Educating children in crisis situations was an acute enough problem before COVID that the U.N. dedicated its first global breakout fund to finding solutions. Five years on, a global pandemic — and protracted conflicts that have produced 100 million refugees and counting — has exacerbated the crisis, while limiting humanity’s capacity to respond.
The fund, Education Cannot Wait, or ECW, was established by the U.N. following the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit led by former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and became fully operational in 2017. The goal was simple: to provide all crisis-affected children and youth with the “safe, free and quality” education promised by Sustainable Development Goal 4. But marshaling resources was far from meeting the need. Education typically draws only around 2% of all humanitarian funding.