No Peace Which Is Not Peace For All …

Director's Corner
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Yasmine Sherif

“No peace which is not peace for all. No rest until all has been fulfilled.” ~ Dag Hammarskjöld, the late United Nations Secretary-General wrote in his inspiring book Markings.

His words reinforce the title of ECW’s recently released Annual Results Report, which paraphrases American poet Robert Frost: “We have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep.”

We have no time to waste. We must race before it is too late. There are 222 million children and adolescents not living in peace, not able to learn, not able to dream of a better future. Without their education, there can be no rule of law, no good governance, nor a strong economy – all imperatives for peaceful, stable and thriving societies.

Twelve-year-old Nadifa’s hands are hardly big enough to hold a hammer. Yet to survive and support her family, she must work at a quarry smashing chalk stones. Nadifa isn’t alone. Armed conflict, forced displacement and crushing poverty mean that Nadifa, along with most of Somalia’s internally displaced children, are out of school and forced to work to survive. They deserve peace and the right to a quality education that empowers them to help build peace.

Yet, the world today is suffering a global learning crisis in which the lives of 222 million girls and boys are impacted by additional layers of brutal crises, such as armed conflicts, climate induced disasters and forced displacement – all disrupting their education.

While we have made great strides since Education Cannot Wait (ECW) first became operational in 2017 – reaching close to 7 million girls and boys in less than four years – we are only getting started. ECW is accelerating the impact of our investments, expanding our strategic partnerships, and delivering quality education with humanitarian speed and developmental depth to reach those left furthest behind. This is achieved through a collective effort including our implementing partners on the ground in the world’s toughest contexts.

In 2021 alone, together we reached 3.7 million children and adolescents across 32 crisis-impacted countries (including 49% girls). An additional 11.8 million children and adolescents were reached through our COVID-19 interventions that same year, bringing the total number of children and adolescents supported by COVID-19 interventions to 31.2 million (52% girls). 

A proven model of effectiveness and efficiency, we have removed silos, nurtured coordination and cooperation, and ensured less bureaucracy and more accountability. This in turn has crowded in financial resources to deliver #ECWResults for children. We did so by embracing the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ Reform and Our Common Agenda. We translated the New Way of Working into action and moved with a laser-focus to reach those left furthest behind. The rights and dreams of girls and boys like Bchiote, Meda and Rafat became our drivers to deliver to them a safe, quality learning environment.

We have now generated the global momentum to take these early investments to scale.

As we were reminded on this year’s World Humanitarian Day and International Youth Day, it takes a village to raise a child. And it will take our entire global village to deliver on our promises of education for all – the foundation for all Sustainable Development Goals, all human rights, and for peace and security.

As the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, states in this month’s high-level ECW interview: “I am hard-pressed to think of anything more important than ensuring the education of our children. It is fundamental for the progress of society and our future well-being.”

At September’s UN General Assembly, Transforming Education Summit and Global Citizen Festival, we will have the chance to accelerate the realization of #222MillionDreams✨📚. We have the opportunity to seize this momentum.

We cannot lose it. Now is the time to sprint and take the action needed to make a difference in the lives of 222 million children and youth left furthest behind in crisis. No rest until all has been fulfilled.

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Yasmine Sherif Portrait
Yasmine Sherif
Director

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