COVID-19 EDUCATION RESPONSE: EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND PARTNERS REACH OVER 9 MILLION VULNERABLE CHILDREN AND YOUTH

As the world marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic on 11 March 2021, initial progress reports on Education Cannot Wait’s (ECW) COVID-19 emergency responses to date show that the Fund and its partners have already reached over 9 million vulnerable girls and boys in the midst of the worst education crisis of our lifetime.

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency education programmes supported by Education Cannot Wait are providing hope and protection to girls and boys in over 30 emergencies and protracted crises world-wide  

This press release is also available in Spanish, French, and Arabic.

10 March 2021, New York – As the world marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic on 11 March 2021, initial progress reports on Education Cannot Wait’s (ECW) COVID-19 emergency responses to date show that the Fund and its partners have already reached over 9 million vulnerable girls and boys in the midst of the worst education crisis of our lifetime.

Within days of the declaration of the pandemic one year ago, ECW rapidly allocated $23 million in COVID-19 emergency grants to support continuous access to learning opportunities and to protect the health and wellbeing of girls and boys living in emergencies and protracted crises. Shortly after, ECW continued to scale up its response with a second allocation of $22.4 million – specifically focusing on refugee, internally displaced and host community children and youth.

“During COVID-19, our investments have been life-sustaining for children and youth enduring crisis and conflict around the world. Despite the pandemic, our government partners, civil society and UN colleagues have been working hand in hand with communities to deliver remote learning and continued education in safe and protective learning environments,” said Yasmine Sherif, the Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Yet, so many children and youth have been left behind, as financial resources are required to reach them. We risk losing entire generations of young people who are already struggling in emergencies and protracted crisis.”

The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and the Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Steering Group, reinforced the urgent need for more funding to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 4 through Education Cannot Wait – during and after the pandemic: “I call on all education stakeholders to join Education Cannot Wait’s efforts in mobilizing an additional $400 million to immediately support the continued education of vulnerable children and youth caught in humanitarian crises, stressing the need to move with speed. We cannot afford to lose more time, nor to let millions of refugee and conflict-affected children, their families and teachers lose hope.”

In total, ECW’s COVID-19 emergency grants target 32 million vulnerable children and youth (over 50% of whom are girls) in over 30 countries affected by armed conflict, forced displacement, climate-related disasters and other crises.  For these girls and boys, the pandemic has generated a ‘crisis within a crisis’, further entrenching pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. Without access to the protection and hope of an education, they face multiple risks, including child labor, child marriage and early pregnancy, human trafficking, forced recruitment into armed groups, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence.

ECW’s COVID-19 emergency grants to over 80 United Nations agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations working on the ground in 33 crisis-affected countries and contexts support a wide range of interventions ranging from pre-primary (19%), primary (56%) and secondary (25%) education as well as non-formal education. These include:

  • Remote learning: with the total disruption of the usual education systems in emergency-affected areas, ECW grants support alternative delivery models, including informal education materials at the household level, as well as scaling up distance education programmes, particularly via interactive radio.
  • A focus on gender: gender-specific actions were integrated at the design stage of the response, supporting rapid gender assessment and targeted approaches for girls. Over half of the children and youth reached to date are girls and 61% of all teachers trained are women.
  • A focus on forcibly displaced population: 7 million refugee and internally displaced children and youth are specifically targeted through ECW-supported interventions.
  • Safe and protective learning environment: activities improve access to water, hygiene and sanitation to protect children and their communities against the risks of COVID-19. Messaging, tailored to local languages and contexts, provides practical advice about how to stay safe, including through handwashing and social distancing.
  • Mental health and psychological support: this includes COVID-19-specific guidance and training for parents and teachers to promote the resilience and the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth. ECW also supports all children and adolescents to receive instruction in social emotional learning.

In addition to its 12-month emergency grants portfolio, ECW also invests in multi-year resilience education programmes that provide longer-term holistic learning opportunities for children and youth caught in protracted crises to achieve quality education outcomes.

More information on ECW’s COVID-19 response is available here.

Download ECW’s COVID-19 response factsheet.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT INTERVIEWS UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

Please find below Education Cannot Wait’s interview with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, focused on the crucial role of education in the lives of crisis-affected children and youth.

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ECW: Why is education a priority in emergencies and protracted crises?  

António Guterres:  The COVID-19 pandemic has upended societies and created the largest-ever disruption of education systems, affecting more than 1.5 billion students.  While remote solutions were rolled out, 1 in 3 children missed out on such opportunities, exposing and exacerbating inequalities and vulnerabilities, especially for those in crisis situations.  In such circumstances, education protects girls and boys from sexual violence and exploitation, trafficking, early pregnancy and child marriage, forced recruitment into armed groups and child labour. It also ensures that they continue learning, offering them hope for the future. As we enter 2021, education must be at the core of pandemic response and recovery efforts. Without resolute political commitment by global leaders, as well as additional resources for Education Cannot Wait, and its UN and civil society partners, millions of girls and boys may never return to school. Investing in the education of these vulnerable children and youth is an investment in peace, prosperity and resilience for generations to come – and a priority for the United Nations.

ECW: Why is it important to facilitate more collaboration between humanitarian and development actors in crisis contexts? 

António Guterres: With the intensification of conflicts, climate change-related disasters, forced displacement reaching record levels and crises lasting longer than ever, humanitarian needs keep outpacing the response despite the generosity of aid donors. Partnerships are crucial to transform the aid system, end silos and ensure that aid is more efficient and cost-effective. Whole-of-child education programmes offer a proven pathway for stakeholders to collaborate in enabling vulnerable children and youth to access quality education in safe learning environments so they can achieve their full potential.

ECW: What message would you like to share with crisis-affected girls and boys whose right to education is not yet being realized? 

