ECW Funding Announced for Emergency Response In Bangladesh and Nepal

Supporting Rohingya refugee children fleeing violence in Myanmar and children affected by the floods in Nepal

On the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly that took place in New York during the week of 18 September 2017, Education Cannot Wait announced immediate support to Rohingya refugee children fleeing violence in Myanmar and children affected by the recent floods in Nepal through its First Emergency Response funding window.


A $3 million emergency grant has been allocated to respond to the immediate educational needs of Rohingya children who have found refuge in Bangladesh, including US$500,000 donated by Dubai Cares. An estimated quarter of a million Rohingya child refugees are among the 430,000 people that have fled across the border from neighbouring Myanmar into Bangladesh in recent weeks. ECW’s funding will help partners on the ground, coordinated  by the Education Sector Group, to scale up the ongoing response in the southern city of Cox’s Bazar. ECW’s emergency grant will help cover more than 70 percent of the emergency educational needs of these children until the end of 2017.

More: OCHA update on the response to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh coordinated by the Inter-Sector Coordination Group



ECW has allocated $1.5 million to help ensure continuous access to quality learning for the children most affected by the recent flooding in Nepal. Generated by heavy mansoon rains, floods and landslides have impacted 1.7 million people in 75 districts. 460,000 people are displaced. The floods have destroyed 80 schools and damaged a further 710. ECW’s funding will support up to 50 percent of the emergency education response until February 2018, as defined in the joint Nepal Response Plan issued by the UN Resident Coordinator.

More: ReliefWeb update on the joint Nepal Response Plan

Posted 28 September 2017

Investing in our Shared Humanity

Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait- 24 September 2017

World leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York this past week. At the 72nd General Assembly, renewed calls were made for our universal values that laid the foundation for the United Nations. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was at the forefront, such as ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender-equality, and ensuring justice and peace. But how do we get there?

The High-Level event on Financing the Future: Education 2030 may be the answer. It drew renewed and heightened attention to the very foundation of all Sustainable Human Development Goals. “Investing in education is the most cost effective way to drive economic development, improve skills and opportunities for young women and men, and unlock progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, passed the message loud and clear.

Education, or SDG4, which encompasses early childhood, primary and secondary education, is in fact the very foundation for all aspirations of the United Nations. Without education, all else falls away and tears apart. Without education, young adolescent men are more exposed to forcible recruitments that will produce more violent extremism and conflict. Without education girls and young women are exposed to trafficking, early child marriage and repression in all shapes and forms. Besides these tragic consequences of disrupted education, war-torn countries have no professional capacity to rebuild, no skills to pursue economic development, no ability to establish gender-equality, let alone prevent another conflict.

For the 60 million internally displaced and refugee populations living in camps and host-communities in the crisis affected parts of the globe, education represents the very last hope for their societies and for their own future. It is the kind of hope that promises to end a seemingly indefinite state of suffering and disempowerment. Today, 75 million 3 to 18 years old children have their education disrupted by armed conflicts and natural disasters around the globe – from the conflicts in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen to the millions of refugees in Bangladesh, Jordan, Lebanon and Uganda. And these numbers are growing: the number of people affected by natural disasters is projected to increase by 50 per cent by 2030 compared to the 2000-2015 period, while violent conflicts have increased sharply since 2011.

These millions of girls and boys in crisis have one priority above all: educating themselves out of their despair. By graduating from school they also graduate out of poverty and conflict. But if schools are not there, if learning does not take place or if poverty, violence or discrimination keeps them away from school, their last hope is erased from their life. And with that we also lose our collective hope for a peaceful and just world.

