Be Unapologetically Impatient

Director's Corner
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Yasmine in Afghanistan

Patience is a virtue. However, it is definitely not a virtue in the face of human suffering.

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, one must ask: how long can adolescent girls wait to return to secondary school? The Afghan people have suffered poverty, wars, climate-induced disasters and forced displacement for four decades; this is now exacerbated by a full-on attack on girls’ right to education.

As we continue to witness grave violations against children in protracted crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, State of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, the Sahel and beyond, attacks on children and their rights seem never-ending. How much longer can they wait until they can enjoy a safe learning environment, develop to their full potential and learn the skills needed for their future?

How long can we wait to achieve the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948? How long until we deliver on our promise for every child’s inherent human right to education and on the Sustainable Development Goals with its fast-approaching 2030 deadline?

Crises and forced displacement are growing at record speed, all while the interconnections to poverty, terrorism, violations of international law and climate change are multiplying around the globe. According to ACAPS, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan are all experiencing “very high-severity crises.”

One of the most severe is the complex crisis that has persisted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for several decades. Schools are being attacked, girls and boys are severely abused, dying and losing their homes and loved ones, and an estimated 3.5 million primary-age children are out of school.

The crisis for the Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank has gone on for generations. And while it has one of the highest primary school attendance rates in the Middle East and North Africa region, children still lack a safe learning environment, limiting their learning potential. Elsewhere in the region, the crises in Syria and Yemen have displaced millions of children from their homes and disrupted the educational trajectories of an entire generation.

The number of children and youth whose education has been disrupted in crises has sky-rocketed – from an estimated 75 million to 222 million – in just a few years. How long can they wait? Have we waited too long? Did we assume that being apologetically patient is a virtue?

For strategic government donors, the powerful private sector, philanthropic foundations and the world’s high-net-worth individuals, we must all be uncompromisingly impatient and invest now in the #222MillionDreams✨📚 of these 222 million children and adolescents.

ECW’s donors and strategic partners have already stepped up in a major way. By the start of this year, we had mobilized $1.1 billion in resources. This is thanks to the tireless advocacy, vision and humanity of global advocates, strategic donors and private sector partners. Thanks to their action, ECW has been able to empower in-country governments, United Nations agencies and civil society partners with financing to work together in a collaborative and coordinated fashion, delivering an inclusive quality education. Together, we have all moved with an unprecedented speed and agility in over 44 of the world’s most complex crises.

As we look forward to September’s UN General Assembly and the Transforming Education Summit – as well as to ECW’s High-Level Financing Conference in February 2023 – we turn to world leaders, government donors, the private sector and high-net-worth individuals to become unapologetically impatient and take action now for the 222 million crisis-affected girls and boys who urgently need to access a quality education.  

May the day come when we no longer need to ask ourselves: “How long can they wait?” We must cease apologizing to them. We must “impatiently” show them that their education cannot wait and that their dreams can come true.

Yasmine Sherif  
Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
Director's Corner

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ECW Executive Director Yasmine Sherif
Yasmine Sherif

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