EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT DIRECTOR YASMINE SHERIF JOINS PRINCE HARRY & MEGAN, THE DUKE & DUCHESS OF SUSSEX, ARTISTS, CELEBRITIES AND LEADING ADVOCATES ONSTAGE FOR GLOBAL CITIZEN LIVE ON 25 SEPT!

Tune in live for the September 25 concert to ‘Move the World, One Action at a Time’ with headliners Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo Meek Mill, Shawn Mendes, Cyndi Lauper, Jon Batiste, Lang Lang and more!

23 September 2021, New York – Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif will join artists, celebrities, and leading advocates for positive change onstage for Global Citizen Live, Saturday September 25 on the Great Lawn of New York City’s Central Park.

Tune in live for the concert to “Defend the Planet and Defeat Poverty,” which will be broadcast for 24 hours across six continents. The New York concert begins at 4pm EDT.

Sherif will appear onstage in Central Park to thank donors and to call for expanded funding for ECW to support the millions of crisis-affected children and adolescents worldwide who are being denied their human right to an education.

“To date, ECW – the UN global fund for education in emergencies – has helped over 4.6 million vulnerable girls and boys to access inclusive, quality education in 38 of the world’s toughest humanitarian contexts. ECW’s COVID-19 education in emergency response also helped an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys and 310,000 teachers caught in emergency settings. Yet there is so much more to be done, and we call on public and private donors to urgently provide funding for Education Cannot Wait so we can ensure that no child is left behind,” said Sherif.

Prince Harry and Meghan will join the 24-hour global broadcast event live from the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park, to continue their urgent work with world leaders in the pursuit of global vaccine equity to end the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone, everywhere.

Headliners at Global Citizen Live include Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo Meek Mill and Shawn Mendes, with special guests Alessia Cara, Burna Boy, Cyndi Lauper, Jon Batiste and Lang Lang.

Also appearing as part of the global broadcast event are United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley, Vivek Maru CEO of Namati, Rotary President-elect Jennifer Jones, SDG Champion and Advocate Eddie Ndopu, President of the Ford Foundation Darren Walker, President of the Paris Peace Forum Steering Committee Trisha Shetty, Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., U.N. Next Generation fellow Valeria Colunga, advocate Eunice Akoth and more.

Global Citizens are encouraged to make individual donations to ECW, and call on leaders for expanded support for the Fund.

AFGHANISTAN’S GIRLS NEED OUR UNWAVERING SUPPORT IN EDUCATION

To support the children of Afghanistan and especially the girls – and all vulnerable girls and boys caught in every crisis zone around the world – ECW urgently calls for more public and private sector donor funding support now.

By Yasmine Sherif, ECW Director

View Original on InterPress Service

The Taliban takeover of government in Kabul is just days old, and the eyes of Afghans and the world are cautiously watching and hopeful to see them stand by their word and ensure that girls’ education be promoted and protected.

Twenty years ago, under the Taliban regime which prevailed from 1996 to 2001, schooling for girls was banned, although private home-based classes for girls were allowed in some parts of the country. From 2001 onwards the enrolment of girls and boys in schools saw steady gains in Afghanistan, accompanied by a large intake of female teachers.  Yet, despite improvements over the years, a staggering 3.4 million Afghan children, especially from rural areas, remain out of school, and 60 percent of them are girls.

Many educated and working Afghan women, fearful of the future, have understandably taken what chances they had in trying to leave the country during August. In one case an entire boarding school for girls was evacuated. This must not become the norm. Every Afghan knows that girls’ education – females representing half the population – is essential for Afghanistan to recover from over 40 years of conflict and reunite. Every believing Afghan knows the first sura of the Quran, which says “Read” – and that this applies to both girls and boys – and also knows that knowledge is at the heart of Islam.

There are some grounds to hope that we can preserve progress made in recent years, through a combination of international diplomacy and support, and the apparent understanding of this new Taliban administration, and its possible political maturity, that it needs both legitimacy and goodwill to govern a drought-stricken country heavily dependent on foreign aid with 14 million people short of food. UN officials speak of cautious optimism. An encouraging early sign is resumption of UN humanitarian flights.

