‘We Have Promises to Keep’ ~ New Education Cannot Wait Results Report: ECW Investments Reach 7 Million Crisis-Impacted Children and Adolescents in World’s Toughest Contexts

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New ECW Annual Results Report highlights impact of the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises as leaders race to deliver on the promise for universal, equitable quality education.  

New York

Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, issued its new Annual Results Report today indicating that ECW investments with strategic partners have reached close to 7 million children and adolescents – 48.4% of whom are girls – since becoming operational in 2017.  

According to ECW’s “We Have Promises to Keep: Annual Results Report,” despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, conflict, protracted crises and climate-related disasters, the Fund and its partners continue to expand the response to education in emergencies and protracted crises needs globally.  

ECW mobilized a record-breaking US$388.6 million in 2021 alone. Total contributions to the ECW Trust Fund now top US$1.1 billion. Furthermore, across 19 countries supported through ECW’s Multi-Year Resilience Programmes (MYRPs), donors and partners mobilized an additional cumulative amount of more than US$1 billion in new funding for education programmes supporting the same type of beneficiaries as the MYRPs. This includes $685 million of investments strongly aligned and coordinated with the MYRPs.  

Through its strategic partnerships, ECW reached 3.7 million children and adolescents across 32 crisis-impacted countries in 2021 alone (including 48.9% girls). An additional 11.8 million children and adolescents were reached through the Fund’s 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). 

ECW’s results report provides evidence of progress made by focusing on quality learning outcomes for the most marginalized children in crises. Of all children reached by ECW’s investments to date, half are girls, and 43% are refugee or internally displaced children. 

The results report comes on the back of shocking new estimates issued by ECW in June 2022 indicating that 222 million school-aged children and adolescents caught in crises globally are in urgent need of educational support. These include 78.2 million who are out of school and 119.6 million who are in school but not achieving minimum competencies in mathematics and reading.  

“While progress is being made, we still have a long way to go. There is no dream more powerful than that of an education. There is no reality more compelling than to attain one’s full potential. We must keep our promise: to provide inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4) and Human Rights Conventions,” said The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the Education Cannot Wait High-Level Steering Group.  

Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Financing Conference will take place in Geneva in February 2023. Hosted by Switzerland and Education Cannot Wait – and co-convened by Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan – through the 222 Million Dreams✨📚 campaign, the conference calls on government donors, private sector, foundations and high-net-worth individuals to turn commitments into action by making substantive funding contributions to ECW.  

“ECW’s solid results in our first five years of operation are proof of concept that we can turn the tide and empower the most marginalized girls and boys in crises with the hope, protection and opportunity of quality education. We can make their dreams come true, whether it’s to become a nurse, a teacher, an engineer, or a scientist. With our strategic partners, we urge governments, businesses, and philanthropic actors to make substantive funding contributions to ECW to help turn dreams into reality for children left furthest behind in crises,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.  

According to the report, ECW expanded its portfolio of grants active in 2021 to a total amount of US$495.8 million. Six new Multi-Year Resilience Programmes (MYRPs) were developed in 2021, bringing ECW’s MYRPs portfolio to a total of 24 protracted crises. These multi-stakeholder programmes provide a framework to strengthen coordination, and predictable and flexible funding required to achieve quality education outcomes in protracted crisis settings ranging from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, and the Sahel and Venezuela regional crises. 

Key Trends 

According to the report, conflict, forced displacement, climate-induced disasters and the compounding effect of the COVID-19 pandemic fueled increased education in emergencies needs with funding appeals reaching US$2.9 billion in 2021, compared with US$1.4 billion in 2020. While 2021 saw a record-high US$645 million in education appeal funding – the overall funding gap spiked by 17%, from 60% in 2020 to 77% in 2021.    

There are a number of concerning trends highlighted in the report, including an increase in the scale, severity and protracted nature of conflicts and crises, continued attacks on education, and record-high displacements driven by climate change, conflicts and other emergencies.  The COVID-19 pandemic has also deepened the global learning crisis. In 2020 and 2021, 147 million children missed over half of in-person instruction, and as many as 24 million learners may never return to school, according to the United Nations

Annual Results Report Highlights  

  • More ECW grants are measuring improved levels of academic and/or social-emotional learning; 53% of grants that measure learning levels showcase solid evidence of increased learning levels compared to 23% of grants active in 2020. 

  • The share of children reached with early-childhood education (ECE), and secondary education increased substantially. Among all children reached by ECW: the share reached for ECE increased from 5% in 2019 to 9% in 2021; the share reached in secondary education increased from 3% to 11% for the same period.   

  • 92% of ECW-supported programmes reporting data demonstrated an improvement in gender parity.  

  • More girls and boys are completing their education and/or transitioning to the next grade/level, with a weighted completion rate of 79% and transition rate of 63%.  

  • Close to 27,000 teachers (52% female) were trained and demonstrated an increase in knowledge, capacity or performance in 2021. 

  • Over 13,800 learning spaces are now featuring mental health and/or psychosocial support activities and the number of teachers trained on mental health and psychosocial support topics has doubled in 2021, reaching 54,000.

- Download the results highlights factsheet here.

- Download the full report here.

- Download the Executive Summary of the report here – also available in ArabicFrench and Spanish.

- Download photos and B-roll here.

Additional abbreviated translations available in: 

Russian German Dutch Italian Portuguese Chinese | Japanese | Korean | Thai | Czech | Vietnamese | Malay | Slovak | Polish | Indonesian


Note to Editors

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. We support quality education outcomes for refugee, internally displaced and other crisis-affected girls and boys, so no one is left behind. ECW works through the multilateral system to both increase the speed of responses in crises and connect immediate relief and longer-term interventions through multi-year programming. ECW works in close partnership with governments, public and private donors, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and other humanitarian and development aid actors to increase efficiencies and end siloed responses. ECW urgently appeals to public and private sector donors for expanded support to reach even more vulnerable children and youth. The Education Cannot Wait High-Level Financing Conference, co-hosted by ECW and Switzerland, and co-convened with Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan, will take place February 16-17, 2023, in Geneva.

On Twitter, please follow: @EduCannotWait, @YasmineSherif1, @KentPage
Additional information available at: www.educationcannotwait.org
For press inquiries:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@un-ecw.org, +1-917-640-6820
Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735
For other inquiries: info@un-ecw.org

For Press Inquiries:

Anouk Desgroseilliers:

Kent Page: