Statement by the Members of Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies
In June 2022, education and finance leaders came together at a Pre-Summit in Paris to discuss their priorities for the upcoming Transforming Education Summit convened by the United Nations Secretary-General. The Transforming Education Summit provides a unique opportunity to address the learning catastrophe before us and take control of the response to urgent education needs. Children’s and youth’s right to inclusive, safe and quality education does not end in times of crisis; to the contrary, it is precisely these situations which present the greatest challenge to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) worldwide.
We urge global leaders and decision-makers to recognise the unprecedented scale of the need, and to respond rapidly to ensure that generations of children and youth do not lose their right to a quality education. It is crucial that they commit at the Transforming Education Summit to an ambitious agenda for providing equitable access to education at all times, for all children and youth.
During the pre-summit, we—members of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies (EiE Hub)—were encouraged to see education in emergencies and protracted crises taking centre stage. Youth representatives gave powerful testimony about how violence, conflict, climate change and displacement affect their education. A stronger commitment to and support for the children and youth left furthest behind is urgently needed.
We are facing a worrying increase in needs relating to education in emergencies and protracted crises. According to Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the current number of crisis-affected school-age children requiring educational support has grown to 222 million. This includes as many as 78.2 million out-of-school children, and close to 120 million who are in school, but not achieving minimum proficiency in maths or reading1. In fact, just one in ten crisis-affected children in primary or secondary education is reaching this proficiency level. Among those left behind are children and youth displaced by conflict, violence or disaster, who represent about half of the more than 100 million internally displaced people, refugees and asylum seekers across the globe2. Indeed, only 68% of refugee children have access to primary education, compared to 90% globally. That drops to 34% versus 66% for secondary education, and 5% versus 40% for tertiary education3. The situation is especially dire among girls, and children and youth with disabilities. Furthermore, in 2020 and 2021 there were more than 5,000 attacks on schools and universities, their students and educators4. Access to safe and inclusive quality education is not only a fundamental right but an indispensable tool for the protection, safety and well-being of displaced and crisis-affected children and youth.
While the international community is committed to ensuring that all children and youth are granted their right to education, we are moving ever farther away from achieving this goal. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely exacerbated the education crisis; the knock-on financial effects include estimates of students at risk of losing US$21 trillion in potential lifetime earnings, the equivalent of 17% of today’s global GDP.
We call on world leaders to make commitments of support that equal the need and (1) put inclusion and the participation of all children and youth at the top of the education agenda, (2) increase education systems’ ability to pre-empt and withstand the effects of future crises, and (3) provide sufficient funding, and effective solutions, to include crisis-affected and displaced children and youth.
Member States with crisis-affected and displaced populations must spend their education funds equitably and include children and youth affected by displacement and emergencies. Education budgets in countries affected by emergencies and protracted crises must be protected and increased, and internally displaced and refugee populations must be included in costing exercises and allocations.
Donor countries should prioritise education in their humanitarian funding – noting the Global Education First target of 4%, if not the more ambitious target of 10% – and ensure that this priority is maintained over time. Funding should particularly target initiatives that focus on target populations that are furthest behind.
All Member States must work to expand funding, including by contributing appropriately during the upcoming ECW High-Level Financing Conference in Geneva in February 2023. Member States must also diversify and improve the funding base for education in emergencies, encouraging non-traditional donors, the private sector and philanthropic organisations. They must explore innovative financing models, and use better coordination to enable different funding modalities to act in unison, to support access to education for vulnerable minorities affected by crisis and those left furthest behind—in both emergencies and protracted crisis contexts. Donor countries also must increase their commitments to finance the inclusion of refugees into national education systems ahead of the 2023 Global Refugee Forum.