We have a moral duty and a legal obligation toward these children: young girls and boys struggling to sustain hope amidst abnormal circumstance of armed conflicts and abject poverty, their dignity permanently at threat. Failure to progress on education for children affected by crises will make achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals impossible: 63 million out of school children live in countries affected by conflict with additional out of school girls and boys affected by natural disasters. Higher out of school rates do not just mean education lost but also lower economic and health outcomes, higher child marriage and lower women’s empowerment. Furthermore, low levels of secondary education among young males are associated with higher levels of social disorder and disturbance while every additional year of education decreases the likelihood that an adolescent boy will be involved in conflict by 20 per cent.

Conversely, how can education contribute to peace? Education for children affected by crises can strengthen resilience and decrease the likelihood of further crises. This is particularly important considering that, currently, half of the countries emerging from violent conflict relapse into conflict within the next five years. Higher education levels, particularly when education supports student participation and the expression of differing opinions, tend to lead to higher civic engagement, understanding of and support for democracy and conflict resolution, participation in civic life, tolerance for people of different races or religions, concern for the environment, gender-equality and adaptation to climate change.

But we need to do education right. Where education inequality doubles, the likelihood of conflict more than doubles, while greater gender equality in education is associated with up to 37 per cent less likelihood of violent conflict. It is not just more education that matters, but also bridging the education gap between children affected by crises and others, different ethnic groups, girls and boys, and between the poor and the rich.

As the director of Education Cannot Wait – a global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crisis established by the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 – I am committed to give voice to the 75 million children in crisis situations that desperately need us. Jointly with government partners, humanitarian and development actors, such GPE, UN agencies, the World Bank, NGOs and civil society, we strengthen political commitment, cooperation, quality, accountability and financing for education in emergencies and crisis.

During the High-Level Event: Financing for the Future: Education 2013 at the United Nations this week, partners reaffirmed their commitment through bold action for the estimated 75 million children in crisis.

The Minister of Development of the Government of Denmark, Ulla Tørnæs, stepped forward and announced an additional $16 million to Education Cannot Wait, along with the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, who announced another $13 million, and the CEO of Dubai Cares, Tariq Al Gurg, who earmarked half a million US$ to the Rohingya children arriving in Bangladesh. These contributions bring much needed resources together with other committed partners of Education Cannot Wait, such as Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Education Cannot Wait is not just about any education. We focus on education that helps the young to learn, to express themselves without fear, to attain their potential and to tap into their resilience for a more peaceful and prosperous future. Education Cannot Wait is not just education for some but education for all, regardless of gender, disability, poverty, minority status or any other driver of disadvantage.

Because their education in emergencies and crisis has waited enough, Education Cannot Wait moves with humanitarian speed, development depth and determination to reach 75 million children and youth. As the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, so aptly states: “Education is the civil rights fight of our times. Young people are at the forefront of it.” Investing in their education means investing in our shared humanity. Theirs – and our own.

A Message from the Fund’s Director

Dear Friends of the Fund,

Firstly, I want to extend my gratitude for the warm welcome I’ve received since joining the fund.

I have been fortunate to meet with many of you during my initial months. Dedicated education colleagues in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan & Uganda, committed donors, heads of UN agencies, dynamic civil society groups and private sector partners – all united by a shared vision to create a world where every child, no matter where they live or what their status, can access their right to education, pursue their potential and rebuild their lives.

I have already witnessed the immense efforts of our partners, who are hard at work delivering education in some of the world’s most complex and dangerous environments.

Our shared mission to bring hope is one which must continue.

Our recent success at G20 and the upcoming UN General Assembly provide an essential springboard for our efforts to elevate education in the mind of the world’s leaders and reach the most vulnerable children with safe, free and quality education. This is a remarkable time for education, and the effect of our powerful advocates, strategic alignments, narrative and innovative solutions are already proving transformative.

ECW combines humanitarian speed and development depth to make quality education a reality for children living in crises.

We measure our success by our results on the ground – in how we make a difference in children’s lives, and thus in the human capital of nations. Beyond our initial fundraising success, the fund is dedicated to generating both public and political commitments; filling gaps in planning, capacity and coordination. We are dedicated to driving education forward – from relief to development; strengthening systems and accountability, to make sure our overall response has lasting impact.