António Guterres:  Above all, I pay tribute to their resilience and I commit to working with governments, civil society and all partners to overcome both the pandemic and the crises that have been such profound setbacks in their lives. We must also step up our efforts to reimagine education – training teachers, bridging the digital divide and rethinking curricula to equip learners with the skills and knowledge to flourish in our rapidly changing world.

ECW: As a secondary student in Portugal, you won the ‘Prémio Nacional dos Liceus’ as the best student in the country. After completing your university studies in engineering, you started a career as a teacher. Can you tell us what education personally means to you? 

António Guterres:  Long before I served at the United Nations or held public office, I was a teacher. In the slums of Lisbon, I saw that education is an engine for poverty eradication and a force for peace.  Today, education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.  We need education to reduce inequalities, achieve gender equality, protect our planet, fight hate speech and nurture global citizenship.  Upholding our pledge to leave no one behind starts with education.

ECW:  Following the turbulence of 2020, what is your message to the world as we enter 2021? 

António Guterres:  2020 brought us tragedy and peril.  2021 must be the year to change gear and put the world on track.  The pandemic has brought us to a pivotal moment.  We can move from an annus horribilis to make 2021 an “annus possibilitatis” – a year of possibility and hope.  We must make it happen — together.

Background on UN Secretary-General António Guterres

António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.

Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen, led to a huge rise in UNHCR’s activities as the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015.

Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor.

As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002. Learn more about Mr. Guterres.


ENTREVISTA DE EDUCACIÓN NO PUEDE ESPERAR CON ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, SECRETARIO GENERAL DE LAS NACIONES UNIDAS

Educación No Puede Esperar: ¿Por qué constituye la educación una prioridad en situaciones de emergencia y crisis prolongadas? 

António Guterres: La pandemia de COVID-19 ha transformado por completo nuestras sociedades y causado una interrupción de los sistemas educativos sin precedentes, que ha afectado a más de 1.500 millones de estudiantes. Se han adoptado modalidades remotas, pero 1 de cada 3 niños no ha tenido acceso a estas oportunidades, lo que ha puesto de relieve y ha agravado las desigualdades y vulnerabilidades, sobre todo para las personas que se encuentran en situaciones de crisis. En estas circunstancias, la educación sirve para proteger a las niñas y los niños de la violencia y la explotación sexuales, la trata, los embarazos precoces y los matrimonios infantiles, el reclutamiento forzado por parte de grupos armados y el trabajo infantil. También contribuye a que los niños sigan aprendiendo, lo que les brinda esperanza de cara al futuro. En estos primeros compases del 2021, debemos cerciorarnos de que la educación representa un elemento central de la respuesta ante la pandemia y la recuperación posterior. Si los líderes internacionales, así como los recursos adicionales de Educación No Puede Esperar y sus asociados del sistema de las Naciones Unidas y la sociedad civil, no muestran un férreo compromiso político, es posible que millones de niñas y niños no vuelvan nunca a la escuela. Invertir en la educación de estos jóvenes y niños vulnerables nos permite contribuir a la paz, prosperidad y resiliencia de las generaciones venideras —además de constituir una de las prioridades de las Naciones Unidas—.

Educación No Puede Esperar: ¿Por qué es importante facilitar una mayor colaboración entre los agentes humanitarios y para el desarrollo en situaciones de crisis? 

António Guterres: A pesar de la generosidad mostrada por los donantes de asistencia, la intensificación de los conflictos, los desastres relacionados con el cambio climático, los niveles históricos de desplazamientos forzados y la cada vez mayor duración de las crisis impiden que la respuesta adoptada pueda seguir el ritmo del aumento de las necesidades humanitarias. Las alianzas desempeñan un papel crucial a la hora de transformar el sistema de ayuda, reducir la compartimentación e incrementar la eficiencia y eficacia en función de los costos de la ayuda. Se ha demostrado que los asociados pueden colaborar mediante programas de educación infantil de carácter integral a fin de garantizar que los niños y jóvenes vulnerables tengan acceso a una educación de calidad en entornos de aprendizaje seguros, lo que les permitirá desarrollar su pleno potencial.

Educación No Puede Esperar: ¿Qué mensaje le gustaría transmitir a las niñas y los niños en situaciones de crisis que aún no pueden ejercer su derecho a la educación?

António Guterres: Sobre todo, me gustaría reconocer su resiliencia, además de comprometerme a cooperar con los gobiernos, la sociedad civil y todos los asociados disponibles con vistas a superar la pandemia y las crisis que han supuesto grandes reveses en sus vidas. También debemos ampliar nuestros esfuerzos dirigidos a reimaginar la educación mediante la capacitación de los docentes, la reducción de la brecha digital y la reestructuración de los planes de estudios para que los discentes dispongan de los conocimientos y aptitudes que necesitan para prosperar en un mundo en constante y rápida evolución.

Educación No Puede Esperar: Cuando cursaba la secundaria en Portugal, lo reconocieron como el mejor estudiante del país al otorgarle el “Prémio Nacional dos Liceus”. Tras estudiar ingeniería en la universidad, comenzó a ejercer de docente. ¿Podría explicarnos qué significa para usted la educación a nivel personal?

António Guterres: Mucho antes de trabajar para las Naciones Unidas o la administración pública, ejercí de docente. Observé que, en los barrios marginales de Lisboa, la educación contribuye a la erradicación de la pobreza y al fomento de la paz. En la actualidad, la educación constituye un elemento esencial de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible. Mediante ella, conseguiremos reducir las desigualdades, alcanzar la igualdad de género, proteger nuestro planeta, luchar contra el discurso de odio y promover la ciudadanía mundial. Para cumplir nuestro compromiso de que nadie se quede atrás, es preciso partir de la educación.

Educación No Puede Esperar: Tras la inestabilidad experimentada en 2020, ¿qué mensaje le gustaría trasmitir al mundo en estos primeros meses de 2021?

António Guterres: Después de un 2020 que nos trajo tragedias y peligros, el 2021 debe ser el año en que cambiemos de velocidad y pongamos el mundo en la senda correcta. La pandemia ha supuesto un punto de inflexión para todos. Podemos dejar atrás un annus horribilis para hacer del presente un annus possibilitatis: un año de posibilidades y esperanza. Debemos conseguirlo. Desde la unidad.


ENTRETIEN DU FONDS ÉDUCATION SANS DÉLAI AVEC ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, SECRÉTAIRE GÉNÉRAL DES NATIONS UNIES

ECW : Pourquoi l’éducation est-elle une priorité en situation d’urgence ou de crise prolongée ? 

António Guterres : La pandémie de COVID-19 a bouleversé nos sociétés et provoqué la plus grande perturbation des systèmes éducatifs jamais enregistrée, avec plus de 1,5 milliard d’élèves affectés. Bien que des solutions d’éducation à distance aient été mises en place, un enfant sur trois n’a pas pu en profiter. Cette situation a mis en évidence et exacerbé les inégalités et les vulnérabilités dont ils souffrent, en particulier dans les situations de crise. Dans de tels contextes, l’éducation est un rempart contre les violences sexuelles et l’exploitation, la traite des êtres humains, les grossesses précoces et le mariage d’enfants, l’enrôlement forcé dans des groupes armés et le travail des enfants. Elle permet également aux enfants de poursuivre leur apprentissage et de croire en l’avenir. Alors que nous entamons l’année 2021, l’éducation doit être au cœur de notre riposte à la pandémie et de nos efforts de relèvement. Sans un engagement politique ferme de la part des leaders mondiaux, et sans ressources supplémentaires pour Éducation sans délai et ses partenaires des Nations Unies et de la société civile, des millions d’enfants risquent de ne jamais retourner sur les bancs de l’école. Investir dans l’éducation de ces enfants et jeunes vulnérables revient à investir dans la paix, la prospérité et la résilience pour les générations à venir. C’est une des priorités des Nations Unies.

ECW : Pourquoi est-il important de favoriser une plus grande collaboration entre les acteurs de l’humanitaire et du développement dans les contextes de crise ? 

António Guterres : Du fait de l’intensification des conflits, des catastrophes liées aux changements climatiques, des déplacements forcés qui atteignent des niveaux records et des crises qui perdurent, les besoins humanitaires ne cessent de croître et de devancer les interventions visant à y remédier, et ce malgré la générosité des donateurs. Les partenariats sont essentiels pour faire évoluer le système d’aide, mettre fin aux interventions cloisonnées et garantir une action plus efficace et efficiente. Ainsi, l’intérêt des programmes éducatifs axés sur le bien-être de l’enfant n’est plus à démontrer : ils permettent aux parties prenantes de collaborer en vue d’offrir aux enfants et aux jeunes vulnérables un accès à une éducation de qualité, dans des environnements d’apprentissage sûrs, de sorte qu’ils puissent réaliser pleinement leur potentiel.

ECW : Quel message souhaitez-vous faire passer aux enfants touchés par les crises, et pour lesquels le droit à l’éducation n’est pas encore concrétisé ?

António Guterres : Je rends avant tout hommage à leur résilience, et je m’engage à collaborer avec les gouvernements, la société civile et tous les partenaires afin de surmonter la pandémie et les crises qui ont tant marqué leurs vies. Nous devons également redoubler nos efforts pour réinventer l’éducation : former les enseignants, remédier à la fracture numérique et repenser les programmes scolaires afin de fournir aux apprenants les compétences et connaissances nécessaires pour s’épanouir dans notre monde en constante mutation.

ECW : Lorsque vous étiez lycéen au Portugal, vous avez obtenu les meilleurs résultats du pays et reçu le « Prémio Nacional dos Liceus ». Après des études d’ingénieur à l’université, vous avez commencé une carrière dans l’enseignement. Pouvez-vous nous dire ce que représente l’éducation pour vous ?

António Guterres : Bien avant de servir aux Nations Unies ou d’exercer une fonction officielle, j’étais enseignant. C’est dans les quartiers pauvres de Lisbonne que j’ai constaté que l’éducation est un moteur d’éradication de la pauvreté et une force pour la paix. Aujourd’hui, l’éducation est au cœur des objectifs de développement durable. Nous avons besoin de l’éducation pour réduire les inégalités, atteindre l’égalité des genres, protéger notre planète, combattre les discours de haine et cultiver la citoyenneté mondiale. L’éducation constitue les fondations sur lesquelles doivent reposer les actions qui nous permettront de tenir notre engagement à ne laisser personne de côté.

ECW : Après les bouleversements de 2020, quel est votre message pour le monde à l’aube de l’année 2021 ?

António Guterres : 2020 ne nous a apporté que souffrance et détresse. 2021 doit être l’année du renouveau, et permettre au monde de se placer sur la bonne voie. La pandémie nous a amenés à un moment charnière. Nous pouvons passer d’une annus horribilis à une « annus possibilitatis » : 2021, l’année des possibles et de l’espoir. Nous devons y parvenir, ensemble.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT APPROVES US$1 MILLION EMERGENCY RESPONSE ALLOCATION FOR DISPLACED CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN MOZAMBIQUE

New funding will provide children and youth displaced by violence in Cabo Delgado and doubly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with safe and protective learning environments

Portuguese Version

4 February 2021, New York – In response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in Mozambique, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) today announced a US$1 million first emergency response allocation to benefit displaced children and youth impacted by increasing violence in Cabo Delgado province. Ongoing violence and insecurity have displaced more than half a million people, including 250,000 children in just the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic makes matters even worse, straining education, health and financial systems, and forcing crisis-affected children even further to the margins.

