USAID Funds Education in Northern Mali

USAID Press Release, available in English and French.

20 October, 2021, Bamako, Mali – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided initial funding of $5 million (FCFA 2.75 billion) for the regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu to support education in northern Mali. This aid from the American people is a contribution to the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies, Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

As of August 2021, 1,664 schools were closed in Mali due to conflict and threats of violence affecting 500,000 children and youth. The new funding will support education in northern Mali, where cycles of violence have forced people from their homes, weakened education systems, and kept many boys and girls out of school.

According to US Ambassador to Mali Dennis B. Hankins, “This funding from the American people is part of our larger commitment to supporting Mali’s development and helping to ensure that Malians all across the country, including in the North, benefit from quality education and the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future.  I credit the role of the female members of the Monitoring Committee of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation (Comité de suivi de l’Accord, CSA) as the driving force behind our efforts to increase education programs in the North as part of the return of government services in all of Mali.”

The USAID funds will help children return to learning, build and reopen schools that have closed, provide psycho-social services for girls and boys that have endured the stress of displacement and conflict, and support local organizations and communities in building a stronger education system. This investment aligns with the Government of Mali’s educational and humanitarian response plans and will be implemented by Actions Concertées pour le Soutien à l’Éducation et au Développement Durable (ACFED) which is a consortium of local non-governmental organizations along with Humanity & Inclusion and UNICEF.

“Education is an essential building block for peace and stability in the Sahel. With access to safe, quality learning environments, we can help to break the cycles of poverty, hunger, and conflict. This contribution from USAID will support quality learning opportunities for some of the most vulnerable girls and boys in Mali, helping them to achieve their full potential and become positive changemakers for their communities,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of ECW.

This new funding from the United States government will accelerate the impact of ECW’s three-year program in Mali which was launched in January 2021 as part of a broader response to the regional crisis in the central Sahel. ECW’s Multi-Year Resilience Program provides targeted support for girls, children with disabilities and other marginalized groups, engages with local communities to get children back in school, works to build the resilience of local institutions, and supports efforts to recruit, train and retain quality teachers.

For more information, contact:
Embassy Press Office / ACI 2000 Rue 243 Porte 297 / Bamako, Mali
Tel : 20 70 24 24 /20 70 24 26 / Fax : 20 70 24 79 / Email : PASBamako@state.gov
Embassy: https://ml.usembassy.gov/

ECW DIRECTOR YASMINE SHERIF HEADLINES UN DAY 2021 AT THE UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION COACHELLA VALLEY

21 October 2021, Palm Springs – The United Nations Association of the Coachella Valley is delighted to invite you to our next in a series of speaker events in celebration of the 2021 United Nations Day “A Conversation with Director Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait” on Thursday, October 21 from 5:30-6:45 PM (PT).

Join us a virtual conversation with Yasmine Sherif, the Director of Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for the the delivery of education in emergencies and protracted humanitarian crises. Education Cannot Wait is a new initiative working to transform the delivery of education in emergencies, one that links governments, humanitarian actors and development efforts to deliver a more collaborative and rapid response to the educational needs of children and youth affected by crises.

Over 128 million children and youth are in desperate need of educational support, in danger of, or already missing out on their education. The right to education is most at risk during humanitarian crises, the time when it is needed the most. The Fund aims to accelerate global efforts to reach all the crisis-affected children and youth by 2030.

Yasmine Sherif is a human rights lawyer with 30 years of experience with the United Nations system and civil society. She has served in crisis-affected countries in Africa, Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East. Yasmine has also served at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and Geneva.

She is currently based in New York where UNICEF is hosting the Education Cannot Wait Secretariat. Yasmine has also worked as an Adjunct Professor at Long Island University. She is the author of the book “The Case for Humanity: An Extraordinary Session,” launched at the United Nations in 2015. In 2017, she received the prestigious annual award “Sweden’s UN Friend of the Year” and in 2020 she was awarded the Global Educator Award in the United States.

Yasmine Sherif will highlight the critical role of the United Nations, the only forum bringing the world’s nations together in addressing global challenges and fostering global cooperation, human rights, multilateralism, as well as the background and work of Education Cannot Wait.

Please join us for this exciting opportunity to virtually meet Yasmine Sherif as we observe United Nations Day on the 76th anniversary of the United Nations!