For more than a year, education in Afghanistan and elsewhere has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic so it may take time for clarity to emerge over the Taliban’s declarations that education for girls will continue. Of what kind and up to what age are important markers. On 23 August, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen tweeted a video showing girls going to a village school.  The world hopes that this is a signal that the new regime is willing to follow an agreement reached with UNICEF last December.

Under the ‘Helmand Sangin Workplan’, UNICEF secured the agreement of the Taliban to expand community-based education (CBE) classes to “hard-to-reach and conflict zones” in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Faryab. The CBE model, using community buildings – sometimes mosques – would allow around 4,000 classes that would cater for between 100,000 to 140,000 children.

Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises, has worked since 2016 to support communities worldwide – including in Afghanistan – in overcoming obstacles to education for all, especially for girls who are often the first victims of a lack of learning options.

The lack of female teachers in Afghanistan was often cited as a barrier to education for girls, and a focus of ECW’s funding work there, together with UNICEF, Save the Children and local partners, has been to ensure that female teachers make up 60 percent of our programs.

Education is not only a basic human right – it also saves lives, communities, societies and a country. Education plays the crucial role of providing communities with safe places for their children to learn, offering the framework to build sound institutions, stronger economies and more peaceful societies. More educated young people earn better livelihoods and are better able to contribute positively to society.

In marking the UN’s ‘International Day to Protect Education from Attack’ on September 9, ECW is aware that there’s no shortage of examples of the challenges ahead. There is a chronic lack of funding for what should be treated as important leverage to dramatically improve people’s lives in war-torn areas. In less than five years ECW and its partners have reached nearly 5 million children and youth in some of the most challenging crisis settings in over 30 countries; and, over 29 million children through its COVID-19 emergency education response. Yet, millions of other girls and boys are still left behind and need urgent support.

The 2020 UN resolution defending education from attack was presented by Qatar and supported by 62 countries to draw attention to the 75 million school-age minors who don’t have access to education and suffer the effects of prolonged violence. In the UN’s General Assembly words: “Governments have the primary responsibility to provide protection and ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels to all learners, especially those in vulnerable situations.

This past year has provided tragic examples of the impacts of new and old conflicts on education around the world, often further intensified by the global climate crisis and the pandemic.

Already fragile communities in countries such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso and Myanmar have seen their dreams of an education for their children threatened or shattered under the pressure of too many simultaneous threats.

The military coup in Myanmar seven months ago suddenly tore apart plans for much-needed education reforms, while the pandemic had already left students unable to attend classes. The situation is acute in poorer rural areas. Border regions have seen old conflicts flare anew. Schools have been bombed and children are taking classes in the jungle.

Burkina Faso and the whole Central Sahel region are experiencing fast deteriorating crises on multiple fronts. Currently more than 2.6 million children are out of school and in the six most severely affected regions of Burkina Faso, the primary school completion rate is only 29%. Schools lack infrastructure for students displaced by conflict, teaching materials are missing, and water and sanitation are in a critical state. Some classrooms have tripled in size, now holding over a hundred pupils each.

Education is the key to break the vicious cycle of war and division in a country, and to provide the means to confront these challenges in local and global contexts. And it is important to remember that not all such crises make media headlines, or when they do they quickly fade away to make space for the next. One of the latest ECW interventions is funding for 200,000 children in Iraq and neighboring countries.

Education appeals receive less than 2 to 4 percent of humanitarian funding, but it is the resilience in crisis-affected children and their unbending hope to access a quality education that keeps us going and inspires us to take action.

To support the children of Afghanistan and especially the girls – and all vulnerable girls and boys caught in every crisis zone around the world – ECW urgently calls for more public and private sector donor funding support now. Their education cannot wait. Afghanistan cannot wait, nor can any other country torn apart by conflict and disasters. Time has come for the full respect of every human being. Not the least the girls and adolescent girls. Time has come for unity, peace, stability and humanity.

NEW INEE REFERENCE GROUP TO DRIVE REFORMS AND SET GLOBAL STANDARDS FOR EIE DATA

By ECW, FHI 360, INEE, NORRAG, and UIS

Editor’s note: This post is cross-published by ECW, FHI 360, INEE, NORRAG, and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Last week INEE, ECW, and the UIS launched a new Reference Group on education in emergencies (EiE) data aimed at tackling some of the sectoral challenges in EiE data collection, storage, sharing, and use. This new group fulfills part of the 2019 EiE Data Summit Action Agenda by enabling data experts from a range of organisations to collaborate on systemic EiE data issues that exist within and between their organisations.

