Opinion: World leaders can and must do more for girls’ education in emergencies

That’s why we’re calling on the U.K. government to build on its leadership to date, including by increasing support for the Education Cannot Wait fund to £75 million ($94.7 million) over three years and supporting the fund to increase the amount it allocates to secondary education.

Multiple crises in neighbouring countries has triggered an influx of 450,000 refugees into Chad over the last several years, critically burdening an already strained education system. Recent analysis indicates ECW investments have already reached over 180,000 children in Chad alone. Photo © Devaki Erande/JRS

By Yasmine Sherif and Stephen Twigg

Originally published on Devex

16-year-old Kwanye’s education came to an end after militants started kidnapping girls from her school. She lives in the Lake Chad Basin, where one of the world’s most severe and underreported humanitarian crises has left 2.2 million people displaced, half of them children. The conflict has already claimed her parents and siblings and left her struggling to survive.

Now she reads her old school books so that she doesn’t forget. “I always thought education would give me a better life,” she said. “I can’t go to school when I can barely afford to eat.”

Right now, around the world, there are 39 million girls, who, like Kwanye, have had their education disrupted as a direct result of humanitarian crisis. Of these, 13 million have been forced out of school completely. That’s the equivalent of three girls for every girl in school in the U.K. — three girls whose full potential may never be realized.

World leaders are starting to listen, but more can be done to tackle this. In 2015, they launched the Sustainable Development Goals, promising that every young person completed a good quality education by 2030. Yet a new report published this week by Plan International UK warns that they are way off-track. At current rates of progress, it will be a further 150 years before the goal is reached. By 2030, 1 in 5 girls in crisis-affected countries still won’t be able to read a simple sentence.

For girls affected by crisis, education is a lifeline — and it mustn’t just be primary but a full 12 years of education. Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable in times of disaster or conflict due to their age and gender. They’re more likely to be married by 18 than to finish school. They’re at greater risk of exploitation, gender-based violence, and early pregnancy. In fact, there’s a two in three chance they won’t even start secondary school.

Education can offer these girls a safe space to learn and develop the skills they need to thrive and contribute to the peaceful recovery of their communities. Secondary education also provides an entry point for girls to access health services including mental health support and information about staying safe during natural disasters.

There are some signs of progress. In 2016, the Education Cannot Wait fund, which delivers life-changing education for girls and boys living in humanitarian crises, was established and continues to receive strong and growing support, including from the U.K. government.

Nevertheless, funding for education in emergencies remains much too low, especially for secondary education. As Plan International UK’s report shows, governments and the international community need to take much bolder action if they are to deliver on their promises.

That’s why we’re calling on the U.K. government to build on its leadership to date, including by increasing support for the Education Cannot Wait fund to £75 million ($94.7 million) over three years and supporting the fund to increase the amount it allocates to secondary education.

However, this is a global challenge and requires a global response. All governments and donors must play their part.

In times of crisis, girls want to be able to go to school. They want to be doctors, pilots, and engineers. They want to rebuild their countries. But too often their dream remains just that.

Right now, millions of girls are being left behind, and without committed political leadership, increased resourcing, and targeted action, their chance for a decent education may be lost forever. We can and must do more. Their right is our obligation.

About the authors

Yasmine Sherif
Yasmine Sherif is the director of Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crisis established at the World Humanitarian Summit and hosted by UNICEF. A human rights lawyer with 30 years of experience in international affairs, Yasmine joined the United Nations in 1988 and served in New York, Geneva, and in crisis-affected countries in Africa, Asia, Balkans, and the Middle East.

Stephen Twigg

Stephen Twigg is a Labour MP and chair of the U.K.’s International Development Select Committee. He was previously shadow secretary of state for education and served as a government minister from 2001-2005, first as deputy leader of the House of Commons and later as an education minister.

 

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ALLOCATES ADDITIONAL US$7.8 MILLION TO SUPPORT EDUCATION RESPONSES FOR CHILDREN IMPACTED BY CYCLONE SEASON IN MALAWI, MOZAMBIQUE AND ZIMBABWE

Education Cannot Wait is expanding its recovery support for communities affected by the devastating cyclone season in Southern Africa with an additional US$7.8 million in funding for education responses for children in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

In Mozambique 3,500 classrooms were destroyed by the cyclones. Education Cannot Wait’s funding covers close to 9 per cent of the education sector funding gaps in Malawi and Zimbabwe and 11 per cent of the gap in Mozambique. Photo Manan Kotak/ECW

FUNDING WILL SUPPORT THE RECOVERY OF COMMUNITIES IMPACTED BY CYCLONE IDAI AND CYCLONE KENNETH

3 July 2019, New York – Education Cannot Wait is expanding its recovery support for communities affected by the devastating cyclone season in Southern Africa with an additional US$7.8 million in funding for education responses for children in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

This is the second tranche of funding announced by Education Cannot Wait to respond to the destruction caused by Cyclone Idai in the three countries. In Mozambique, the funding includes a $360,000 allocation to provide education support to children and youth affected by Cyclone Kenneth which pummeled through the country just a few weeks after Cyclone Idai.