There has also been a rise in attacks on schools in Mozambique. Between 2017 and 2020, 171 schools were affected by school attacks and 45 schools were destroyed. This affected close to 75,000 students and 1,500 teachers. Even more concerning were the killings of six teachers over this same time period. Mozambique endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration in 2015. The declaration is an inter-governmental political commitment to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities from the worst effects of armed conflict.

“Without access to safe and protective learning environments in such a volatile environment, girls face the risk of sexual abuse, early pregnancy and child marriage, while boys may be recruited into armed groups or forced out of school into child labour. The Safe Schools Declaration is our global commitment to ensure every girl and boy on the planet has the right to an education without fear of violence or attack,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. “Amidst insecurity, forced displacement and COVID-19, education means not only means safety, protection and a sense of normalcy for these crisis-affected girls and boys, it also means the possibility for a brighter tomorrow.”

“Cabo Delgado Province has been experiencing armed violence in its central and northern zone districts since 2017, forcing many displaced people to take refuge in the districts of Mecúfi, Pemba, Metuge, Ancuabe, Chiúre, Namuno, Balama, Montepuez, Mueda, Nangade and Palma. Before this, classrooms were already overcrowded in the province,” said Mr. Florencio Mbiquem, Cooperation and Emergency Coordinator with the Cabo Delgado Provincial Education Directorate. “Furthermore, Cyclone Kenneth in 2019 resulted in damage to 185 schools in the province, affecting 45,242 students and 966 teachers. The rainy seasons are causing more education infrastructural damage, not to mention the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19. Education Cannot Wait’s support is therefore very important for children, youth, teachers and their families.”

The new 12-month grant builds on ECW’s COVID-19 response and cyclone relief grants, which have already benefited hundreds of thousands of children in the country. The new funding grants will be implemented in coordination with the Government of Mozambique and the Education Cluster through Save the Children (US$341,000), UNICEF (US$341,000) and Plan International (US$316,000).

Planned interventions will build age-appropriate educational opportunities for crisis-affected girls and boys, support safe and inclusive learning spaces, expand remote learning options, provide children with learning materials, train teachers, and raise awareness to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, including psychosocial support. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, water and sanitation services will be built at schools and learning centres.

In launching this new US$1 million investment, Education Cannot Wait calls on donors, philanthropic foundations and the private sector to fully fund the US$4.2 million education funding gap within Mozambique’s Humanitarian Response Plan.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT APPROVES US$2 MILLION FOR EDUCATION IN EMERGENCY RESPONSE FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN EASTERN SUDAN

Responding to a surge in refugees fleeing violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, ECW funding will be used to build urgently needed learning centres and expand water and sanitation facilities in refugee settlements in eastern Sudan            

Arabic Version

22 January 2021, New York – Education Cannot Wait (ECW) today approved a US$2 million allocation to support rapid education in emergencies interventions for children and youth fleeing violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. This emergency funding will help ensure continued access to quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education for at least 5,800 refugee children and youth in refugee settlements in the eastern regions of Sudan.

Recent fighting in Tigray has forced nearly 60,000 refugees to flee their homes and seek safety and protection across the border in Sudan. More than 30 per cent of them are children, with UNHCR planning a response in order to assist up to 100,000 refugees in eastern Sudan by mid-year.

With more refugees arriving every day, ECW joins the Government of Sudan, UN agencies and civil society in an inter-agency appeal to donors, the private sector and philanthropic foundations to immediately close the estimated US$6.6 million funding gap needed for the education in emergency response in eastern Sudan.

“These innocent girls and boys are the victims of conflict. They were forced to flee their homes with little more than the clothes on their back. Many have been separated from their families and have experienced violence, hunger and untold psychological trauma on the long and treacherous journey to the camps in eastern Sudan,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. “Together with our partners, we will work to make sure they are able to access inclusive, safe and protective learning environments – including quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education – and to ensure that learning facilities offer access to gender- and disability-sensitive water and sanitation facilities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.”

The 12-month ECW ‘first emergency response’ grant will be implemented by Islamic Relief Worldwide (US$400,000), the Norwegian Refugee Council (US$600,000), Save the Children (US$500,000), and UNHCR (US$500,000), in close partnership with the Government of Sudan.

“Education is essential for every child, especially those who have been uprooted and have seen their daily lives and learning opportunities disrupted. To refugee children, education brings a sense of hope, stability and the chance to look to a brighter future,” said Axel Bisschop, UNHCR Representative in Sudan. “The generous support from Education Cannot Wait allows us and partners to build on the Global Refugee Forum’s commitments aiming at having children return to learning within three months of displacement.”

“It is essential that when children are displaced, they are immediately provided with emergency temporary learning spaces. These spaces ensure children are supervised and kept safe, have improved access to food, water and health services, and are able to maintain a sense of normalcy and a school routine,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Sudan Representative. “We are grateful to Education Cannot Wait for supporting conflict-affected children displaced to eastern Sudan to fulfill their right to a quality education.”

ECW’s first emergency response will support the expansion of education infrastructure in the Tunaydbah and Um Rakuba refugee settlements. Girls and children with disabilities will benefit from specialised services, and teachers will be trained to ensure students receive the mental health and psychosocial support they need to adapt to their new environment.

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Notes to Editors:

SCHOOLS CAUGHT UP IN ARMED CONFLICT SWEEPING ACROSS THE SAHEL

A Malian refugee student plays the role of teacher at a school in Goudoubo camp. Because of rising insecurity teachers no longer show up and students often teach each other. Photo © UNHCR/Sylvain Cherkaoui

On the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack, UNHCR and Education Cannot Wait are bridging the gap to provide refugee children with the safety, hope and opportunity of an education. In Burkina Faso, by the end of 2019, more than 3,300 schools were shut, affecting almost 650,000 children and more than 16,000 teachers. Oumar refuses to give up on his education.

