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.
New York, 22 June 2018 – The Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund announces an allocation of US$3 million to support the delivery of education services to newly displaced children in the ongoing Syria crisis. This allocation will support aid organizations in meeting urgent growing education needs resulting from new population displacements in Idleb and Aleppo Governorates in the North-West of the country and in Deir-ez-Zour, Hassakeh and Raqqa Governorates in the North-East.
The funds will improve access to quality education and learning opportunities for 20,000 newly displaced children and will support 500 education personnel. The 12-month programmes will include activities such as establishing safe learning spaces, delivering learning and recreational materials, distributing stipends and teaching resources to teachers and mobilizing communities in support of education. Psychological support will also be provided to help children recover from the trauma they endured in active conflicts areas.
This allocation will build on the coordination and implementation architecture established under the ongoing Whole of Syria (WoS) ECW $15 million Initial investment. Activities to be implemented under this new allocation are also in line with the Syria Education Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) 2018.
New York, 1 June 2018 – The Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund announces an allocation of US$1.5 million to bring thousands of children back to school in Papua New Guinea. The island nation was struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake at the end of February which affected more than half a million people and damaged key infrastructures, including hundreds of schools.
This ECW emergency response allocation will provide resources for humanitarian aid organizations to immediately start restoring education services, particularly through the setting up of temporary learning spaces. The funding will cover activities for a period of one year.
“It is urgent for children to recover a sense of normalcy in their lives after living through such a disaster. Going back to school is crucial to help them overcome the trauma they have endured and to ensure they continue to learn and thrive,” says ECW Director, Yasmine Sherif.
ECW’s emergency response allocation targets some of the areas most affected by the earthquake in the Southern Highlands Province and in Hela Province. Thanks to ECW’s support, children will benefit from a safe learning environment while damaged infrastructure is being rehabilitated. They will also receive psychological support as well as learning and recreational materials. At total of 10,000 teachers will also be supported through these funds.
This is ECW’s second First Emergency Response allocation this year, further to a $3 million allocation announced in April to support the education response in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I applaud the new EU policy framework aiming to increase the humanitarian funding for education in emergencies and crises to 10 per cent of its overall humanitarian aid budget as of 2019. This announcement marks a key milestone in our collective efforts to fill the funding gap to meet the urgent education needs of millions of children and youth affected by conflict and natural disasters across the globe.
In situations of conflict and crises, safe access to a quality education is absolutely crucial to provide children with physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection that can be both life-sustaining and life-saving. Yet, education is often one of the first service to be disrupted and one of the last to be restored.
Lack of access to education directly impacts children’s safety and well-being. All children are exposed to threats during and after emergencies. However girls and boys who are out of school are at much higher risk of violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. This includes sexual violence and exploitation, recruitment or use by armed forces or groups and hazardous child labor.
The new EU policy framework also aims to bring children caught up in humanitarian crises back to learning within 3 months. Along with the EU increased funding, this will undeniably play a significant role in supporting a quick and effective response to needs.
The EU has been instrumental in raising the centrality of education in the humanitarian response, consistently stepping up its funding in recent years. I am hopeful that this new announcement will set yet another example for other donors to follow through. There is no time to waste, the lives and future of millions of children are at stake.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
By Yasmine Sherif, Director Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
Conflicts and disasters are about destruction. Discrimination is about disempowerment. Combine the two and we get a glimpse of the raw reality affecting millions of girls. Standing amidst the ruins of their towns, communities and families, they are also shackled by marginalization, exclusion and lost opportunities because of their gender.
An estimated 39 million girls and adolescent girls in countries affected by armed conflict or natural disasters lack access to quality education. They represent a new generation prevented from acquiring skills to withstand the shocks of crisis, rebuilding their lives and contribute to reconstruction for their society. They also represent a segment of humanity deprived of the right to learn, grow and achieve their potential.
You find them in South Sudan, where 72 per cent of primary-school aged girls (vs. 64 per cent of boys) do not attend primary school; in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where only 38 per cent of primary school students are girls; in Niger where only 15 per cent of 15-24 year old girls and young women are literate vs. 35 per cent of young men; and, in Afghanistan where 70 per cent of the 3.5 million out of school children are girls, to mention a few illustrative examples of the staggering statistics in the 21st century.
As a result of the combined destruction and discrimination wrought upon them, girls in emergency settings are less likely to attend and complete school: girls living in conflict and crisis affected contexts are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than those living in a country where there is no crisis. Further, conflict widens education inequalities, decreasing adolescent girls’ ability to achieve social mobility and influence gains in livelihoods that are essential for sustainable development.
When people have lost everything, what do they have left? Their children. Boys tend to be the priority for education. Girls fall behind because it is harder for them to access education due to multiple barriers, such as insecurity, abject poverty, social norms, gender-based violence and other forms of discrimination. Even when the parents and the society want girls to attend school, girls in conflict situations are particularly at risk of being victims of violence. There are three times more attacks on girls’ schools than boys’ schools. Over half of the 30 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are fragile or conflict- affected. A girl in South Sudan today is more likely to die in childbirth than to finish high school.
On the other hand, it has been demonstrated that better educated women have better income and their children are better educated and in better health. Greater education equality between male and female students could decrease the likelihood of violent conflict by as much as 37 per cent. Thus, while the statistics clearly make the case for investing in girls’ education, it goes without saying that girls too are part of humanity and entitled to their human rights.