This new funding allocation brings Education Cannot Wait’s total support to emergency responses in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to almost US$15 million to date, including contributions from the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) and Dubai Cares.

“This additional support from Education Cannot Wait for the children affected by the catastrophic cyclone season in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe helps to ensure education is a top priority for aid stakeholders throughout the various phases of crisis, from the immediate emergency response to longer-term recovery,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Speed, continuity and sustainability of interventions are crucial for children to achieve quality learning and for education to play its role as a stepping-stone for children and communities to recover and build back better after disaster.”  

Cyclone Idai wreaked vast devastation across the three countries in March. Mozambique was hardest hit by the cyclone and subsequent flooding. Estimates indicate over 3,500 classrooms were destroyed, affecting more than 300,000 students and 7,800 teachers. Children not only lost their homes but were also displaced and in some cases lost family members, friends, classmates and teachers in the disaster. Just a few weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth also hit Mozambique, leaving close to 250,000 people in need of assistance, including 42,000 school-aged children.

Education Cannot Wait’s second funding tranche for the response to Cyclone Idai supports inter-agency humanitarian appeals in the three countries. It includes US$1.2 million in grant funding for Malawi, US$5 million for Mozambique, and US$1.2 million for Zimbabwe. The funding covers close to 9 per cent of the education sector funding gaps in Malawi and Zimbabwe and 11 per cent of the gap in Mozambique.

Building upon the initial funding announced by Education Cannot Wait in April and May to support the response to Cyclone Idai, these additional grants will reach more than 185,000 children across the three countries: 41,491 children in Malawi (20,732 girls); 107,266 children (49,041 girls) in Mozambique and 36,350 children (18,085 girls) in Zimbabwe.

In Mozambique, the new US$360,000 grant to support the response to Cyclone Kenneth is also aligned with the inter-agency humanitarian appeal and will reach an additional 15,000 children (7,500 girls).

Grants to United Nations agencies and international NGOs will be used to support a wide range of partners, including national governments, local NGOs and communities impacted by the cyclones and are aligned with national education sector plans.

Programmes will support access to safe and protective learning environments for affected girls and boys through a wide range of context-specific activities across the three countries. These include: establishing temporary learning spaces; rehabilitating schools; supplying educational materials and recreation kits; school feeding programmes, training and support for teachers to deal with disasters and crisis in schools and community; promoting back-to-school and live-saving messaging; promoting hygiene education and psychosocial support by teachers; and, support to disaster preparedness and disaster management.

LINKS

  • Learn more about Education Cannot Wait’s emergency education response for Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe
  • Meet Maria Alberto, a courageous teacher supporting the recovery of children in Mozambique in our story Portraits of Resilience

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND PARTNERS ANNOUNCE ALLOCATION OF US$14 MILLION FOR THE VICTIMS OF CYCLONE IDAI IN MALAWI, MOZAMBIQUE AND ZIMBABWE

DFID, DUBAI CARES AND EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT COME TOGETHER TO DELIVER EMERGENCY EDUCATION RESPONSES TO MORE THAN 500,000 CHILDREN AND YOUTH