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Ag Ahmed in Dori, UNHCR Burkina Faso  (Original Story | Español)

With the violence that had been plaguing parts of the Sahel region for years beginning to rage in Burkina Faso, teachers at Oumar’s school simply stopped coming to work. Then they left the area altogether.

That put Oumar’s education, and the education of thousands of other Malian refugee children who were then living in Mentao refugee camp, on hold.

“I was very sad to have to stay home all day and not be able to continue classes,” says Oumar, a reserved but determined teenager, now 17 years old.

It was a bitter blow. Growing up, there had been no school to go to in Oumar’s home town of Mopti, and after he and his family fled Mali in 2012 as violence was igniting there, life in Mentao camp had given him his first taste of an education.

To keep his schooling going, the boy’s father decided to take him and his siblings to Goudoubo refugee camp, further to the east. There he was registered in a school in the nearby town of Dori, hoping this would allow him to sit the crucial exams that let him progress to secondary level.

But more disruption lay in wait. “The following school year, as soon as the school year started, the same security issues continued in Goudoubo,” he says. “I was very disappointed that once again my school closed and that I was not able to finish the new school year.”

Oumar is over the usual age to start secondary school, something which is common for refugee children, particularly where education is disrupted and there are no accelerated education programmes available.

In Burkina Faso alone, over the past 12 months the number of internally displaced people rose five-fold, reaching 921,000 at the end of June 2020. The country is also host to nearly 20,000 refugees, many of whom have recently fled the camps – seeking safety in other parts of the country or even returning to their homeland.

Across the Sahel, millions have fled indiscriminate attacks by armed groups against both civilians and state institutions – including schools. According to UNICEF, between April 2017 and December 2019 the number of school closures due to violence in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger rose six-fold. By the end of last year, more than 3,300 schools were shut, affecting almost 650,000 children and more than 16,000 teachers.

In Burkina Faso alone, 2,500 schools had closed because of the violence, depriving 350,000 children of access to education – and that was before  coronavirus closed the rest.

On September 9th, the UN marks the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack, with the General Assembly condemning attacks on education and the military use of schools in contravention of international law.

In a ground-breaking report, UNHCR warns the twin scourges of COVID-19 and attacks on schools, targeting teachers and pupils, threatens to destroy hard-won gains in refugee education and destroy the dreams of millions of youngsters.

This year, Oumar thought it was third time lucky. His family moved a few miles down the road from Goudoubo camp to Dori, and he was able to start his first year of secondary school in spite of being older than most of the other students. “Everything was going smoothly,” he says.

“But classes had to stop again – this time because of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Since 1 June, the three school grades that were due to take exams this year have reopened and UNHCR is doing what it can to find places for refugee children.

For the others, UNHCR, with the support of Education Cannot Wait, began buying radios for primary and secondary refugee students to ensure they had the same access as their Burkinabe peers to lessons being broadcast over the airwaves. UNHCR is also working with governments to enable emergency education for displaced children and youth via access to safe distance learning alternatives.

As he waits, Oumar refuses to be downhearted. “I still have the hope that the situation will improve so that I can go back and finish my education,” he says.

Video

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

COUNTERING SCHOOL CLOSURES WITH RADIO EDUCATION IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Children in Madomale listen to the JRS radio programme. Christian Marago, accompanies them. All Photos JRS CAR.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, Jesuit Refugee Service is expanding remote learning opportunities for children impacted by the COVID-19 crisis

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Jesuit Refugee Service (Original Story)

While all the educational facilities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have closed their doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, students and teachers have found a new source for learning: the airwaves.

To keep children from falling further behind in the pandemic, the Jesuit Refugee Service is producing a weekday radio education program known as L’École à la Radio (The School on the Radio). Children have been tuning into the broadcast since June every day from 4:30 to 5pm to hear radio lessons broadcast by the Lego ti la Ouaka community radio in Bambari, where JRS is supporting internally displaced persons and local communities with funding from the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The project is reaching preschool and primary students who have not been able to go back to class since March 2020. Before the pandemic, access to quality education was already a challenge for many children affected by conflict, recruitment by armed groups or forced displacement in CAR. Unable to access the safety, hope and protection of a quality learning environment, their education and future are at risk.

To address the unique social and emotional challenges these children face, L’École à la Radio offers important learning and psychosocial supports for children who have been displaced by war and violence. Over 2980 people (children and parents) now listen to the radio broadcast, which is heard within a radius of at least 50 km around Bambari.

Radio lessons are recorded with the participation of 10 children (5 girls and 5 boys) in the classroom, respecting the adequate prevention measures against COVID-19. This hybrid approach empowers children and presents an innovative way to extend in-class lessons to students staying home.

Listening in on the radio lessons. Photo JRS CAR.

“Since I discovered L’École à la Radio, I always lend my radio to my children and other kids in the village from 4:30 to 5 pm, so that they can learn with the radio classes,” says Christian Marago.

Christian is a father of a four and an eight year old, and lives in Madomale village, located 37 km away from Bambari.

L’École à la Radio addresses them directly, especially since children of their ages are the ones talking and doing the show,” he adds.

After contacting Lego ti la Ouaka radio and expressing his enthusiasm for the program, Christian was invited to become one of the sixteen JRS Radio Listening Focal Points who operate within the communities. They accompany the children during the radio emission and help JRS monitoring the development and impact of the program.

For Christian, the program really helps the students to continue learning, at the same time helping parents with the knowledge and tools they need to supervise their children’s learning progress.

“The language [used in the program] is suitable for children and the subjects are adapted to the context of the coronavirus pandemic,” says Christian. “At the same time, they learn about family, good manners, nature and animals… Also, about the existence of the coronavirus and how to protect themselves and the whole community.”