Following Yasmine Sherif’s presentation, stay on the Zoom for a 30-minute Q&A session.

CLICK HERE FOR ZOOM LINK

About UNA Coachella Valley

The United Nations Association Coachella Valley is one of 200 local chapters of UNA-USA. Our mission is to bring awareness and advocacy to issues that are both global in nature and regional issues that impact local communities throughout the United States. Local UNA’s bring attention to issues such as; Environmental Justice, HIV/AIDS, Social Justice, Food Security, and protecting and expanding rights of our Indigenous people, just to name a few.

EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES: NEW HUB INAUGURATED IN GENEVA

Geneva, 7 October 2021 – Today, a shared workspace officially opened at Rue de Varembé 7, hosting staff from Education Cannot Wait (ECW) as well as other members of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies. This is an exciting new venue which enables organisations advancing the delivery of education in emergencies to work together more closely and more collaboratively in the heart of Geneva’s international district.

The new workspace allows ECW staff to work closely with colleagues and partners who share the goal of transforming the delivery of education in emergencies and delivering collaborative and rapid education support to children and young people affected by conflict and crisis. In recent months, ECW has steadily increased its presence and capacity in Geneva, growing from three members of staff to 14, now exceeding the size of its New York team.

ECW is delighted to share the space with the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies, which was launched in January 2021 as a result of a pledge made at the Global Refugee Forum (GRF). The Hub brings together a strong alliance of partners who understand the critical importance of supporting education in emergency contexts. It will now be able to do so from this new office. The added capacity, including meeting rooms and workspaces, will help the Hub support its growing membership, which is now up to 30 from the original 10 co-signatories.

Others who have taken up desks in the same office space include education specialists from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), World Vision International, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – who have relocated some staff from Paris to Geneva in order to take advantage of synergies from this city’s international networks.

At an official ceremony held on 7 October, Swiss Ambassador Félix Baumann, representing the Host State, stressed that the new office is “an open space that welcomes field colleagues during their time in Geneva, bridging local action with global reach, translating into tangible change at country level.”

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Switzerland and the other members to make sure that the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies becomes a resounding success and that it has a real, tangible impact on the children, families and communities whom we serve”, said Yasmine Sherif, Director of ECW.

Visitors were also welcomed by Petra Heusser, the Coordinator of the Geneva Global Hub, and Sarah Epprecht, ICRC’s Deputy Director of Operations. ICRC is an active member of the Hub and one of the original co-signatories.

The opportunity to work closely with other Hub partners is timely for ECW, as it publishes its 2020 annual results report and looks forward to continuing to expand its reach to children and young people affected by conflict and disaster. In 2020, ECW delivered education services across 34 countries, and to date has reached 4.6 million crisis-affected children and young people (48% girls). The proximity to partners in the new shared workspace will offer valuable opportunities for ECW to further increase efficiency by staying connected to other actors and stakeholders in the education in emergencies sector.

About the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies

Humanitarian crises, conflict and displacement deny millions of children and youth their right to education. That is why, at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Global Education Cluster (GEC), the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), Switzerland, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the University of Geneva pledged to promote Geneva as the global hub for education in emergencies, leveraging the Geneva international community by convening actors and creating synergies for joint action so that all crisis-affected and displaced children and youth have their right to education fulfilled, respected and protected.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT APPROVES US$4 MILLION FIRST EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN AFGHANISTAN

New investment will provide 38,000 internally displaced girls and boys – including adolescents – with protective, inclusive and flexible learning opportunities

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6 October 2021, New York – Education Cannot Wait announced today a new US$4 million First Emergency Response grant in Afghanistan.

The new investment responds to the fluid and complex crisis affecting Afghanistan, a sharp increase in internal displacement, and the long-term impacts that decades of conflict have had on Afghanistan’s children and adolescents.

Delivered in coordination with Afghanistan’s Education in Emergencies Working Group, the ECW grant will provide 38,000 internally displaced children and adolescents – with a focus on girls’ education (20,900 girls) – with access to quality, flexible learning opportunities and psychosocial support.

Afghanistan’s Education in Emergencies Working Group estimates that approximately 400,000 school-aged children in Afghanistan have been forcibly displaced since January 2021. Across the country more than 3.7 million girls and boys are out of school, and just 37 per cent of teenage girls can read and write, compared to 66 per cent for adolescent boys.