In 2019 in Geneva, EiE data experts from almost 50 organisations participated in the EiE Data Summit to discuss and agree on ways forward on the following challenge: how, with limited resources and a growing number of crises, the EiE sector could collect more meaningful data and make new and existing data more accessible. More and better data improves coordination, strengthens funding appeals, and informs monitoring and evaluation. Many of the challenges discussed – lack of incentives to share data, lack of standardised indicator definitions and methodologies, exclusion of marginalised groups – were identified as collective action issues that could not be solved by single institutions but instead require collaboration between a range of actors. The Summit’s Action Agenda therefore recommended the creation of an expert group to address some of these core issues.

Since then, the INEE Data and Evidence Collaborative – co-chaired by FHI 360 and NORRAG – consulted a range of actors on how best to constitute this group before inviting ECW and the UIS to co-chair the INEE-convened group for the first year. Leadership from ECW and the UIS brings the best of both emergency and development context expertise to address increasingly prominent nexus issues.

Although there are a broad range of current education data initiatives globally, the consultation phase identified a specific gap in emergency contexts. This group does not intend to duplicate existing work but builds on and connects relevant initiatives within the group. As such, this group will replace a planned sub-group on emergency contexts for UNESCO’s Technical Cooperation Group on the Indicators for SDG 4.

The first meeting of the EiE Data Reference Group was held on December 10th, 2020. The group has been initially formed for one year, at which point it will review progress before agreeing on new chairs and strategic priorities for the subsequent year. The group currently includes representatives from UN agencies, civil society, donors, Ministries of Education, universities, and foundations, and will work to include further representation from diverse national and regional stakeholders. This first session presented a problem analysis and proposed four core domains for the Reference Group to address (see presentation here):

Domain

Intended change

Global data reporting & advocacy

Increased use of EiE data in global advocacy and SDG4 reporting

Data sharing

Increased EiE data accessibility

Data production, analysis, & use

Increased use of EiE data and evidence in policies and programs

Increased availability of relevant, quality and timely EiE data and evidence

Enabling environment

Strengthened environment for the production, sharing and use of quality EiE data and evidence

It is envisioned that the group address these domains through the following illustrative activities:

  1. Strategy development/review: this group would develop and agree on core challenges and develop an overarching Theory of Change (ToC). This would be an INEE-hosted online living document, regularly updated with new evidence and enabling members to engage with the group’s work as well as track progress against key milestones.
  2. Capacity development: this group could advocate for, or produce capacity development tools for, global or national level actors; and/or agree on EiE data competencies.
  3. Resource mobilisation: this group could advocate for resource mobilisation on key issues of EiE data. 
  4. Knowledge sharing/co-create solutions: a key function of the group would be linking the various ongoing EiE data initiatives and ensuring that information is shared and disseminated amongst members and to the broader INEE network.
  5. Norm setting/advocacy: this group could work towards and advocate for key issues related to EiE data e.g. the designation and use of a core list of EiE indicators and better positioning of crisis-related issues in the SDG4.

The Reference Group will meet next in January 2021 to agree on workstreams, identify co-chairs for these workstreams, and create work plans for the rest of the year. The full Reference Group will then meet quarterly to assess progress and ensure work is not siloed. We look forward to sharing updates as the group progresses and encourage you to reach out if you are interested in learning more or joining the group (sonja.anderson@inee.org / cstoff@unicef.org).

Authors’ Note: The views discussed in this piece are the opinion of the authors, and do not necessarily represent any organizations.

About the authors:

Sébastien Hine is an education and international development consultant who has previously worked on education in emergencies for the Global Education Monitoring Report, Save the Children, and the Overseas Development Institute.

Dr. Anne Smiley is Associate Director of Research and Evaluation at FHI 360 and leads the EiE data component of the USAID Middle East Education Research, Training and Support (MEERS) program, which is implemented by Social Impact and FHI 360.

Patrick Montjouridès is Senior Research Associate at NORRAG and a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. He previously worked as Education Program Specialist at the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, Research Officer at UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report and at the Institute for Research in the Sociology and Economics of Education (IREDU) of the University of Burgundy from which he holds an M.A. in Economics Education.