On 1 April 2019 in Mozambique, Leonora Jose, 12, and her friend Olga Romao, 11 poses for a portrait in a classroom that has no roof at the Escola Primeria de Ndunda de Ndunda, in Manga, Beira. Mozambique. The school was badly damaged during Cyclone Idai and resumed activities in some of the classrooms on 27 March 2019. Tropical cyclone Idai, carrying heavy rains and winds of up to 170km/h (106mp/h) made landfall at the port of Beira, Mozambique’s fourth largest city, on Thursday 14 March 2019, leaving the 500,000 residents without power and communications lines down. As at 1 pril 2019, at least 140,784 people have been displaced from Cyclone Idai and the severe flooding. Most of the displaced are hosted in 161 transit centers set up in Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete provinces. As of 31 March, 517 cholera cases and one death have been reported, including 246 cases on 31 March alone with 211 cases from one bairo. Eleven cholera treatment centres (CTC) have been set up (seven are already functional) to address cholera in Sofala. UNICEF supported the Health provincial directorate to install the CTC in Macurungo and Ponta Gea in Beira city, providing five tents, cholera beds and medicines to treat at least 6,000 people. UNICEF has procured and shipped 884,953 doses of Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) that will arrive in Beira on 01 April to support the OCV vaccination campaign expected to start on 3 April. With support of UNICEF and DFID, the water supply system in Beira resumed its operations on 22 March providing water to about 300,000 people. UNICEF has been supporting the FIPAG-water supply operator with fuel – 9,000 liters of fuel per day, and the provision of chemicals for water treatment. Water supply systems for Sussundenga and Nhamatanda small towns have also been re-established.
On 1 April 2019 in Mozambique, Leonora Jose, 12, and her friend Olga Romao, 11, pose for a portrait in a classroom that has no roof at the Escola Primeria de Ndunda de Ndunda, in Manga, Beira. Mozambique. The school was badly damaged during Cyclone Idai and resumed activities in some of the classrooms on 27 March 2019. Photo: Cyclone Idai, Mozambique, © UNICEF/UN0294994/DE WET

DFID, DUBAI CARES AND EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT COME TOGETHER TO DELIVER EMERGENCY EDUCATION RESPONSES TO MORE THAN 500,000 CHILDREN AND YOUTH

11 April 2019, Washington – Education Cannot Wait, the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) and Dubai Cares announced today new commitments of up to US$14 million in funds to support educational responses in the wake of the devastation from Cyclone Idai, which caused widespread destruction and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Out of the total allocation, the Education Cannot Wait Global Trust Fund is providing US$7 million from its emergency reserve, DFID is providing up to US$5.2 million (4 million pounds) and Dubai Cares is providing US$2 million against the emergency education response facilitated by Education Cannot Wait and coordinated by the Education Cluster.

The funds will help restore education services for an estimated total of 500,000 children and youth.

With entire communities uprooted, missing or deceased caregivers, and schools destroyed or being used as temporary shelters, children across the cyclone-affected countries have had their education disrupted and are instead grappling with trauma. They are also vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence, and face the risk of cholera, among other scourges.

In Mozambique alone, the disaster has affected 1.8 million people and destroyed over 3,300 classrooms, leaving 263,000 children out-of-school. In Zimbabwe, close to 150 schools have been impacted, affecting an estimated 60,000 children. In Malawi, an estimated 200 schools have been impacted.

“We have all seen images of the terrible suffering and devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. The UK has, from the start, led the way in supporting the victims of this destruction and the fresh funding I am announcing will provide further help where it is most needed, right now,” said DFID’s Secretary of State, Penny Mordaunt.

Matthew Rycroft, DFID Permanent Secretary, shared DFID's commitments at the Education Cannot Wait High Level Steering Group meeting today on the margins of the World Bank Spring Meeting (Photo Elias Bahaa/ECW)
Matthew Rycroft, DFID Permanent Secretary, shared DFID’s commitments at the Education Cannot Wait High Level Steering Group meeting today on the margins of the World Bank Spring Meeting (Photo Bahaa Elias/ECW)

The First Emergency Responses in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe will focus on supporting needs assessments, establishing temporary learning spaces, providing learning materials, supporting communities to get children back to school, giving teachers the tools, training and support they need to provide psycho-social support for the children in their care, and supporting governments to build back better.

“The loss of life, destruction and suffering that has resulted from Cyclone Idai is heartbreaking. Children, the most vulnerable victims of any disaster, are at the moment facing tremendous distress and uncertainty. Our partnership with Education Cannot Wait, allows us to quickly respond to this emergency and help reestablish access to education,” said Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares.

Dubai Cares (1)s
Dubai Cares CEO Tariq Al Gurg at the Education Cannot Wait High Level Steering Group (Photo Bahaa Elias/ECW)

Funds will be allocated against the emergency appeals launched by the governments of the affected-countries with the support of United Nations agencies and NGOs providing relief on the ground.

“A sudden and unexpected natural disaster of this magnitude causes immense human suffering. It demands an immediate response. For a child or adolescent, the losses are especially devastating,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Unless education services are given priority, the suffering will be prolonged and cause deeper disruption and trauma in their lives. I am deeply grateful to DFID and Dubai Cares for setting a shining example: they moved swiftly together with ECW to provide a coordinated and speedy response in partnership with Ministries of Education, the affected communities, the Education Cluster, UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations to reduce suffering and restore hope when these children and youth need it the most.”