We know there is no solution to the global displacement/humanitarian crises that does not involve education, which empowers the young to engage and rebuild their lives.

Education must be at the heart of conflict prevention, crisis recovery, economic development and in achieving the SDGs – it is the very foundation for materializing these goals, and I know there is no way to deliver on this promise without the full support of this diverse range of partners.

We can only achieve success by optimizing our collective strengths, bringing about a solution that is fast-moving, innovative, field-oriented and multi-year in its response- one that is aligned with the multilateral humanitarian and recovery architecture in emergencies.

It is an exciting, challenging and meaningful mission. We are in this together with 75 million children in the most crisis-affected areas in the world.

Together, we will get there. We are in a race against time, and cannot fail.

Education Cannot Wait.


Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait


Leaders Promises Are More Than Words

Madge Thomas, Deputy Director, Global Policy & Advocacy, Global Citizen

Global Citizen’s education accountability report shows that your commitment to Education in Emergencies is working

Many wonder what happens after the bright lights fade on a Global Citizen event. With millions gathered around the world to participate- all eager for meaningful change- it’s easy to wonder if our efforts can really make a difference.

Where and when does the change we’ve heard promised actually occur?

Global Citizen has been running campaigns on global access to education since 2013 and holding leaders accountable for their promises and commitments to the world’s children that are made on our stage or platform.

In total, global citizens have taken over 1.6 million actions on education over the years, which have translated into 57 commitments and announcements resulting in $2.4 billion in funds committed and nearly 60 million lives impacted in real and lasting ways.

Through your actions and persistence, CEOs and Heads of State – the “big guys” – have heard global citizens’ voices. These are the moments when change happens.

Last year, we ran a series of actions in support of the Education Cannot Wait fund, both ahead of the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit and- later in the year- targeting Denmark, and with the help of Rihanna, France and Canada.

Hopes and expectations were high when Rihanna tweeted at these busy world leaders to support Education Cannot Wait, and all three of these leaders committed funding at the Global Citizen festivals in both New York and Mumbai.

But how do we ensure they stay true to their word?

Accountability Matters

While the excitement surrounding these actions is palpable in the moment, it’s only right we keep asking ‘what happens next?’. What happens when the roar of the crowd fades- when we go back to our offices and heads of state & CEOs leave the stage?

It’s for this reason that Global Citizen has just released its first-ever education accountability report.

This report demonstrates our policy to follow up on all those who commit on-stage and looks at what happens after the festival. The results are in, and they prove the true power of Global Citizens’ coming together and holding world leaders to their promises.

This report shows the progress made against on-stage commitments, alongside evidence supporting announcements on education trends and future promises. It also consolidates the actions and commitments global citizens have taken in support of focused funds and mechanisms such as Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The 243,655 actions of global citizens have already produced real, life-changing results that show just how important these on-stage commitments are:

  • 15 new and reaffirmed commitments to Education Cannot Wait and education in emergencies since 2012- 12 of these are on track
  • 9 pledges worth $113.7 million to Education Cannot Wait
  • 7 have already been actualized resulting in $72.8 million deposited to ECW
  • $100 million more committed from the Global Business Coalition for Education in “financial and relevant in-kind donations.”

Making Progress

There are a few main reasons to why we have had so much success with creating and tracking the progress of these commitments: First, our hardworking partners on the ground, and secondly- the passionate people who have called more citizens to action.

Muzoon Almellehan- a Syrian refugee and UNICEF’s youngest Goodwill Ambassador- spoke onstage at GC’s festival in Hamburg this year to a wrapt audience.

She spoke about how, in a world of escalating crises and extremism, the Education Cannot Wait fund is crucial to support young people and ensure they are equipped with the learning they need to build a brighter future. This incredible young woman carried the voices of Global Citizens everywhere to heads of state, CEOs, and powerful people around the world, calling out the need to immediately pledge support for education in emergencies.