Sonja Anderson is the Evidence Coordinator at INEE where she manages INEE’s various evidence initiatives including the E-Cubed Research Fund, the INEE Data & Evidence Collaborative, and the INEE Learning Agenda consultation process to develop an online interactive EiE Evidence Platform. Sonja holds an M.Ed. from HGSE in International Education Policy.

Dr. Silvia Montoya became the UIS Director in 2015, bringing the Institute extensive experience in a wide range of national and international initiatives to improve the quality, management and use of education statistics, with a specific focus on learning assessments. Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she has taken a leadership role within the international education community by helping to build consensus around the standards, methodologies and indicators needed to measure progress towards Education 2030.

Dr. Christian Stoff is ECW’s Chief, Monitoring, Evaluation and Global Reporting, responsible for results monitoring, global reporting, evaluations as well as partnerships and capacity development initiatives to strengthen EiE data systems, including on financing, holistic learning assessments and EMIS. He previously worked with UNICEF, UNESCAP and NGOs in the areas of Education, Statistics and Social Policy in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, where he also lectured in Micro-Economics and Econometrics for several years.

ECW MHPSS BLOG UPDATE: WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY

ECW is marking World Mental Health Day by re-affirming our commitment that mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) is and will continue to be a vital component of every country investment ECW funds. Without addressing the mental health and wellbeing of girls, boys, adolescents and teachers in crisis contexts the international community falls short on its commitment to provide meaningful and relevant education to the world’s most vulnerable children. ECW and other key partners, including the Inter-Agency network of Education in Emergencies (INEE) and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), are leading the charge in ensuring that mental health is finally given prominent focus in humanitarian and education responses.

To advance this agenda, ECW is proud to announce 3 new MHPSS-related global-level partnerships that have formed in the past 3 months.

COVID-19 presented a challenge to the EiE sector like one we have not seen before.  Immediately at the onset, IASC’s MHPSS Reference Group, co hosted by IFRC’s PS Centre and WHO, rapidly produced MHPSS COVID-19 guidance documents, programmes, trainings and communities of practice to ensure MHPSS was included in the response to school closures. ECW reached out to IACS’s co-chair, IFRC’s PS Centre, in order to join other donors to fund this life-saving work, and is proud to have engaged in a formal partnership in July 2020.

Teacher Wellbeing (TWB) and teachers’ mental health is a topic that has long been neglected. As of August 2020, ECW is funding INEE’s psychosocial support and social emotional learning (PSS/SEL) and Teachers in Crisis Contexts (TICC) Collaboratives to continue their ground-breaking work on TWB and, together with INEE members, create a practical toolkit so education teams can put concrete interventions in place to better support teachers in displacement, conflict and natural disaster contexts.

In order for the ECW Secretariat’s technical team to continue providing country teams evidence-informed guidance and research on best practice approaches to MHPSS in EiE, ECW entered into a Letter of agreement with Columbia University’s Protection and Care (CPC) Learning Network in September 2020. This agreement enables CPC and ECW to collaborate on MHPSS in EiE research to inform the technical support ECW provides to partners in the field.

Along with these new partnerships, the ECW Secretariat has published its first ever MHPSS Technical Guidance Note, to walk grantees through developing MHPSS aspects of FER and MYRP proposals. Along with that, a MHPSS in EiEPC Theory of Change and Indicator Library was also crafted to encourage grantees to use structured, goal-oriented, evidence-informed MHPSS interventions, tailored and targeted to meet the unique MHPSS needs of the most marginalized groups.

Through these new initiatives, and ensuring MHPSS is part and parcel of education– ECW and partners are believe we are helping tap into and unleashing the unlimited potential of girls, boys and adolescents in forced displacement, armed conflict and natural disaster settings.

WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD BACK BETTER THROUGH EDUCATION

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, jeopardizing the education of 1.18 billion learners in 191 countries, some are even more severely affected than others. These are the 75 million children and young people, including 39 million girls, already marginalized by armed conflict, forced displacement and natural disasters – and whose numbers continue to increase.

By Yasmine Sherif, Director, ECW, and Coalition Education

Available in French

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, jeopardizing the education of 1.18 billion learners in 191 countries, some are even more severely affected than others. These are the 75 million children and young people, including 39 million girls, already marginalized by armed conflict, forced displacement and natural disasters – and whose numbers continue to increase.