“Every girl and boy in Afghanistan deserves to realize their inherent human right to a quality education. The rights of girls and adolescent girls are especially important, as well as that of children with disabilities given the widespread challenges and suffering of both groups. Education Cannot Wait and our partners are responding with speed to provide safe and inclusive educational opportunities for an entire generation of Afghan children and youth that risk being left behind within a complex humanitarian crisis. This represents our investment in peace, our investment in girls’ education, and our investment in human dignity and human rights,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

The ECW investment builds on the impact of the Fund’s Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Afghanistan, which had reached close to 120,000 children (58% of whom were girls) by 2020, by expanding access to community-based education for children, promoting continuity in learning, supporting teacher training, improving monitoring systems, and establishing child protection and safeguarding measures.

The First Emergency Response grant provides learning and psychosocial support opportunities for displaced and at-risk girls and boys – including adolescents – through the provision of a variety of flexible and alternative learning programmes offered in community-based temporary learning spaces.

Other activities include the provision of teaching and learning materials; teacher trainings on pedagogy, disability inclusion, and psychosocial support; rehabilitation of gender-sensitive and disability-accessible water and sanitation facilities; light repairs to community learning structures damaged during conflict; and provision of recreational and psychosocial support kits.

EDUCATION IN AN AGE OF DISPLACEMENT

With the number of displaced people on course to double by mid-century, if not sooner, developing their potential is crucial. Extending hope and opportunity to young people at risk of being left behind is a powerful way to advance human rights, promote equality, and foster peace and stability.

By Gordon Brown and Allan Goodman. Article re-posted with permission from Project Syndicate.

5 October 2021, London – The ongoing flood of refugees from Afghanistan – now some 2.6 million strong – is sadly no isolated tragedy. Indeed, if all of today’s 82.4 million refugees and forcibly displaced persons were gathered into a single state it would be the world’s twentieth largest country by population. If current trends continue, and climate change adds substantially to the numbers as the World Bank predicts, the number of refugees and displaced persons by mid-century could exceed the population of Brazil, and nearly that of Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France combined. With sea levels rising, some forecasters suggest that the world’s displaced population – already the largest recorded in human history – could exceed one billion.

Long before we heard anything about a novel coronavirus, the rising number of refugees was being driven by the pathogens of war and ethnic and religious hatred, and by our collective inability to feel others’ pain. Refugee “camps” have become permanent cities, but most refugees are dispersed in hovels, huts, and rented accommodation, where they have been living for almost 20 years on average, with no end in sight.

Tragically, among the millions suffering from this disruption is a lost generation of young people with little access to education and employment. Think of the talent that would be lost, the ability squandered, and the potential untapped if a country’s entire youth population was denied these opportunities.

Among today’s displaced youth are potential leaders – the future Albert Einsteins, Jessye Normans, J.K. Rowlings, and Tim Berners-Lees – with the capabilities and drive to make the world a more prosperous and less dangerous place. But what chance is there for a young person trapped in a besieged town in Syria or Afghanistan to show their genius? Or for a child in the midst of the conflict in Yemen, Chad, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, or Libya, or in the South Sudanese refugee camps on the Ugandan border?

The refugee problem is now so widespread that even in wealthy Europe, thousands of young people in the Moria camp in Greece – until it burned down in 2020 – were receiving no formal education. Two summers ago, three adolescents in Moria – aged 12, 13, and 14 – reached such levels of despair that they attempted suicide.

Yes, hope dies when a refugee boat capsizes, a food convoy can’t reach hungry people, and a hospital has no doctors to treat patients with COVID-19. But hope also dies when a young person cannot prepare for the future and is unable even to dream of a different life. This happens when they are denied the education all young people need to bridge the gap between who they are and what they can become.

There is no single-shot vaccine that will end the exploding refugee crisis. But amid the chaos, efforts are underway to provide life-changing educational opportunities to young people currently living without the advantages of more stable, supportive environments.

For school-age refugee children and youth, new hope dawned in 2016 with the launch of Education Cannot Wait, a United Nations global fund. Since its inception, the initiative has not only reached an estimated 4.6 million children trapped in some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, but it has also acted as the catalyst for aid agencies to help millions more.

