcrowded classes, poor learning outcomes and girls’ limited school enrolment. Uganda’s First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Hon. Janet K. Museveni referred to the ECW-led programme as a “godsend response for refugees in Uganda”. “Education Cannot Wait will help the government better the lives of our migrant brothers, sisters and children through the provision of education”, she said.

Posted on 2 October 2017


A second field mission is ongoing in Uganda to meet with partners

A joint mission led by Education Cannot Wait (ECW), including the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), Save The Children, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)and UNHCR, is currently in Kampala meeting with government officials, the UN Resident Coordinator, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNESCO, WFP, the World Bank, donors, local NGOs and civil society organisations to finalise a comprehensive multi-year Response Plan for Refugee and Host Communities. This plan comes in support of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) led by the Government of Uganda and UNHCR.

This mission follows a preliminary field assessment conducted by ECW and its partners in July and a $3.35 million grant allocated earlier this year. This first ECW grant is supporting a one-year First Emergency Response programme, also funded and managed by UNHCR in partnership with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and other in-country partners. The programme aims to meet the specific educational needs of children living in refugee settlements and their host communities in Uganda with innovative solutions such as accelerated education, double-shifting, adapted infrastructure, as well as refugee teacher training and certification. This mission was the first concrete action taken since the Uganda Solidarity Summit, which had taken place in Kampala the previous month. In a spirit of sustainability, the objective of the second mission is to extend the first-year response provided by ECW and its partners with a comprehensive four-year plan.

Uganda is hosting 1.3 million refugees – the highest numbers of refugees in Africa and the third largest in the world today. Out of these 1.3 million refugees, an estimated one million people are fleeing insecurity and violence in South Sudan and 86 percent are children and women. The remaining 300,000 refugees are coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. The Government is committed to ensure access to quality education to all refugee children, in line with the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants adopted at the UN General Assembly last year. Refugee children can study with Ugandan children in regular schools.

However, the national education sector is itself hindered by underlying poverty, lack of teaching capacities, poor infrastructure, overcrowded classes, poor learning outcomes and a low enrollment of girls at post-primary levels aggravated by gender-based violence and dire hygiene conditions. The areas where refugees have settled are already some of the most disadvantaged parts of the country, which may exacerbate tension between the two communities, making it important for ECW and its partners to adopt a fast and holistic approach that integrates the educational needs of both refugees and their host communities. A report prepared by Save the Children and launched during the Solidarity Summit showed that $132 million is needed to meet the basic education needs of children living in those areas.

In line with ECW’s core principles, joint planning efforts seek to empower the local education sector and fill identified gaps, while building on existing in-country partners, coordination mechanisms and frameworks, including the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), the Refugee and Host Population Empowerment approach (ReHoPe), the Government National Development Plan, the Settlement Transformative Agenda (STA) and Uganda’s SDG targets.

This all-inclusive stakeholder workshop organized by ECW in Kampala this week, in cooperation with DFID and USAID, is the first-of-its-kind meeting bringing together state and non-state humanitarian and development parties involved in Uganda’s education sector. It will accelerate the efforts deployed by all actors on the ground to ensure access to quality learning for children in both refugee and host communities in a rapid, coordinated, effective and sustainable manner.

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As part of the mission, ECW’s Director Ms. Yasmine Sherif and her team met refugee students and teachers, as well as with Ugandan families living in the area, to get a first-hand understanding of their situation, the needs and to ensure that their voice drives all efforts planned in the coming years.

More: Press release issued by the Office of the First Lady and Ministry of Education of Uganda

Photo: ©UNHCR/SouthSudan

Posted 28 September 2017



Putting Education in Emergencies at the Forefront of the Global Humanitarian Agenda

Education in emergencies was at the core of discussions on humanitarian assistance and development at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. At a time when the world is experiencing historic levels of displacement and humanitarian appeals, member states, multilateral institutions, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, heads of UN agencies, NGOs, foundations, business leaders and the world’s most influential education advocates recognised education as the priority of children and families affected by crises and the most effective means of restoring lasting peace, building resilience against shocks and fostering development and prosperity.

Secretary-General António Guterres emphasised the need to ensure continuous access to quality learning for all children in order to build a more peaceful, equal world. He acknowledged the importance of Education Cannot Wait in reaching 75 million children whose education is disrupted because of conflicts and natural disasters.

The significance of this challenge has inspired collective action and collaboration from an unprecedented number of partners. Education Cannot Wait’s supporters responded during the GA by contributing nearly $30 million in additional investments, bringing much needed hope to children and families in crisis and positioning the fund only $1.5 million short of its 2017 funding target of $153 million.

Expanding on their previous commitment, Denmark announced a new commitment of US$16.1 million to ECW. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development pledged US$13.2 million and Dubai Cares donated US$500,000 to back ECW’s planned emergency response for the Rohingya children seeking refuge in Bangladesh.