“We are louder together. Let’s continue this work until every child, everywhere can go to school.”  Muzoon Almellehan

Advocacy by Muzoon, Salma Hayek and Queen Rania has helped to show the importance and impact that education can have not only on communities, countries and economies, but also on individuals trying to make a better life for their families anywhere.

This level of accountability and advocacy is also critical for keeping countries on track and motivated, encouraging them to make good on promises made to the world’s conflict and crises-affected children.

At the Global Partnership for Education’s High Level Reception before the festival in Hamburg, Muzoon also spoke to the impact that education has had on her life as a refugee. She acknowledged its central role in giving her the “strength to face challenges and acknowledge…my future.”

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the board of the Global Partnership for Education, responded with a recognition of the need to fund Education Cannot Wait and a call to action. “Muzoon, your courage gives us strength and renews our determination to make a difference. I’m glad that the world will step forward and say we do need Education Cannot Wait to make a real difference for children, like the Syrian children’.

Later during the festival, Demi Lovato and Muzoon appeared together onstage to reiterate the importance of funding Education Cannot Wait and the genuine impact it is having on children in emergencies. “When I was forced to flee my home, education gave me hope to move forward…,” the 19 year old Syrian refugee and activist stated.

The Road Ahead

There is nothing more powerful than hope. And the international community currently has the ability and the power to provide it. Now is the time to speak up and stand up for the right to education for all, especially those in emergencies.

It may seem like the “big guys” on stage are the ones with the power to make change, but in reality, they are listening to you. Now is the time to stand together and tell the Heads of State, CEOs, and all of the other “big guys” that it is time to take responsibility for your promises.

Together, we can work to make sure those same promises are kept, long after each event.


Children on the Move

Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF

Around the world today, there is a growing global ‘movement’ of children and adolescents – but not the kind of movement that generates many ‘likes’ on social media.

It is a movement made up of 50 million children on the move.

More than half of them have been forcibly displaced by conflict. Some are escaping violence and persecution. Others are searching for a way out of crushing poverty or the intensifying impact of climate change. Some have experienced the compounded harm of all of these horrors and hardships.

All are vulnerable: to the dangers of the journey itself, all too often deadly; to smugglers and traffickers who prey on these children for profit; to being detained or deported; to hunger, malnourishment, disease; to discrimination, xenophobia and violence; and to a gaping absence of opportunity.

“In 2015–16 alone, about 300,000 unaccompanied children sought asylum in 80 countries.”

Safe channels

Children and adolescents travelling without their families are the most vulnerable to violence, exploitation and trafficking. In 2015–16 alone, about 300,000 unaccompanied children sought asylum in 80 countries – just a fraction of the total number of child refugees and migrants travelling on their own.

This movement of children on the move will grow unless we do more to confront and overcome the root causes that drive so many from their homes. Most fundamentally, the protracted conflicts that have displaced so many millions of people must be resolved, and the political, economic and environmental forces that disadvantage millions more must be confronted.

But success will not come overnight – and these children need help today.

Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF

Broadly, that means creating safe and legal channels for children to safely migrate and seek refuge, which can help keep them out of the reach of smugglers and traffickers. It means finding alternatives to detention, where they are particularly vulnerable to harm. It means keeping families together and giving children legal status. And it means challenging xenophobia and discrimination and other barriers that prevent them from accessing health and other services.

Some governments are already taking action. Italy recently enacted the first comprehensive law to protect unaccompanied children. The European Union recently adopted new policy guidance to protect migrant and refugee children, including appointing guardians for unaccompanied children and improving data collection to monitor the situation and safety of children on the move.These practical measures provide a model for all countries to protect uprooted children’s lives and also their well-being. But we must also take steps to protect their futures – by investing in their education.