For university-age students, the Institute of International Education’s online Platform for Education in Emergencies Response offers pathways to continue formal and informal higher education. These include the University of the People, a tuition-free online university accredited in 2014 that counts 7,000 refugees among its 106,000 students. The university has promised the United Nations that it will enroll 25,000 refugee students by 2030.

We now need to expand the circle of opportunity by providing a similar opportunity at the graduate level for refugee and displaced students. That means building the equivalent of the Fulbright, Churchill, or Marshall programs, which have found and developed individual talent for decades.

Such scholarship programs do much more than that. The Harkness Fellowships have built a collaborative international network of health-policy researchers and practitioners. The Kennedy Scholarships spur closer transatlantic relations between future leaders. The Schwarzman Scholars are forging a network that will foster stronger ties between China and the rest of the world. The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship is equipping young Africans to become visionary leaders who will transform the continent and advance equality, freedom, and human rights. Extending hope and opportunity to young people at risk of being left behind is a powerful way to advance these values, foster peace and stability, and bring about a transformative and durable solution to the refugee crisis.

We know that we can find young potential leaders among the most disadvantaged group of all – the displaced – and give them access to advanced education. An innovative, competitive program would provide refugee and displaced students with fellowships for two full years of graduate study, in any field, within the country where they have found refuge or anywhere in the world. If this initiative can attract the funding it needs to be successful, it will take its place alongside other respected, enduring, and high-impact scholarship programs, and, like them, over time it will take thousands of young people from where they are to what they can become.

GORDON BROWN STATEMENT ON EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ANNUAL RESULTS REPORT LAUNCH

The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown is the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and the Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Steering Group.

2020 will be remembered as a uniquely challenging year.

For the millions of marginalized children and adolescents already caught in armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate-induced disasters and protracted crises, COVID-19 further impacted their lives as a ‘crisis within a crisis.’

An entire generation faces irreversible loss.

In the face of these challenges, Education Cannot Wait quickly stepped in to ensure every child has access to a safe, inclusive learning environment.

ECW’s COVID-19 emergency grants reached over 29 million children and adolescents – including 51% girls – in 32 crisis-affected countries and contexts!

The Fund also increased the number of adolescents it reached with secondary education by 50% and more than doubled the number of children it reached with pre-primary education.

Today, a lot must be done to overcome the hurdles keeping children out of school.

I call on public and private donors to step up their funding so that, together, we become the first generation in history in which each single child goes to school.

Education Cannot Wait has adapted to unprecedented challenges and accomplished so much in the past year. See the full scope of ECW’s impact in our new Annual Results Report!

For additional information and to access the full report:

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT NEW ANNUAL RESULTS REPORT HIGHLIGHTS MULTIPLYING EDUCATION CHALLENGES FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS LIVING IN EMERGENCIES AND CRISIS SETTINGS AMID THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC 

Building on its innovative model that has already reached 4.6 million children & adolescents in the world’s worst humanitarian crises, Education Cannot Wait calls for urgent, bold investments in education in emergency programmes to avoid irreversible loss for entire generations.

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5 October 2021, Geneva/New York – On this World Teachers’ Day, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, announced it has reached more than 4.6 million children and adolescents (48% of whom are girls) with quality education in more than 30 of the worst humanitarian crises around the world.

The Fund’s new Annual Results Report Winning the Human Race,’ stresses the importance of investing in the teaching force to support and promote quality learning outcomes for crisis-affected girls and boys. To date, ECW has recruited or financially supported close to 150,000 teachers (including over 41,000 women) and provided over 2.6 million children and adolescents with individual learning materials in emergency contexts and protracted crises.

ECW’s COVID-19 education in emergency response also helped an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys and 310,000 teachers living in crises and emergency settings. This included support to distance-learning solutions and various integrated messages and products to ensure continuing education and protect the health and wellbeing of children, teachers and their communities through the pandemic.

Despite these achievements, ECW’s report underlines that COVID-19 acted as a risk-multiplier, not only creating new challenges but also amplifying existing risks for the most vulnerable groups, particularly girls and children and adolescents with disabilities.