Beyond endangering the continuity of education, closing schools increases the risk of abuse and exploitation, including child labor, forced marriage and gender-based violence. It is also likely to have serious psychosocial consequences for children, especially the most vulnerable, including girls and the disabled. Today, the future of an entire generation is in question.

Faced with a challenge of such magnitude, only joint mobilization and a coordinated response can make a difference. Education Cannot Wait has therefore responded to the crisis within the framework of the humanitarian appeal of the United Nations and has participated since the beginning of the crisis in the global coordination group for education led by UNESCO. But to succeed, all actors, including governments and civil society organizations, must come together in a spirit of humanity and multilateralism to mobilize the financial resources required to provide a future to 75 million children and youth left behind.

ECW commends the work of Coalition Education, a coalition of French organizations defending the right to education, which recently published a report on French aid to education. This report highlights the central role of education for peace and development, especially in crisis contexts. Quality education is today more than ever the central vector for accelerating development, strengthening the protection of human rights and enabling the current generation to live a life of dignity, productivity and opportunity.

France was one of ECW’s first partners and shares with ECW a strong commitment to education and gender equality. France’s support to education issues in the global South is essential, both in response to COVID-19, but also for strengthening education systems in the longer term. France’s leadership and influence are even more important in contexts of crisis and fragility where education already suffers from a lack of visibility and investment.

Thanks to the support of France, ECW has piloted in partnership with UNESCO and the Lebanese Ministry of Education innovative learning solutions to respond to COVID-19 to improve access to education for vulnerable children, including refugee and displaced girls and boys, in Lebanon. But we must go further. Education, already underfunded in emergency and protracted crisis contexts, risks being further undermined by the COVID-19 crisis, as development and humanitarian funding may decrease due to economic recession. It needs not be like that if we chose to focus on our hope, rather than our fears.

Some regions are also more vulnerable than others. As highlighted by the report published by Coalition education, the Sahel region and more generally sub-Saharan Africa have a very large number of children and young people out of school, and for these children, access to a protective learning environment means hope for a better future. These regions are at the heart of ECW’s investments, with more than 16 million USD already invested in the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger) in 2019, and an additional 15 million USD planned for 2020.

Education Cannot Wait looks to France as a great strategic partner to help the collective efforts to succeed in delivering education to children and youth in Chad, Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, just to mention a few countries in urgent need. More broadly, ECW aims to raise $ 1.8 billion by 2021 to reach 9 million children and youth in crisis-affected countries. Maintaining the right to education is essential to prevent crises, fight poverty, and reduce inequality. It is the foundation for sustainable development. Without education, there will be no foundation.

Provided that we all come together to reach the 75 million children and youth left furthest behind in conflicts and forced displacement – now doubly affected by COVID-19 – it is not impossible to transform their lives and that of the world. In any case, we must make the impossible possible.

AS HOTELS OPEN FOR TOURISTS ON THE GREEK ISLANDS, BOOKS SHOULD OPEN FOR CHILDREN

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many different issues across societies, while further exacerbating disparity and inequity by driving millions of already vulnerable people even further to the margins. Nowhere is this more evident than the Greek Islands where thousands upon thousands of refugee children are forgotten – and downright ignored – by the international community.

Photo © Theirworld

By Justin van Fleet, President, Theirworld & Executive Director, Global Business Coalition for Education

While it may be a different summer than most – with precautions in place to stave off the coronavirus pandemic – Greece is opening up for tourists.  Starting on 15 June, travel restrictions were lifted and tourists were able to begin going to their favorite islands to soak up the sun.  While this is a good thing for the Greek economy, it underscores an even deeper crisis of humanity: disparity and inequity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many different issues across societies, while further exacerbating disparity and inequity by driving millions of already vulnerable people even further to the margins.  Nowhere is this more evident than the Greek Islands where thousands upon thousands of refugee children are forgotten – and downright ignored – by the international community.

Unlike tourists getting ready to visit, over 42,000 refugees did not travel to Greece on chartered flights or ferries.  Instead, they were forced by circumstance to make a dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea, in many cases fleeing violence and risking drowning and death in hope of a better future.  Instead, many have found themselves in what can only be described as a ‘hell on earth’ confined to overcrowded camps in the Greek Aegean islands, their point of entry to Europe.