Uprooted children leave behind so much more than their homes: family, friends, treasured toys and the ordinary routines of childhood. All too often, they also leave behind their education – and a better chance to reach their full potential.

Today, only half of primary school-aged refugee children are enrolled in school. Secondary school enrolment of refugee children is less than 25 per cent. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than their non-refugee peers.

Education in emergencies

If the lens widens to include all children affected by conflicts and emergencies, the numbers are commensurately alarming. An estimated 25 million children living in conflict zones are out of school. Many have never seen the inside of a classroom.

Children do not need education even in emergencies; they need education especially in emergencies. Without an education, how will these children gain the knowledge and skills they need to chart their own futures – and to someday build a more peaceful future for their societies? And how can we hope to achieve any of our development goals when we are not providing children with the tools they need to carry progress forward as adults – essential to sustainable development?

“An estimated 25 million children living in conflict zones are out of school. Many have never seen the inside of a classroom.”

And yet, education in emergencies is severely underfunded. Since 2010, less than two per cent of humanitarian funding has been spent on education – a gap of $8.5 billion. As the world comes together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – and to fulfil their promise to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education” for all – we need to fill this gap.

New global funds to secure stable funding for education in emergencies, as do Education Cannot Wait and new funding mechanisms to support it, are a step in the right direction.

For whether a refugee or migrant, a child is a child. And every child has the right to an education. Their future – and our own – depend on it.

This piece appears in ‘G20: Germany – The Hamburg Summit 2017′, a publication produced by the G7/G20 Group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs featuring contributions by Heads of State and other high-level participants in the G20 Summit. Read more.

What You Need to Know: Engaging in Country Allocations for the First Response Window

In April 2017, Education Cannot Wait announced US$20 million investment for seven crises through the First Response Window. This unique mechanism provides early funding support at the onset or escalation of a crisis, in order to reduce the impact of the crisis on education.

The First Response Window has 4 funding modalities:

1. Rapidly injecting funds at the onset of a crisis to meet immediate education needs

2. Matching funds for crises with a coordinated Humanitarian Response or Refugee Plans

3. Funding project proposals that support crises without a coordinated Humanitarian Response Plan

4. Needs assessments to support individual countries

Wherever possible, ECW aims to support catalytic investments and engagement. For example, strengthening advocacy to draw attention to lack of or under-funded education plans, particularly in forgotten crises; bringing a broader range of partners and plans together, and catalyzing longer-term collaboration; and leveraging non-traditional financing.


  • Only organizations pre-accredited by ECW can receive funding through the First Response Window. While ECW develops its pre-accreditation process, partners in the meantime must be UNICEF HACT approved as an interim financial risk management approach.
  • All First Response funds should be spent within one year of crisis onset or escalation (this does not imply all activities need to be completed by then).
  • For each crisis, the Secretariat determines which of 4 modalities will be most appropriate to address the need.

For more information about the First Response Window, please refer to the Education Cannot Wait: Grantee Operating Manual. You can also view the webinar recording, “What is the First Response Window?”

US$20m Allocation & Country Consultations

Funds are being allocated to support educational opportunities for children and youth in seven crisis-affected countries: Peru, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Somalia, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Uganda*

*Countries were selected based on a methodology that assessed recent onset or escalation of crisis, severity of crisis, long-term education needs, levels of funding, and the potential for ECW engagement across the four modalities of the First Response window. The ECW Executive Committee approved the overall methodology and number of countries on 5 April; the seven crises were announced on 21 April, and the ECW Secretariat is now coordinating delivery.

ECW is identifying partners for each crisis, at country level, who are coordinators of emergency education response, to facilitate the process for project selection and funding (which will be different for each modality). ECW is committed to strengthening cooperation between humanitarian and development partners, as well as improving transparency and inclusivity. ECW is therefore keen for a wide, consultative process to determine use of First Response funding for each crisis. Coordinating partners will therefore launch open dialogues amongst all relevant partners in the field to recommend a set of projects to meet the funding envelope. These dialogues will be happening within a short time frame so that urgently needed funds can be distributed as quickly as possible to support the education needs of crisis affected children and youth.