Advancing girls education in conflict situations presents multiple challenges. It requires access to data and analysis of the gender-disparities between girls and boys, targeted gender-action, continuity, as well as speed in delivery and access to seemingly inaccessible areas in a country that often lacks either the ability or the will to deliver quality education to girls. But these challenges can be overcome. To break through those barriers, humanitarian and development partners need to work together on the ground and across the humanitarian-development nexus, while adequate financial resources have to be made available to ensure continuity and quality.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) – a first of its kind global fund dedicated to education in emergencies launched in 2016 – places women and girls at the forefront of its support to conflict and disaster affected countries. A global partnership entity closely connected to implementing partners in crisis-affected countries, ECW aims to reach the “furthest behind”; i.e. an estimated 75 million children and youth whose education is disrupted due to conflicts and natural disasters. ECW’s funding modalities are geared to address the most urgent education needs when a new humanitarian crisis erupts or escalates and to ensure continuous support throughout the recovery phase.
Investments are already yielding results for girls affected by some of the worst conflicts and crises around the globe. For example, in Afghanistan, two thirds of the total number of children reached so far by the fund’s programs are girls, while in one project, ECW’s implementing partners even succeeded in recruiting 75 per cent of women teachers.
In cooperation with United Nations Member states, including donors and host-governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and civil society, affected populations and other education stakeholders, ECW supports targeted and focussed gender action. This entails gender-specific data and analysis, gender-sensitive training, curricula, learning materials, and violence-free learning environments.
ECW funds multi-year programmes specifically designed to provide quality education to children and youth in emergencies and crisis settings, ensuring they are no longer ‘left behind’. Through education, children and youth have an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills to thrive and contribute to post-crisis reconstruction and sustainable development. Adopting a pioneering approach, ECW brings both humanitarian and development stakeholders to work together, reducing the fragmentation and silos that have traditionally hampered the efficiency and sustainability of education aid in crises. This new way of working bridges relief and development, ensures the collective response is faster, reaches further and strengthens the chances for inclusion, gender-equality and quality in education for collective learning outcomes.
Indeed, efforts are being made across the globe to advance girls’ education crisis. The upcoming Canada-hosted G7 summit will focus specifically on girls’ education to ensure that the discussions during the summit translate into substantive investments for girls in crisis situations. All members of the G7 are committed to girls’ education (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States).
To ‘reach the furthest behind first’, we believe that the G7 should prioritize gender and focus on girls and young women as one of the most vulnerable groups in the humanitarian response and in the continuum between humanitarian and development aid. By supporting the new way of working and making adequate investments, G7 can significantly strengthen the odds for quality education for girls in crisis, open up opportunities for their growth and the sustainable development of their societies.
This is the 21st Century: the era of ending gender-inequality. We cannot allow the vicious circle of destruction and disempowerment to snare girls into new fetters, trapping the humanity of a new generation of girls. Their education cannot wait until we have achieved gender-equality elsewhere. The empowerment of nearly 40 million young girls and adolescent girls in armed conflict and natural disaster is a very real indicator of progress. The G7 summit is right on target. Let us not lose momentum and miss it, when we have an opportunity to hit it. Showing humanity to the girls in conflict and disasters only asks from us to make sure that our promises and commitments are solid and sincere enough to match their reality.
By Brenda Haiplik, Senior Education Advisor (Emergencies), UNICEF
When some people think of a humanitarian emergency response, they think of what they deem “life-saving” services – like food, shelter, water and sanitation. But just as life-saving for children, particularly in the longer term, is education.
At UNICEF we have hundreds of education specialists working in the most difficult circumstances to try and get children the basic education they need and ensure that even when formal schooling is interrupted, children don’t miss out on learning.
From my work in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Iraq, I’ve seen firsthand the impact education has had on the lives of children caught up in violent conflicts. Education provides hope, stability, and sense of normalcy. It’s what children and their families ask for first after a crisis, and as we found during UNICEF’s Learning for Peace programme, education key to providing the skills and knowledge that allows communities to rebuild peaceful societies.
I recently spent time in Erbil, Iraq, where we were close to the front lines. The war in Iraq has had a devastating impact on the education system and millions of children are out of school. Almost 1 in 3 children need humanitarian assistance. Daily reports showed vulnerable Iraqis being internally displaced and on the move, fleeing renewed fighting. Working there we had to be creative and thoughtful about when and where to open learning spaces to best fit this moving population.
In March 2016 the UNICEF team in Iraq mobilized education and WASH partners and contractors and in less than a week set up 11 tented classrooms in a temporary school. When UNICEF visited the camp in early April, this temporary school had over 1,100 primary students. There was a lot of positivity in the classrooms – children reported they felt ready for their examinations coming up in May.
Without this response these kids would have missed out on learning for another school year. In a place like Iraq, that year can change the course of their lives.
Around the same time as our children in Iraq were sitting their exams, world leaders were in Istanbul recognizing the life-saving powers of education and launching the Education Cannot Wait fund. This Fund aims to reach the 75 million children around the world who are in desperate need of our educational support due to conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies.
Focusing on the needs of children in crisis areas, where education is often directly under attack, is crucial to achieving the global Sustainable Development goals – particularly Goal 4 – ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. This includes children and young people, displaced within their own countries as well as children forced to flee their homes and become refugees.
Without reaching these children we risk losing a generation of young people. We know the equitable delivery of education can transform not just their individual lives, but also the shape of their societies.
So as we celebrate World Humanitarian Day, we applaud the tireless efforts of all those providing education for children in the world’s most challenging environments, and reiterate our commitment to getting safe, quality and inclusive education to every child.