“From my side, I think that L’École à la Radio is one of the best programs broadcast by Lego ti la Ouaka radio in these times,” Christian says.

Video

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ANNOUNCES US$19 MILLION IN NEW COVID-19 EDUCATION RESPONSE FOR REFUGEES AND IDPs ACROSS 10 CRISIS-AFFECTED COUNTRIES – ECW COVID-19 INVESTMENTS APPROVED NOW TOTAL $43.5 MILLION

Education Cannot Wait announced today an additional US$19 million in education in emergency response funding to the COVID-19 pandemic across 10 crisis-affected countries. With this new funding, ECW’s total COVID-19 response now spans 33 countries and crisis-affected contexts, with US$43.5 million in funding approved so far.

ECW’s First Emergency Response allocations focus on refugee, internally displaced and host community children and youth

22 July 2020, New York ­– Education Cannot Wait announced today an additional US$19 million in education in emergency response funding to the COVID-19 pandemic across 10 crisis-affected countries. With this new funding, ECW’s total COVID-19 response now spans 33 countries and crisis-affected contexts, with US$43.5 million in funding approved so far.

“The time has come for decisive and game-changing measures to ensure that every refugee child accesses a quality education. Education Cannot Wait is taking such measures and we must scale up our support for this effort,” said the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Steering Group. 

This new funding will be delivered in partnership with national governments, UN agencies and a significant number of civil society organizations in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.

These First Emergency Response (FER) grants focus on refugee, internally displaced and host community children and youth: 876,392 in total, of whom 461,706 are girls and 405,886 are boys. In all, 25 grantees will implement the second phase of ECW’s COVID-19 education in emergency response. In the majority of countries, this response is being coordinated by respective governments and UNHCR.

“Children and youth displaced by armed conflicts and climate-induced disasters are especially at risk and doubly affected by COVID-19. This investment is dedicated to them, but much more needs to be done. We call on partners to contribute substantive financial resources for those left furthest behind as a result of brutal conflicts and punishing crises,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. 

68 per cent of the children and youth targeted through the investments are refugees, with 32 per cent being internally displaced and host community children and youth. With continuity of education disrupted by the global pandemic, ECW’s education in emergency response covers the entire 3-18 years of age spectrum with a holistic package of support. 23 per cent of the beneficiaries are at the secondary level to ensure their learning can continue. At the other end of the age-spectrum, 19 per cent of the beneficiaries will benefit from holistic early childhood development activities. In addition to access to learning, the investments include child protection, mental health and psychosocial support services, as well as expanded access to life-saving water and sanitation services.

These new grants build on the rapid response by ECW and its partners to the global pandemic, which has pushed well over a billion children out of school and is having broad, negative social and economic impacts globally. Before the pandemic, 75 million children and youth impacted by emergencies and protracted crises did not have access to the safety, hope and opportunity of an education. The pandemic now puts even more children and youth at risk, and ECW and its partners have issued an urgent global appeal to mobilize US$310 million to reach vulnerable girls and boys most at risk of being left behind.

ECW Second Tranche COVID-19 First Emergency Response

  • Bangladesh: US$600,000 allocated. Grantees: Norwegian Refugee Council ($300,000), Plan International ($300,000)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: US$2.3 million allocated. Grantees: AVSI with AIDES ($900,000), Terre Sans Frontières (TSF), with Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne-Dungu ($1.4 million)
  • Ethiopia: US$2.8 million allocated. Grantees: UNHCR ($1.86 million), Plan International ($440,000), Save the Children ($500,000)
  • Iraq: US$2.3 million allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($580,000), People in Need ($430,000), Public Aid Organization ($430,000), Intersos ($430,000), Norwegian Refugee Council ($430,000)
  • Kenya: US$2.3 million allocated. Grantees: UNHCR ($1.84 million), Save the Children ($460,000)
  • Lebanon: US$2.8 million allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($715,000), AVSI ($695,000), NRC ($695,000), IRC ($695,000)
  • Libya: US$1.5 million allocated. Grantees: UNICEF ($750,000), Norwegian Refugee Council ($750,000)
  • South Sudan: US$2.32 million allocated. Grantees: Lutheran World Federation ($1.5 million), World Vision International ($345,000), Across ($487,000)
  • Tanzania: US$1.5 million allocated. Grantee: International Rescue Committee ($1.5 million)
  • Zambia: US$600,000 allocated. Grantee: UNHCR ($600,000)

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Notes to Editors:

  • ECW First Emergency Response grants announced on 2 April (learn more here)
  • ECW First Emergency Response grants announced on 20 May (learn more here)

WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD BACK BETTER THROUGH EDUCATION

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, jeopardizing the education of 1.18 billion learners in 191 countries, some are even more severely affected than others. These are the 75 million children and young people, including 39 million girls, already marginalized by armed conflict, forced displacement and natural disasters – and whose numbers continue to increase.

By Yasmine Sherif, Director, ECW, and Coalition Education

Available in French

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, jeopardizing the education of 1.18 billion learners in 191 countries, some are even more severely affected than others. These are the 75 million children and young people, including 39 million girls, already marginalized by armed conflict, forced displacement and natural disasters – and whose numbers continue to increase.

Beyond endangering the continuity of education, closing schools increases the risk of abuse and exploitation, including child labor, forced marriage and gender-based violence. It is also likely to have serious psychosocial consequences for children, especially the most vulnerable, including girls and the disabled. Today, the future of an entire generation is in question.

Faced with a challenge of such magnitude, only joint mobilization and a coordinated response can make a difference. Education Cannot Wait has therefore responded to the crisis within the framework of the humanitarian appeal of the United Nations and has participated since the beginning of the crisis in the global coordination group for education led by UNESCO. But to succeed, all actors, including governments and civil society organizations, must come together in a spirit of humanity and multilateralism to mobilize the financial resources required to provide a future to 75 million children and youth left behind.