Below are the dialogues that are being organized for each country, along with the contact details of the country focal points, where these have been confirmed. All organisations in the field are invited to participate. This will continue to be updated as more dialogues are planned. Partners are encouraged to share this information widely.

Please note that the first consultation meetings for Ukraine and Somalia will take place Friday, 16 June.

PERU (Modality 1)

An envelope of $250,000 USD has been allocated to Peru through a modality that will provide a quick injection of funds into the flood response in the north, with the objective of strengthening the overall education response.


An envelope of $6,000,000 USD has been allocated to CAR through a modality that will match funds against the education component of the current CAR Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

Education Cluster Meeting, 21 July 2017:

  • Date & Time: Friday, 21 July, 9:00
  • Location:   Ministry of Education -“STP Salle de Conference”, Bangui.
  • For further information, please contact: Iker De Urrutia, Education Cluster Coordinator, CAR. Email:  or phone +236 70009675

MADAGASCAR (Modality 2)

An envelope of $475,000 USD has been allocated to Madagascar through a modality that will match funds against the education component of the current Madagascar Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

  • For more information, contactTracy Sprott, Education Custer Focal Point, Madagascar. Email: or phone: + 261 32 23 426 20

SOMALIA (Modality 2 & 4)

 An envelope of $5,000,000 USD has been allocated to Somalia through a modality that will match funds against the education component of the current Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

Extraordinary Education Cluster Meeting:

  • Date & Time: Friday, 16 June, 9:00-11:00
  • Location: Save the Children Somalia Office, Chalbi Drive, off Isaac Gathanju Road, Lavington, Nairobi.
  • This meeting is open to everyone. An invitation has been sent out through the cluster email list.
  • For more information, contact: Sara Skovgaard, Education Cluster Coordinator, Somalia. Email: or phone:+ 254 (0) 792 745 812 + 252 (0) 612 487 651

UKRAINE (Modality 2)

An envelope of $1,350,000 USD has been allocated to Ukraine through a modality that will match funds against the education component of the current Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

Education Cluster Meetings, June 2017;

Following consultations in Kyiv, Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast, the Education Cluster has submitted its Recommendation Report to the ECW Secretariat. The report outlines the current humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and details how existing HRP projects will meet the current needs and fulfill ECW criteria. The report is available here.

Once the Recommendation Report has been reviewed, the ECW Secretariat will begin negotiating project agreements with eligible partners.


AFGHANISTAN (Modality 3)

An envelope of $3,350,000 USD has been allocated to Afghanistan through a modality that will fund project proposals that support the education response for returnees, IDPs and affected host communities. Projects should align with the 4 strategic priorities of the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan, particularly mitigating acute vulnerability in the medium term; supporting households to cope with prolonged humanitarian needs to prevent a further deterioration in their situation and improving humanitarian conditions in hard-to-access areas.  Projects should equally advance the Afghanistan Education in Emergencies Working Group priorities for crisis-affected children and youth.

UGANDA (Modality 3)

An envelope of $3,350,000 USD has been allocated to Uganda through a modality that will full project proposals that support the education response for refugees, especially South Sudanese refugees and affected host communities. Projects should advance the priorities of the education section of the South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan and align with the Government of Uganda’s Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHoPE) strategy.