For millions of marginalized children and adolescents already caught in armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate change-induced disasters and protracted crises, COVID-19 hit as a ‘crisis within an already ongoing crisis’,” said UN Special Envoy for Global Education, The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown. “An entire generation in emergencies and protracted crisis faces irreversible loss. Among them, an estimated 20 million displaced girls, particularly adolescent girls, are at risk. The Annual Results Report 2020 is a living testimony of how we can resist the threats and stand greater chances of winning the human race. World leaders must step up and ensure adequate financing for education dedicated to all girls, children and adolescents support by our collective mission.”

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the importance of education to the fore. Today more than ever, education is the key to unlocking opportunity for the next generation: it kick-starts economic recovery, innovation, and climate action, and provides a safety net and lifeline for children and adolescents living in crisis-affected areas.

At the same time, the pandemic also negatively affected both overseas development assistance (ODA) and humanitarian funding for education. Some donor countries have already started shifting their budgets away from aid to domestic priorities. Meanwhile funding requirements for education in humanitarian appeals have significantly increased – from $1 billion in 2019 to $1.4 billion in 2020 – further widening the funding gap for the sector.

“COVID-19 has compounded the effects of armed conflict, instability, climate-related disasters and forced displacement from Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, to the Sahel, Ethiopia and Venezuela – to name but a few of the crises where ECW is working with partners to fulfill the right of every girl and boy to a safe, quality education,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “We can win the human race provided that we are ready to invest in it and ensure that these children and adolescents access an inclusive 12 years of quality education. This is an investment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, an investment in peace, an investment in our future, and an investment in our universal human rights and our shared humanity.”

Key Trends

While nearly all children worldwide have been affected by school closures due to COVID-19, those living in the poorest countries have been disproportionately so, according to the report. Since March 2020, schools in crisis-affected countries – where ECW prioritizes its investments to ensure that no child is left behind – have closed for an average of 32 days more than in other countries. Students in South Sudan, for example, lost 16% of their schooling over a lifetime, compared to 3% for students in countries of Europe and Central Asia.

The ECW report shows that this learning loss will only aggravate the pre-pandemic rate of learning inequalities, particularly affecting the 53% of children in low- and middle-income countries who, by the age of 10, cannot read or understand a simple text.

Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, the report also underscores multiplying risks for crisis-impacted children and adolescents.

The global climate crisis is having a significant impact on the well-being and educational opportunities of children and adolescents, with weather-related hazards such as storms and floods, displacing over 30 million people in 2020. With scientific consensus that extreme weather events will increase in severity and frequency, even more children will be put at risk.

In times of disaster, children usually account for almost half of those affected. Globally, more than a half-billion children live in areas with an extremely high flood rate and 160 million live in high or extremely high drought severity zones.

Forced displacement of people, including children, due to conflicts increased significantly in 2020, with ten countries producing three-quarters of the world’s refugees. In addition, there were 40.5 million new internal displacements in 2020 – connected in part to conflict, climate change, poverty and insecurity – the highest number on record.

Schools continue to be targeted in attacks. Between 2017 and 2019, there were more than 11,000 reported attacks on schools, universities, students and education personnel.

A call to action

Since its inception in 2016, ECW has mobilized US$828.3 million through the ECW Trust Fund, and helped leverage with its partners US$1 billion worth of programmes aligned with ECW’s Multi-Year Resilience Programmes in 10 countries.

“Working together with our partners, the scope of our collective achievements is unequivocal: less than 5 years into existence, ECW has demonstrated its proof of concept through concrete results. I call on world leaders, the private sector and our global community to urgently and generously support Education Cannot Wait in reaching the millions of children that are at risk of falling through the cracks,” said Sherif.