ECW commends the work of Coalition Education, a coalition of French organizations defending the right to education, which recently published a report on French aid to education. This report highlights the central role of education for peace and development, especially in crisis contexts. Quality education is today more than ever the central vector for accelerating development, strengthening the protection of human rights and enabling the current generation to live a life of dignity, productivity and opportunity.

France was one of ECW’s first partners and shares with ECW a strong commitment to education and gender equality. France’s support to education issues in the global South is essential, both in response to COVID-19, but also for strengthening education systems in the longer term. France’s leadership and influence are even more important in contexts of crisis and fragility where education already suffers from a lack of visibility and investment.

Thanks to the support of France, ECW has piloted in partnership with UNESCO and the Lebanese Ministry of Education innovative learning solutions to respond to COVID-19 to improve access to education for vulnerable children, including refugee and displaced girls and boys, in Lebanon. But we must go further. Education, already underfunded in emergency and protracted crisis contexts, risks being further undermined by the COVID-19 crisis, as development and humanitarian funding may decrease due to economic recession. It needs not be like that if we chose to focus on our hope, rather than our fears.

Some regions are also more vulnerable than others. As highlighted by the report published by Coalition education, the Sahel region and more generally sub-Saharan Africa have a very large number of children and young people out of school, and for these children, access to a protective learning environment means hope for a better future. These regions are at the heart of ECW’s investments, with more than 16 million USD already invested in the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger) in 2019, and an additional 15 million USD planned for 2020.

Education Cannot Wait looks to France as a great strategic partner to help the collective efforts to succeed in delivering education to children and youth in Chad, Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, just to mention a few countries in urgent need. More broadly, ECW aims to raise $ 1.8 billion by 2021 to reach 9 million children and youth in crisis-affected countries. Maintaining the right to education is essential to prevent crises, fight poverty, and reduce inequality. It is the foundation for sustainable development. Without education, there will be no foundation.

Provided that we all come together to reach the 75 million children and youth left furthest behind in conflicts and forced displacement – now doubly affected by COVID-19 – it is not impossible to transform their lives and that of the world. In any case, we must make the impossible possible.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT INTERVIEWS KARINA GOULD, CANADA’S MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The Honourable Karina Gould was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Burlington in 2015.

A graduate of McGill University and the University of Oxford, Minister Gould is passionate about public service and international development. Before her election as the Member of Parliament for Burlington, she worked as a trade and investment specialist for the Mexican Trade Commission in Toronto, a consultant for the Migration and Development Program at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C., and spent a year volunteering at an orphanage in Mexico.

Minister Gould has deep roots in her hometown of Burlington, Ontario, and is an active member of the community and an advocate for women’s issues and affordable housing. She has volunteered with and actively supports the Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club, the Burlington chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Mississauga Furniture Bank, Halton Women’s Place, and other local organizations.

Minister Gould lives in Burlington with her husband Alberto and son Oliver.

With the birth of Oliver, Minister Gould became the first federal cabinet minister to have a baby while holding office. She is passionate about breaking down barriers for women, youth, and underrepresented groups.

Minister Gould addresses students participating in War Child Canada’s ‘Making Waves: Gender-inclusive radio-based education in the DRC’ project during a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo in January 2020.

ECW. As Canada’s Minister of International Development and as a key member of ECW’s High-Level Steering Group, could you please elaborate on the importance of linking emergency humanitarian response with development to achieve quality education for vulnerable children and youth in countries affected by armed conflict, forced displacement and natural disasters.

Karina Gould. We have heard from children and youth affected by armed conflict, forced displacement and natural disasters, as well as their families, that education is a priority for them. And we know that education in emergencies is an issue that ideally works across humanitarian and development responses.

Working through the humanitarian-development-peace nexus is crucial to ensuring that both immediate and long-term education needs are fulfilled. By working through a nexus approach, we recognize that the immediate response of humanitarian actors is vital to keeping children engaged and protected, while the long-term vision of the development community is critical to maintaining gains towards SDG4 and to strengthen education systems and make them more resilient to crises in the future.

Education is often the first thing that is disrupted and the last thing to be rebuilt during an emergency. Despite the importance of maintaining a system of quality education, especially in protracted humanitarian situations, education is still not sufficiently prioritized for immediate humanitarian funding and development actors need to do more to support resilient national education systems that ensure education is not disrupted. This is why Canada supports organizations like Education Cannot Wait, which is emerging as a leader in demonstrating how education programming can be quickly and efficiently rolled out within the humanitarian-development-peace nexus space.

ECW. Canada is a staunch defender of multilateralism in addressing the world’s challenges and opportunities. With almost 80 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including 26 million refugees, Education Cannot Wait will dedicate its First Emergency Response to refugee education in its upcoming COVID-19 response actions this month. How do you see ECW’s progress so far in responding to COVID-19 and how can we strengthen collective efforts to deliver quality education to forcibly displaced populations, who often are left furthest behind?

Karina Gould. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how connected we all are to one another across the globe. At the height of the pandemic, 164 countries had closed their schools, which affected 1.4 billion students worldwide – over 90% of the world’s learners. This is on top of the already marginalized populations such as refugees and internally displaced peoples who did not previously have consistent access to quality education.

In the past months, the world has come together to try to stop the spread of the virus. We shared innovative ideas for how to make education and learning more accessible for those who had their education disrupted, to ensure a continuity of learning for all. These solutions are made more effective and are amplified when we work in partnership, including through our major multilateral institutions like Education Cannot Wait.