Education Stakeholder Meeting, 18 July 2017: A delegation from Education Cannot Wait is travelling to Kampala to meet with education stakeholders and the working group for the First Response Window. Members of the ExComm, staff from the ECW Secretariat and the fund’s Director Ms. Yasmine Sherif will be in attendance. All partners are welcome to join the meeting but please RSVP in advance to

  • Date & Time: Friday, 18 July, 9:30-11:00
  • Location: UNHCR Office, Plot 11/13, Mackenzie Close, Off Mackenzie Vale, Kololo, Kampala
  • To RSVP or for further information, please contact: Mary Hanlon, Associate Education Advisor, UNHCR Representation in Uganda. Email: or phone:+ +256-312-231200 | +256-772-701003

For additional questions, please email

Progress on the Independent Hosting Review of Education Cannot Wait

Work to consider Education Cannot Wait’s long term host will begin in June 2017. The work will last up to 10 weeks and is being funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Education Cannot Wait’s current and short-term host is UNICEF, who initially offered to host the fund for a period of 12-18 months.

The overall purpose and scope of the work will be: 

a) Review and assess the current landscape for potential permanent hosting agencies for ECW

b) Assess potential hosts against assessment criteria and identify relative trade-offs

c) Make final recommendations for the permanent host for ECW, which will go to the High-Level Steering Group

Those interested in the progress of this work (including those interested in potential long-term hosting of ECW) should get in touch with the ECW Secretariat:

The Right to Education Does Not Cease in a Crisis

Education is a must have, not a nice to have. But globally, 75 million school-age children affected by emergencies and protracted crises are in desperate need of educational support. The situation for refugee children, who are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children, is most severe. In fact, only 50 percent of refugee children have access to primary school, only 22 percent have access to secondary school, and just one percent of refugees attend university. As Education Cannot Wait celebrates its one-year anniversary, the need for education remains great.

Since our founding 37 years ago, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has worked to tackle these challenges. Now operating in more than 45 countries globally, we are rooted in the Jesuit commitment to excellence in education and offer education programs for refugees and other forcibly displaced persons both in refugee camps and in non-camp settings.

On May 24, we hosted a panel discussion on “A Crisis Unfolding: Access to Education for Refugees and the Forcibly Displaced.” Partnering with the Global Campaign for Education, JRS welcomed over 50 people to the event at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. Our three-person panel included Dean Brooks, Director of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE); Nina Papadopoulos, Team Lead of Education in Crisis and Conflict for USAID; and Alex Palacios, Chief of Staff for the Global Partnership for Education.

The panelists discussed the greatest challenges that they face in the field. Nina said that no two USAID education programs look the same, highlighting the need for implementation that is flexible, adaptive, and immediate. Studies have demonstrated that the longer children are out of school, the harder it is to get them back in the classroom.

The conversation on challenges also focused on coordinating efforts. Dean stressed coordination as one of the biggest issues for his members at INEE, a global network of UN agencies, NGOs, donors, governments, universities, schools, and affected populations. INEE works to address this problem through community building, facilitating and learning, and providing other resources. Dean called INEE a lifeline for those working in the field, one that he used himself while working in the field for over a decade. The panelists agreed that Education Cannot Wait has played an important role in coordination. Nina said that USAID sees Education Cannot Wait as a wonderful example of partnership and people “rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.”

The audience also learned about the lack of sufficient financing for education in crisis situations. Alex said that less than two percent of funds raised for humanitarian crises goes to education, creating a need that Education Cannot Wait is so crucially filling. He pointed to the recent famine in Yemen as a situation where education must be part of the humanitarian response and immediate action is necessary. Two million children are currently out of school in the country and 30,000 teachers have not been paid in the last year.

The panelists saw education as something that not only has an impact on a personal level, but also on a national level. Nina emphasized that education, if provided equitably, can lead to peace and security. Many of the communities with which USAID partners see the link between education and peacebuilding, and are prioritizing education as one of their primary goals alongside security. The panelists agreed that there is a high demand for certified, credible education in displaced communities. Dean added that access to education must be “quality, relevant, and safe.”

Many of the same challenges posed by our panelists are also outlined in JRS/USA’s latest paper, A Worthy Investment: Access to Education for Sudanese Refugees in Chad.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, estimates that the world currently faces the highest level of displaced persons since World War II. With so many children displaced by crisis, we must provide education quickly and effectively. Education Cannot Wait provides the funding for a timely response. As Dean said best during the panel, “the right to education does not cease during a crisis.”