When I visited the Moria Camp in Greece last year with Theirworld’s Chair, Sarah Brown, Education Cannot Wait’s Director Yasmine Sherif and the People Postcode Lottery Country Director Annemiek Hoogenboom, I was horrified by the conditions. What was intended to be a temporary shelter for 2,500 refugees is now one such ‘hell on earth’ for nearly 20,000 people – the many of them children and unaccompanied minors.  Open sewage, no running water, lack of tents or proper shelters and reports of violence against women and adolescents.  These were just some of the things we heard and saw.

In humanitarian crises, children are the most vulnerable group – and education is often the first institutional victim – further exacerbating their vulnerability.  For the 31,000 refugee children in Greece, and about 10,000 on the Islands where less than 15% have any access to education –this is certainly the case. Creating school spaces for 10,000 children doesn’t require rocket science.  Neither is integrating the additional refugee children on the mainland into the education system. Many countries have done so against far greater odds (e.g. Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, for instance, who have done so with millions (not thousands), of refugees.

With political will and sufficient financing, doing so is a relatively easy and cost-effective process – with many successful examples from around the world having proved this already, offering excellent guidance and lessons to learn from.  Research conducted across regions have proven without doubt that the benefits of doing so far outweigh any possible burden to society. In fact, investing in education is one of the soundest investments with the highest rate of return that any government can make, under virtually any situation.

The right to education – particularly for children in refugee contexts  –  is essential for a young child to develop, thrive and reach their full potential. It is also a humanitarian obligation recognized in the 1951 Refugee Convention, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and is enshrined in the humanitarian priorities stemming from the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

Photo © Theirworld

So why have too many have failed to listen?

The recently appointed European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, has stated that one of his top priorities is to support people in need as quickly as possible, with full respect of the humanitarian principles. And within the EU, there is an opportunity to quickly achieve this objective for vulnerable refugee children. The humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence boil down to the following: protecting and respecting individuals; prioritizing the most urgent cases of distress; making no distinctions based on nationality; and, taking timely action independent from political, economic or other objectives.

And it’s with the spirit of humanitarian principles that the Dutch Postcode Lottery and Theirworld have joined forces for these refugee children.  What I love about Education Cannot Wait is that it brings together diverse partners for a common purpose. In the absence of public funding, Theirworld  –  in partnership with the Dutch Postcode Lottery and Education Cannot Wait – – works alongside UNICEF, UNHCR and local NGOS to help thousands of these children realize their fundamental human right to education. By doing so, they are able to benefit from a sense of normalcy, learning and playing with their friends, and simply having a childhood with all the hope and dreams that come with it.

Our recent Theirworld report highlights a three-point action plan to effectively deliver refugee education in Greece:

  1. Mobilize an immediate €20 million in urgent financial support for 2020–2022, providing a scale up of education over two years.
  2. Cultivate international support for a comprehensive refugee education plan across Greece.
  3. Invest in the region and tackle the refugee problem closer to home.

Once again, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has stepped up to the plate so that existing education centres do not shut down this month. Their new, generous and urgently needed contribution will bridge the divide between in-person and remote learning opportunities, aiming to reach about 20,000 children with formal and distance learning, as well as in non-formal education centres adjusted to COVID-19 measures.  It will prepare education centres with preventative measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 upon reopening.  This will include hygiene and medical items.

Photo © Theirworld

But for this to be a true public-private partnership, it’s time for governments to step and do their part.

It has never been acceptable to hide, ignore or conveniently forget child and youth refugees in need of humanitarian assistance in Europe. We must work together now to provide them with the most basic, but important, humanitarian rights, including their inherent right to education, while the broader politics are sorted out.

Why? It is good for children, who can learn, grow, develop their skills to be prepared as productive members of society.  It is good for Greece, as increased funding will support Greek organizations and teachers, creating more jobs and fostering better relations between host and refugee communities. And it is good for Europe to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe within its borders which can be addressed with the right investment and commitment.

So, while many Europeans and other tourist begin to travel to Greece this week on holidays, let us not only remember to respect the dignity thousands of refugee children on the Islands, let us also take collective action to give them the education support they desperately need.

About the Author

Justin van Fleet is​ the President of the global children’s charity Theirworld and Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition for Education.