18 September 2017 | Private Sector Reception co-hosted with Dubai Cares

a. Photo by Kris Connor/Dubai Cares; b. Photo by Kris Connor/Dubai Cares

The week opened with a dedicated gathering of private sector champions in support of Education Cannot Wait, co-hosted with Dubai Cares. Recognising the crucial role the private sector can play in addressing children’s educational needs in crisis-hit countries, the event brought together leadership from the world’s most influential companies and foundations to expand the dialogue from the political arena.

Mr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, delivered powerful opening remarks, “Such a gathering is instrumental in bringing together the best minds from around the world to exchange opinions and ideas, share best practices, highlight challenges and formulate solutions. Businesspeople, leaders, employers, innovators, humanitarians and philanthropists have a critical role to play in tackling this issue and their influence is crucial to the success of the fund.”

Guests also heard from the UN Special Envoy on Global Education Mr. Gordon Brown, ECW’s Director Ms. Yasmine Sherif, the First Lady and Minister of Education of Uganda Hon. Janet Musoveni, UNICEF’s Executive Director Mr. Anthony Lake, UNHCR’s High Commissioner Mr. Filippo Grandi, IRC’s CEO and President Mr. David Miliband and Vice President of Global Programs at Nethope Mr. Frank Schott.

19 September 2017 | Education Cannot Wait High-Level Steering Group Meeting

Photo by ECW.

Chaired by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Mr. Gordon Brown, the High-Level Steering Group agreed to allocate emergency funds to respond to the immediate educational needs of children affected by the floods in Nepal and Rohingya children in Bangladesh displaced by ongoing violence in Myanmar. Dubai Cares announced a contribution of US$500,000 to support ECW’s planned response in Bangladesh.

20 September 2017 | Global Business Coalition for Education Annual Breakfast 

Photo by ECW.

Speaking at the Global Business Coalition for Education event, ‘Class of 2030’, ECW’s Director Ms. Yasmine Sherif highlighted the fund’s eagerness to open up new pipelines for the private sector to support holistic, tailor-made education programmes in crisis-hit countries. Guests were presented with the opportunity to collaborate with ECW and play an active role through funding, fundraising, advocacy and innovations. Welcoming the generous offers of in-kind product donations and pro-bono services, Ms. Sherif also emphasised the importance of alignment with the needs of targeted children and teachers and additional funding to ensure effective implementation and monitoring on the ground through the right partners.

HP announced their commitment to work with ECW on identifying countries where their new cloud technology could be best utilised to deliver quality learning experiences and materials in crisis-affected countries.

20 September 2017 | Financing the Future: Education 2030

UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

This landmark event brought together an unprecedented roster of world leaders to deliver a powerful call to action to close the global education financing gap.  UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, heads of state of France, Norway, Malawi and Senegal and other global education leaders committed to tackling the education crisis holding back millions of children from fulfilling their real potential and building a better future for themselves and their community.

A statement made on behalf of the Minister of Development of the Government of Denmark, Ulla Tørnæs, pledged an additional US$16 million to Education Cannot Wait.

Speaking on behalf of the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Mr. Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Mr. Christos Stylianides reiterated the EU’s status as global leaders in supporting education in emergencies. The EU pledged US$13.2 million to the fund and an increase to 8 per cent of their humanitarian budget for education in emergencies in 2018 – far above the global average currently limited to 3.7 percent. “By supporting education, we are making the biggest investment we can in the future of the most vulnerable. We are investing in peace”, said Commissioner Stylianides.

21 September 2017 | Meeting Youth Ambassadors with TheirWorld

Photo by ECW.

The fund’s Director, Ms. Yasmine Sherif, met with two inspiring Youth Ambassadors from TheirWorld: Sylvia Kakyo from Uganda and Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu from Cameroon. Their extraordinary commitment to improving access to quality education in their own country and their campaigning successes demonstrate the critical and central role for youth in driving the agenda, both locally and globally. You can see the full interview here.

23 September 2017 | Global Citizen Festival 

Photo by Getty Images for Global Citizen.

The annual Global Citizen Festival in Central Park was a chance to celebrate in style US$3.2 billion worth of pledges that were announced by governments and the private sector during the General Assembly. Global Citizens took 1.6 million actions in the two months leading up to the Festival urging leaders to tackle extreme poverty.

The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tørnæs and HP’s Chief Supply Chain Officer Mr. Stuart Pann used the occasion to announce their support to ECW.

The contributions made during the 72nd UN General Assembly bring much needed hope to children and families affected by conflicts and natural disasters. ECW and its movement of supporters come as a direct response to their call for continuous access to quality education as they are on the move or trying to rebuild their lives.

ECW is based on the recognition that no one can do it alone. The high-level discussions that took place in New York throughout the week inspired the political commitment needed to reposition education as a priority in times of crisis, recognizing that the issue is everyone’s business and the key to every child’s future and a safer, more prosperous world.