Justin van Fleet is the Director of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity & Chief Advisor to Theirworld.
When Education Cannot Wait was established, its founders knew there was an immediate issue which needed solved: systematically, education was not seriously included in humanitarian response plans and the link between emergencies and longer-term development was missing. A new way of working was necessary.
Full speech of Rt Hon Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education & Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group (HLSG) on Action for Refugee Education
In 2016 world leaders agreed to strengthen the international response to the global
refugee crisis and grow support to meet the needs of refugee and host communities.
This included promising “to ensure all refugee children are receiving education within a few months of arrival and to prioritize budgetary provision to facilitate this, including support for host countries”.
The new Global Compact on Refugees sets out a Programme of Action which includes commitments to “expand and enhance the quality and inclusiveness of national education systems to facilitate access by refugee and host community children and youth to primary, secondary and tertiary education”. It also commits to “provide more direct financial support to minimize the time refugee boys and girls spend out of education”.
However, more than half of the world’s refugee children – 3.7 million – remain out of school.
Despite this we believe that progress is possible and that having agreed our aims we must act to deliver them.
The High-Level Meeting on Action for Refugee Education will bring together refugee hosting states, donor governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector and civil society to agree how to accelerate and improve efforts to deliver these commitments.
The Meeting will explore efforts to:
• include refugee populations in national education systems
• improve learning outcomes for refugee and host communities
• and support greater responsibility sharing, especially via more and better financing.
New York, 24 July 2018 – Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is proud to sign the Global Disability Summit 2018 Charter for change. As a global fund for education in emergencies, ECW’s overarching goal is to support the delivery of quality education to the millions of children and youth whose schooling is disrupted due to conflict and natural disasters – with special attention to disabled children and youth.
Our investment modalities are geared to reach the furthest behind – those who fall between the cracks of the aid system and yet, are among the most in need. This is particularly true for disabled children and youth who become even more vulnerable in the face of conflict and natural disasters.
As crisis shuts down education systems and destroys infrastructures, temporary learning spaces may be inaccessible to disabled children and youth, or available teachers may lack the necessary training to address their needs. Some families may choose to no longer send disabled children to school due depleted financial means. And what’s more, children and youth in crisis are at greater risk of becoming disabled as they are more susceptible to be injured by landmines, small arms and heavy weapons or to suffer from the lack of medical care.
ECW is committed to addressing and reducing these vulnerabilities and upholding the right of all children to learn. Our investments have a clear focus on equity, ensuring that ECW-supported education programmes address the needs of children and youth with disabilities in crisis settings.
During ECW’s first year of operations – from April 2017 to March 2018 – children and youth with disabilities were specifically targeted in 6 out of our 14 countries of investment. Results are already promising: in a country like Uganda, where estimates of child disability prevalence range from 2 to 10 per cent, disabled children and youth accounted for up to 7 per cent of all children reached through ECW-supported programmes!
Ensuring that disabled children and youth have access to education is not only a moral and legal obligation; it is a sound investment in human development, livelihoods, poverty reduction and social cohesion. People with disabilities are resilient and have other abilities, which may be developed and manifested through quality education. As experience tells us, those furthest left behind often prove to be the most resilient.
I will never forget 10-year-old Siddiqula whom I met in 1991 in an ICRC hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. He lost both his legs to a landmine while playing with friends under a tree. Yet, he was determined and smiled out of gratitude that his life was saved. He had a rare ability: to experience inner strength and gratitude in the face of great adversity. For someone like Siddiqula, education is a powerful means to harness his strength and drive positive change, not only in his own life, but for his whole community.
Through the Charter for Change, together, let’s join forces to ensure these opportunities are not lost!
Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
New York, 6 July 2018 – The just-released ECW annual results report shows ECW’s investments have reached more than 650,000 children and youth affected by conflict and natural disasters during the Fund’s first year of operations from April 2017 to March 2018. In total ECW invested US$82 million in 14 crisis-affected countries.
ECW’s investments are geared to reach the “furthest behind”, i.e. the millions of children and youth who have traditionally fallen between the cracks of the aid system: refugees and displaced children and youth, those living in an ongoing crisis, host communities, girls and adolescent gilrs, the disabled, etc.
The Fund supports programmes spanning a wide spectrum of context-specific activities to meet education needs of crisis-affected children and youth aged 3-18 years old with a focus on improving access to education, equity and gender equality, continuity, protection and quality of learning. These include learning materials and psychosocial support, school and classroom equipment and infrastructure, teachers’ training and support, and non-formal education programmes.
Girls account for 48 per cent of all children reached by the Fund’s investments which is a crucial achievement to reduce the gender gap in crisis settings, as crises disproportionately affect girls’ education; in Afghanistan alone, where girls represent only 39 per cent of primary level school enrolment, ECW investments reached 60 per cent of girls. Another important achievement is the inclusion of early childhood development components – a sector neglected in crisis settings – in two thirds of country programmes supported by ECW, ensuring children in crisis settings benefit from a good start.
The report also highlights ECW’s unique role in catalyzing joint efforts between humanitarian and development aid actors to ensure more effective and sustainable responses and strengthen response capacity and accountability. In particular, ECW is delivering on its promise to ensure rapid education responses from the onset of crises: for example, when the massive influx of Rohingya refugees was recorded in Bangladesh in August-September 2017, ECW was among the first organizations to respond, proving funding to partners on the ground within 6 weeks of the start of the crisis. With 19 per cent of ECW’s funds channeled as directly as possible to local and national responders at country level, ECW is a key player in advancing the localization of aid agenda, already nearing the Grand Bargain target of 25 per cent by 2020 set by a group of the world’s biggest donors and aid providers.
This is only a glimpse of the progress ECW achieved in delivering education to some of the most vulnerable children and youth on the globe in its first year of operations. To know more, read the full report here.