#ECWResults

  • Total reach: ECW’s investments in holistic education programmes for crisis-affected girls and boys have reached 4.6 million children and adolescents (48% of whom are girls), with a focus on those left furthest behind: refugees (38%), internally displaced children (16.4%), and of host community children and adolescents and other vulnerable populations (45.6%). In addition, shorter and more targeted COVID-19 interventions aimed at continuing education and keeping children and adolescents safe from the pandemic reached a total of 29.2 million girls and boys in 2020 alone.
  • Increased access to education: 96% of ECW-supported programmes increased access to education for crisis-affected children and adolescents. In Uganda, for example, the gross enrolment ratio of refugee children grew steadily from 72% in 2017 to 79% in 2020.
  • Strengthening equity and gender equality. 94% of ECW-supported programmes show improvement in gender parity in access to education. Girls represent 48% of all children reached through ECW’s investments since inception, and 40% of teachers recruited or financially supported through ECW’s funding in 2020 are women. The percentage of children with disabilities reached grew from 0.2% since inception to 1.3% in 2020 across ECW’s programme portfolio.
  • Increased continuity and sustainability of education: By the end of 2020, ECW had cumulatively reached some 275,000 children (51% girls) with early-childhood or pre-primary education interventions since its inception. The share of children reached with secondary education across ECW’s programme portfolio increased from 9% in 2019 to 13% in 2020.
  • Improved learning and skills: Since ECW’s inception nearly 70,000 teachers (48% female) have been trained through regular non-COVID-19 programming. A total of 2.6 million teaching and learning materials were provided to children and adolescents (47% to girls). Learning outcome measurement has also expanded to an increasing number of ECW grants.
  • Safe and protective learning environment: In 2020, ECW’s partners increased access to water and sanitation facilities in 2,225 learning spaces and provided some 3,100 children with safe transportation mechanisms to and from school. In 2020 remote mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) interventions for children, teachers, and caregivers were undertaken, and more than 19,500 teachers (54% female) were trained on MHPSS. ECW investments supported children with school feeding programmes in Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sahel region.

For additional information and to access the full report:

Education Must Come First

Article re-posted with permission from Project Syndicate.
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| Spanish

Disruptions to education resulting from COVID-19, violent conflict, and climate change are leaving crisis-affected girls and boys ever-further behind. It is hard to imagine a better investment than keeping these children in school.

NEW YORK – COVID-19 is pushing the world to the brink. The pandemic has killed more than 4.7 million people, caused global GDP to decline by 4.6% in 2020, and pushed 119-124 million more people into extreme poverty. Today, nearly one in three people globally do not have enough food to eat, while conflicts and climate-change-induced natural disasters are forcing families from their homes. And the resulting school disruptions are leaving crisis-affected children ever-further behind.

When world leaders launched Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations’ global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, 75 million children and youth globally were being denied their right to an education as a result of conflict, displacement, and natural disaster.

Fast forward to the present. As COVID-19 continues to ravage the world’s least-developed countries, and with other crises on the rise, the number of children who are out of school has increased to an estimated 128 million. This is a rough estimate that will likely increase as the world’s multiplying crises deepen, and it is already more than the population of Japan, or the populations of France and Italy combined. At the same time, two in three students globally are still affected by school closures. Many of them, particularly girls, may never return to full-time education, raising the risk of a surge in child marriage and child labor.

Education is the foundation for peace, stability, economic prosperity, and social progress. With the pandemic, climate change, and geopolitical shifts placing the world at an inflection point that will define the trajectory of human development for generations to come, we must move urgently to make education a top priority.

At this year’s UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked leaders to rethink how we allocate resources and respond to global challenges as we race to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. It is hard to imagine a better investment than education.

For starters, investing in education for all – including crisis-affected children – could contribute significantly to long-term economic growth. Studies indicate that each additional year of learning can raise incomes by 8-10%. Likewise, the World Bank estimates that enabling every girl to complete 12 years of education could generate an additional $15-30 trillion in lifetime productivity and earnings.

Research also shows that violent conflict drops by up to 37% when girls and boys have equal access to education. And closing gender gaps in education can contribute to curbing climate change and hunger, and to fostering respect for human rights. A generation of women professionals and leaders could be empowered to break cycles of poverty, violence, displacement, and hunger. In fact, the economic gains from expanding girls’ education alone could far outweigh the financial costs of the necessary investments, yielding benefits lasting for generations.

For businesses, this economic windfall promises to create new markets, promote stability in regions where there is now chaos, and strengthen the long-term viability of investments. Entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America will gain pathways to establish a new generation of enterprises.

For governments, the promise of faster economic growth means more revenue. And more resources will enable policymakers to respond more strongly to the climate crisis, bolster environmental protection, build roads and productive infrastructure, and provide basic health care, education, and social services.

But children caught in conflict zones and on the brink of starvation will reap the greatest benefits. For them, quality education means safe spaces to learn, mental-health services, school-based nutrition programs, and access to water and sanitation. Just $220 annually can provide a child living in a crisis setting with a holistic quality education, whereas internal displacement costs the global economy over $20 billion a year, or about $390 per displaced person.

While some progress has been made, more needs to be done now. At a recent global roundtable co-organized by the United Kingdom, Canada, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and Education Cannot Wait, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, highlighted World Bank estimates indicating that meeting the educational needs of refugee children alone will cost over $4.8 billion per year.

We must catalyze the investments needed to fill this gap. Specifically, public donors, the private sector, and key stakeholders such as philanthropic foundations, high-net-worth individuals, and local governments must urgently mobilize hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding for Education Cannot Wait.

As we rethink humanitarian and development interventions in the twenty-first century, education must be central to our response to the multiplying disruptions associated with COVID-19, violent conflict, and climate change. We must take bold action now. For the millions of children whose future is threatened by today’s crises, education cannot wait.

CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS APPLAUD U.S. FOR $37 MILLION CONTRIBUTION TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT

View the statement on the Global Campaign for Education.

Washington, D.C., September 29, 2021 – As organizations committed to ensuring that all children and adolescents affected by crisis and conflict achieve an education, we applaud the U.S. Government for its September 27, 2021, announcement of $37 million in funding to Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

Delivered through USAID and the U.S. Department of State, this funding will support ECW’s global education work and includes dedicated support to build resilient education systems in conflict-affected communities in northern Mali. It demonstrates the leadership role the U.S. has taken in providing education in crisis and conflict settings and its long-standing support to ECW, the only global fund for education in emergencies.

The U.S. joined Germany, the European Union/European Commission, The LEGO Foundation, France, Switzerland, and Porticus in announcing a total of $138.1 million in new contributions to ECW on the sidelines of this year’s United Nations General Assembly. In a statement released by ECW, USAID Administrator Samantha Power noted that, “Education Cannot Wait is an educational lifeline in dozens of crisis-affected countries globally. We look forward to continued cooperation to increase access to education, improved learning outcomes, and to reach the most marginalized students.”

Continued support for ECW during these challenging times is imperative. The U.S. Government has been a key ECW partner since its inception in 2016 and we are encouraged to see this support remain strong as we confront the long-term educational impacts of COVID-19, record levels of forced displacement, and an increase in natural disasters.

“It is crucial to increase funding for inclusive education and early childhood support to prevent lost generations of learners and help young people reach their potential – especially in emergency settings and for girls, children and youth with disabilities, and all traditionally marginalized groups. GCE-US applauds the U.S. Government’s commitment to ECW, and the funding could not come at a better time,” said Jennifer Rigg, Executive Director, Global Campaign for Education-US.

“Refugees and other forcibly displaced persons are facing unprecedented challenges, including limited and disrupted access to education,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “By focusing on the educational needs of students affected by displacement, ECW is filling a vacuum and creating opportunities for students and teachers in conflict settings and countries in crisis around the world that otherwise wouldn’t exist.”

“These funds will be helpful to reach the most crisis-affected and unreached children and adolescents,” said Bhim Bahadur BK, Director, PDRC International.

“As a partner with ECW in places like Mali, Niger, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe as well as a member of its Executive Committee, I can testify firsthand how critical these resources are and the value-for-money that ECW interventions represent,” said Marco Grazia, Global Director for Child Protection & Education in Emergencies, World Vision International. “This much-welcomed and much-needed U.S. contribution will significantly contribute to ensuring the right to quality education for the most marginalized children in crisis and conflict contexts.”

The new $37 million contribution complements $38 million in U.S. contributions since 2016 for a total of more than $75 million, nearly doubling U.S. government support. With robust leadership from Congressional champions, the U.S. Congress included $25 million in funding for ECW in the final FY20 and FY21 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bills as well as the FY22 House-passed bill.

These funds will help accelerate the impact of ECW’s education in emergencies investments, which have already reached more than 4.6 million crisis-affected children and adolescents. ECW’s COVID-19 response has reached an additional 29.2 million vulnerable girls and boys in 32 countries.

For more information, please contact Giulia McPherson, Director of Advocacy & Operations, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Chair, Education in Emergencies Working Group, Global Campaign for Education-US, at giulia.mcpherson@jrsusa.org or 202-629-5942.

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