I have been impressed with Education Cannot Wait’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the speed with which they responded to the crisis in the first round of COVID-19 funding, and the commitment to focus the second round of funding on education for refugees, particularly adolescent girls. This is a group of children and youth who are often left behind and who are disproportionately affected by education disruptions due to displacement, and now even more so due to COVID-19. It is important that we take this time to strengthen our efforts to ensure these marginalized populations remain a priority in our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These groups must not be forgotten.

We can strengthen our collective efforts to deliver quality education to forcibly displaced populations, who often are left furthest behind, by continuing to work through multilateral organizations like Education Cannot Wait and ensuring strong coordination with other partners on the ground, including other multilateral partners, civil society and local refugee organizations.

In January, I travelled to Congo and the DRC and witnessed firsthand the important work that ECW’s partner organizations like War Child Canada are doing on the ground to support improved access to education for refugees and displaced peoples, especially girls. Their radio program allows adolescent girls and boys to continue with their learning during school closures by transmitting lessons and allowing learners to access teachers through dedicated hotlines. There are even question and answer periods to keep things dynamic and to keep the youth engaged in learning. I have seen how these initiatives are making a difference on the ground, and it is by building on these partnerships that we can maximize our ability to reach the most marginalized children and youth, particularly girls, refugee and displaced children, to ensure they have the opportunities they deserve.

ECW. Education Cannot Wait greatly appreciates Canada’s continued strong support in meeting the educational needs of children and youth caught in emergencies and protracted crises – including Canada’s new contribution of CAD $5.5 million a few days ago, and the Charlevoix Declaration to strengthen girls’ education in emergencies. ECW is committed to ensuring that 60% of our beneficiaries are girls. As a strong advocate for girls’ education, why is it so important for girls, including refugee and adolescent girls, to have access to education in crisis contexts?

Karina Gould. Girls and adolescent girls face a unique and additional set of challenges that limits their chances of accessing and completing an education. These challenges include poverty, unequal gendered roles in the household and at school, gender-based violence, and school environments and curricula that perpetuate inequalities. In crises contexts, these barriers to girls’ education can be even further entrenched, with girls being 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys.

Through the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), Canada recognizes that gender equality is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Access to education is a pathway to achieving this goal. It can significantly reduce poverty, provide for better economic opportunities, and can improve health outcomes such as maternal and child health, protecting women and girls from child, early and forced marriage and providing essential sexual and reproductive health services that can enable women to engage in improved family planning.

Yet access is only part of the solution. We also need to make sure that once the children are in school, that they are learning. Quality teaching and learning, and ensuring that schools are safe places for children, particularly girls, are equally important and require additional efforts and resources, especially during a crisis. Ensuring that teachers are well-trained and equipped to instruct children who have or are living through a crisis; that curricula and learning materials reflect relevant cultural realities and do not perpetuate negative gender norms; and that girls and boys have access to adequate hygiene and WASH facilities are all required in order to keep children engaged and for families to continue to see the value in sending their children, particularly their girls, to school. This is why Canada, as President of the G7 in 2018, championed the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for girls, adolescent girls and women in developing countries to further address these challenges in order to ensure that girls – especially those affected by crisis and conflict – have access to quality education.

I personally believe that it is essential for girls, including refugee and displaced girls, as well as adolescent girls, to have access to education in crisis contexts.

ECW. Prior to becoming Minister of International Development, you were appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions in 2017 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, becoming the youngest female cabinet minister in Canadian history. Congratulations! You are an inspiration and a role model for girls and women around the world. What message and guidance would you like to share with girls who face education challenges – including the COVID-19 pandemic – in achieving their hopes and dreams?

Karina Gould. My message to girls around the world facing education challenges would be this: “You are worth it. I know it is hard and there are a lot of challenges you are facing. But your hopes and dreams are worth fighting for. You have so much to offer the world. You and your voice and your experience matter. The world needs you to keep studying, to keep dreaming, to keep pushing for what you want to see in the world.”

ECW. We’d love to learn a bit more about you on a personal level. Could you tell us what are the three books that have influenced you the most (or that you’d recommend to others to read), and why?  We’d also love to know what kind of music gets you energized and motivated to address the challenges you face as Minister. Finally, is there an inspirational or motivational quote (or two) that you often turn to in life?

One of my favourite quotes is by Margaret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It was hard to pick just three books, so here are my top four!

To Life by Ruth Minsky Sender

I read this book in grade 7, I was 12 years old. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, this book opened my eyes to the experiences of my own family. It helped me talk to my grandmother and understand what it was like to be a survivor and to have to pick up and restart a life after living through unimaginable trauma and loss. It is an incredible story of loss, tragedy, strength, courage and renewal.

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

I have always been a feminist. I have always believed in seeking and fighting for equality. But this book woke me up to the distinct disadvantages that women face around the world. Until I read this book I didn’t understand how dangerous giving birth was for the majority of women in the world. I learned so much and it made me want to learn even more. This book put me on a path to fight for women’s rights and women’s health around the world.

What is the What by Dave Eggers

This a fictionalized biography of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan. This book ignited my passion for protecting children from the ravages of war, building a more compassionate world, and fighting for the rights of refugees. It also led me to explore books about Africa written by Africans, which opened up a whole new literary world for me.

Anne of Green Gables Series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Was one of my favourite series as a child, written by a great Canadian author!

ECW. Are there any final comments you would like to share with ECW’s global audience on the importance of refugee children’s education in emergencies, as well as the importance of not only prioritizing education in humanitarian contexts, but also delivering quality education with ‘the fierce urgency of now’, rather than waiting until the crisis is over.

Karina Gould. When schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world was quick to mobilize to ensure – to the best of our abilities – that we focused on continuity of learning for out of school children. What I would like to reiterate is that we need to remember the vulnerable populations, including refugees and displaced children, who were not in school before the pandemic and who never had access to quality education. These children deserve the chance to learn, and must not be left behind.