Article from the Jesuit Refugee Service


Education Cannot Wait hosted its first ever webinar to provide updates and insights on the fund’s unique funding mechanism- the ‘First Response Window’. Over 80 participants joined the discussion where they were introduced to Education Cannot Wait’s roadmap, the principles guiding the fund’s investments and the application process.

In April 2017, Education Cannot Wait announced a US$20 million investment in the First Response Window. Funds were allocated to support educational opportunities for children and youth in seven crisis-affected countries: Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Peru, Uganda, Ukraine and Somalia.

This investment marked the launch of a unique mechanism designed to fund immediate education needs, either at the onset or escalation of a crisis. Funds are disbursed to support partners and their activities on the ground for 12 months and serve as a catalyst for strengthened and improved coordination.

A recording of the webinar is now available for viewing.

If you had any additional questions, please email



Muzoon: ‘Education Cannot Wait for the Children of Chad’

19-year-old Syrian activist Muzoon warns of impact that conflict is having on education during trip to Chad

When Muzoon Almellehan travelled to meet children in Chad last week, she was met with a scenario of which she had an all too recent understanding.

At 14, Muzzon’s entire life was uprooted. Her secondary education was disrupted by conflict. The places where she’d once happily lived and learned came under attack. Fleeing her home in the middle of the night, the only things she packed were her schoolbooks, carried with the hope and expectation that things would get back on track; that normal life, and learning, would resume.

She travelled to Chad last week to highlight the challenges faced by children, and met many whose experiences echoed her own. Displaced, facing an uncertain future and craving the stability and safety of school. “I never imagined that other children around the world could be experiencing the same pain and fear as I did in Syria,” she said, “while at the same time they cling to the same dream – dreaming of a future that only education can allow,” she added.

Muzoon’s work as an education activist was born in Zaatari refugee camp, where she travelled from tent to tent, encouraging families to send their children to school. In Chad, she met with children who were able to continue their education despite the obstacles, and community members who, like her once, are risking it all to get children into school.

Chad’s already fragile education system has been totally destroyed by what is now the fastest growing development crisis in Africa. Education Cannot Wait has responded to this with a US$10 million investment to provide quality education for displaced children and children living in host communities. Only 8% of refugees are enrolled in secondary school and there are nearly three times as many primary-school-age out of-school girls as boys.

The fund is playing a critical role in Chad, allocating funding in areas where grants have not been available. This focus on the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable children, especially girls, is a guiding principle for Education Cannot Wait’s operations.

The fund is also piloting new approaches to build the capacity and accountability of local actors. Existing schools are overcrowded and understaffed with only 30% of teachers properly qualified. ECW is delivering professional and community development training for teachers and education officials to strengthen the community’s ability to respond.

Speaking from Chad, Muzoon sent an urgent message to members of ECW’s High-Level Steering Group. “I feel so lucky to have met the girls in Chad, but I’m sad to see that so many are missing out on school,” she said. “Education Cannot Wait is dedicated to reaching these children but I can count on every single one of you to do more.”


Muzoon’s past experience and those of children living in Chad reflect the stories of 75 million children worldwide whose education has been disrupted by crisis. This battle for every child’s right to learn, no matter where or how they live, is one that Muzoon has personally fought but is now championing for children everywhere.

Education Cannot Wait is championing the collaborative effort needed to reach them and has brought together powerful advocates like Muzoon, political and private sector champions, and a wide range of donors and civil society groups to wage this battle together. Ultimately, ECW is based on the recognition that no one agency or one programme can address this challenge.

As she moves towards completing her final high-school exams, Muzoon is proof that with the right attitude, we can prevent challenging times becoming challenging lifetimes. ECW is dedicated to mobilizing the extraordinary effort needed to give every child the same chapter in their story- a fair chance to learn.