Coordinating Education in Crises

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) suite of reports on strengthening coordinated education planning and response among humanitarians, and with development actors. Independently researched and produced by ODI, the reports were commissioned in partnership by the Global Education Cluster (GEC), the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with funding from the Education Cannot Wait global fund for education in emergencies (ECW).

Education is a powerful tool and a source of hope for children and youth affected by humanitarian emergencies, providing knowledge, skills, and competencies for a better future. Yet over 75 million children currently have their education disrupted by humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises – a situation further compounded by the current COVID-19 pandemic. With this in mind, generous support from ECW enabled the GEC, INEE and UNHCR to come together to strengthen joint planning, coordination and response, with the ultimate goal of supporting the education of children and youth living in emergencies and protracted crises contexts.

ODI was commissioned to undertake independent research to develop this evidence base, comprising of an analytical framework, 6 country case studies covering Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Bangladesh, Chad and Syria, and a synthesis report which outlines recommendations for action from key stakeholders and actors across diverse contexts.

Read the full suite of reports here (English only): https://www.odi.org/projects/2954-coordinating-education-crises

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Individual reports can be downloaded at the following links:

NORWEGIAN MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT DAG-INGE ULSTEIN DISCUSSES ECW 2020 PRIORITIES WITH ECW DIRECTOR YASMINE SHERIF

Earlier this year, Norwegian Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein and ECW Director Yasmine Sherif met in Geneva to discuss ECW’s results achieved and our priorities for 2020 and beyond; a great way to kick off the Decade of Action.

Earlier this year, Norwegian Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein and ECW Director Yasmine Sherif met in Geneva to discuss ECW’s results achieved and our priorities for 2020 and beyond; a great way to kick off the Decade of Action.

With a total contribution of US$80.3 million, Norway is ECW’s second largest donor, after the United Kingdom. Norway has also helped generate additional political and financial support for education in emergencies and protracted crises, not only by setting an example (Norway devotes more than 8 per cent of its humanitarian aid funding to education), but also by earnestly advocating for more support to, and engagement with, ECW from other donors and partners.

Indeed, Minister Ulstein has been a staunch supporter of ECW ever since he took office in early 2019, assuming a key role on education in emergencies and protracted crises from the day he became responsible for Norad, Norec and Norfund – and the better part of Norway’s aid portfolio.

For Norway, supporting ECW is not only about trying to reach the foundational Sustainable Development Goal, SDG4 – inclusive, quality education – and by doing so, helping to achieve all the other SDGs as well. Moreover, it is closely linked to Norway’s efforts to meet other humanitarian needs as part of a rights- and resilience-based approach. After all, schooling not only gives children and youth the skills and knowledge they need to rebuild their society once a conflict, natural disaster or crisis is over, it also offers them the crucial protection and a much-needed sense of normalcy they need to survive and cope during abnormal, chaotic and often traumatic situations.

As such, the meeting provided an excellent opportunity to discuss and agree upon ECW’s priorities for 2020 and beyond. By the end of 2019, ECW had reached nearly 2 million children and youth through the different formal and non-formal emergency education programmes it supports. Although almost half of them were girls (49%), ECW aims to further increase its investments in girls’ education to help close the gap in access to education during conflict and crisis. Similarly, ECW wants to ensure a much stronger focus on the identification of and services for children with disabilities.

Moving forward, ECW will continue to increase attention and delivery of education in emergency responses to refugee and IDP contexts. Taking the Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities in Uganda as a model, ECW is committed to facilitating and investing in similar multi-year resilience programmes so that refugee and other forcibly-displaced children and youth – as well as children and youth from affected host communities – have access to quality education.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss how Norway can help generate even greater political and financial support for education in emergencies and protracted crises: in addition to kindly agreeing to host the next meeting of ECW’s Executive Committee in Oslo, Minister Ulstein welcomed the idea of jointly organizing a symposium in Geneva later this year with other strategic partners. Moreover, Minister Ulstein and Ms Sherif discussed the possibility of organising a dedicated EiEPC (Education in Emergencies & Protracted Crises) event in the context of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020.

Photo Gallery
Education Cannot Wait Director, Yasmine Sherif and Norway International Development Minister, Dag Inge Ulstein, mission to Mali.