21 June 2019, New York – Education Cannot Wait announces a two-year $14 million allocation to support the launch of ground-breaking multi-year education programmes in the Federal Government of Somalia and Member States, Somaliland, and Puntland. The programmes target an overall total of 583,000 vulnerable girls and boys in a country stricken by decades of conflict, widespread violence and disasters, such as droughts and floods.

Hooriyo IDP School, Daynile, District, Somalia, Constructed by FENPS with ECW Grant in 2017 Credits: Save the Children

Education Cannot Wait facilitated the development of the programmes under the leadership of the three Education Authorities with a wide range of national and international partners. With this seed funding allocation, the Fund aims to catalyze additional financing from donors towards the total budget of the programmes that amounts to $191 million over the 2019-2021 period.

“This investment unites partners around quality education for over  half a million vulnerable girls and boys in Somalia. Finally, they will have an opportunity to lift themselves out of a cycle of disenfranchisement, violence and crisis,” said Education Cannot Wait Director, Yasmine Sherif. “This investment reaches those left furthest behind. We hope that this marks an end to their long wait for the basic right to education,”  she said. 

An estimated 3 million children are out of school across Somalia and the country has one of the world’s lowest ratios of primary-age children attendance. Only 30 per cent of boys and 21 per cent of girls of primary-school age attend primary school. At the secondary level, access to education is even more limited, especially for girls: 92 per cent of adolescents within the official age range for secondary school are not enrolled in secondary education. Children uprooted by the crisis are also particularly affected, with nearly two-thirds of displaced children not attending school.

The three programmes focus on increasing equitable access to quality education, providing safe learning environments and ensuring retention and improved learning outcomes for the most vulnerable girls and boys.  Displaced, returnee and host community children as well as children living in remote areas are specifically targeted. Activities include the rehabilitation of schools, school-feeding programmes, psychosocial support, alternative basic education and the provision of teaching and learning materials. Training and awarenesss-raising activities to increase enrolment and retention rates, address barriers to girls’ education and promote child protection and safeguarding best practices are also planned. 

Education Cannot Wait’s initial $14 million allocation is distributed over 2019-2020, with $7 million being disbursed the first year to kickstart the three programmes and $7million to be disbursed the second year, subject to satisfactory performance.

The three multi-year programmes were developed over several months in close collaboration with in-country education partners and donors. The programmes are aligned to the Education Sector Strategic Plans, Somalia’s humanitarian response plan and the Joint Resilience Action Programme produced by UN agencies in-country.

The multi-year programmes build on the achievements of Education Cannot Wait’s 2017-2018 First Emergency Response programme of $4.9 million in Somalia which focused on retaining children in schools through school feeding programmes, access to safe drinking water and promotion of hygiene best practices, support to teachers with emergency incentives, support to Community Education Committees, and the provision of teaching and learning supplies.


Key Facts and Figures

  • An estimated 3 million school aged children are out of school in Somalia
  • 25% of adolescent girls aged 15 to 24 are illiterate in the country
  • 62% of internally displaced children age 5-17 years in Somalia are not attending school
  • 92% of adolescents within the official age range for secondary school are not enrolled in secondary education
  • The overall budget of the three multi-year programmes is $191 million over 3 years (i.e. approximately $63 million per year)
  • Education Cannot Wait’s seed funding allocation amounts to $7 million per year, divided among the programmes on a needs basis ($2.9 million for the programme in the Federal Government of Somalia and Member States, $2.2 million for the programme in Somaliland, and $1.8 million for the programme in Puntland)
  • If fully funded, the three programmes will benefit close to 583,000 children and youth – half of whom are girls – and 12,000 teachers (40% female).

Notes to Editors:

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):

ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings.  

Since it became operational in 2017 the Fund has invested in 25 crisis-affected countries is reaching more than 1.4 million children and youth. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes.

Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure. 

Additional information is available at

For press enquiries, contact: Anouk Desgroseilliers, , +1 917 640-6820

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Let’s act before it’s too late: the urgent need for action on the hidden safe school crisis

 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.

Continue reading “Let’s act before it’s too late: the urgent need for action on the hidden safe school crisis”

ECW Annual Results Report: Over 650,000 Children Reached in the Fund’s First Year of Operations

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 map of investments and results (as of 31 March 2018)
ECW map of investments and results (as of 31 March 2018)

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.

EWR1001_Annual Results Report_web 93

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.