Support to education for refugees took centre stage at this week’s first-ever Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, culminating in total year-end global contributions to Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Global Fund for Education in Emergencies, to over a quarter of a billion US dollars in 2019.

New pledges by Germany, European Commission/European Union, Norway and Theirworld bring January-December 2019 donor contributions to Education Cannot Wait to over a quarter of a billion US dollars – with over half a billion US dollars raised in just three years

20 December 2019, New York – Support to education for refugees took centre stage at this week’s first-ever Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, culminating in total year-end global contributions to Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Global Fund for Education in Emergencies, to over a quarter of a billion US dollars in 2019.

New funding pledged at the Global Refugee Forum comes from Germany (EUR 16 million), European Commission/European Union (EUR 5 million), Norway (NOK 20 million) and Theirworld (US$431,000).

This new funding brings Education Cannot Wait’s resource mobilization in 2019 total to US$253 million. The Fund has raised over half a billion US dollars (US$583 million) since its inception just three years ago. The funds will jumpstart resource mobilization efforts for 2020, as Education Cannot Wait and its partners build momentum in their global movement to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to reach 9 million children and youth annually.

“We marked a milestone with UNHCR and our partners at the Global Refugee Forum and the world has spoken. Education needs to be placed at the center of global responses for forced displacement due to armed conflicts and natural disasters,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Every child and every young person is entitled to the protection that crisis-sensitive education programmes can provide during the most difficult time of their young lives. As we enter the Decade of Action, together, we can deliver on SDG4, the Global Goal for inclusive, quality education.”

Germany’s new EUR 16 million contribution (approximately US$17.8 million) substantially adds on to the EUR 10 million previously committed this year, bringing Germany’s total commitment in 2019 to EUR 26 million. Germany’s contribution will support the continued roll-out of ECW’s multi-year resilience programmes in 2020, bridging the divide between humanitarian and development interventions.

With its new EUR 5 million contribution, the European Commission/European Union, expands its total contribution to ECW to close to US$25 million since the inception of the Fund, reaffirming its support for ECW to provide education in emergencies. The European Commission provided the second-largest contribution during the Global Refugee Forum and sets a model for humanitarian-development coherence which is at the core of ECW’s mandate.

Norway’s new NOK 20 million contribution (approximately US$2.2 million) expands upon the NOK 500 million contribution announced for 2019-2022, ranking Norway as the second largest donor to Education Cannot Wait. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jens Frølich Holte, announced the new pledge highlighting that “3.7 million refugee children are not in school and the global community has to step up its efforts.”

Theirworld’s new US$431,000 contribution expands upon its ongoing education support for refugee children on the Greek Aegean Islands with the announcement of a new center near the overcrowded Moria Camp on Lesvos. This new center expands the broader Theirworld project with Education Cannot Wait and will reach additional vulnerable refugee children.

“Worldwide, there are 71 million displaced people – 2 million more than last year. 90 percent have found refuge in a developing country. The root causes of refugee movements are wars, hunger and a lack of prospects. The situation in the crisis region around Syria, in Yemen or in the refugee camps of the Rohingya remains disastrous. It is the children who suffer most. That is why the BMZ committed another 16 million euros to the ‘Education Cannot Wait’ Fund at the Refugee Forum,” said German Development Minister Gerd Müller (view press statement).

“It is heartbreaking to see the conditions these young people are living in and the relative lack of support from the international community. We have found ourselves in a very unique position to deliver immediate education support to refugees through our partnerships and unlock bigger change for thousands more,” said Theirworld President Justin van Fleet (view press statement).

Out of 25.9 million refugees globally, about half are children and youth below 18 years old. While the number of refugee children enrolled in primary education is only 63 per cent, larger gaps remain in secondary education at 24 per cent enrolment and in tertiary/higher-level education at 3 per cent enrolment.

The generous new funding will help build on efforts by ECW and partners to close the funding gap for education in emergencies to reach the approximately 75 million children and youth caught up in forced displacement, conflicts and disasters who urgently need education support.

At the Global Refugee Forum, ECW pledged to “Facilitate and invest in multi-year programmes for refugee and host-community children to access quality education, particularly in secondary education” and joined with the Global Partnership for Education and World Bank to pledge for increased financing and coordination to improve education for refugees.

ECW also called on partners to fully fund the Uganda Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities. Led by the government of Uganda with the support of UNHCR and implemented by a civil society consortium, this ECW-facilitated programme is the first of its kind, with ECW committing US$33 million in seed funding and appealing to donors to fill the gap of US$250 million. 

Since 2017, Education Cannot Wait’s investments – spanning more than 30 crisis-affected countries – have reached 2 million children and youth, of whom 33 percent are refugees.

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About Education Cannot Wait: ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure. 

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Anouk Desgroseilliers,, +1-917-640-6820

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20 November 2018, New York – The Government of Germany announced today a substantial 15 million euros (US$ 17 million) pledge for Education Cannot Wait, a new global fund dedicated to respond rapidly and provide sustainable quality education to millions of children and youth living in crisis worldwide.

The new pledge adds to Germany’s initial 16 million euros ($US18.7 million) contribution to Education Cannot Wait, providing a total of 31 million euros ($35.7 million) in contributions to date and making Germany the third largest donor to the Fund. Today’s announcement is an important milestone for the coalition of donors, United Nations (UN) agencies and civil society partners working together through Education Cannot Wait, as it ensures the Fund reaches its 2018 target – on its way to a total first funding goal to mobilize US$1.8 billion over the 2018-2021 period.

20 November 2018: State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Martin Jagër, announcing new pledge to Education Cannot Wait  at  the launch of the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report in Berlin, Germany.   
20 November 2018: State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Martin Jagër, announcing new pledge to Education Cannot Wait  at  the launch of the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report in Berlin, Germany. Photo: ECW/ Desgroseilliers

The announcement was made at the launch of UNESCO’s 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report in Berlin, Germany. “Education and training are the keys with which to unlock development. Yet there are still 75 million children and young people caught up in crisis and emergency situations who have no way to get an education. We must act now, with resolution and determination, otherwise they will grow up without any prospects” said Dr. Gerd Müller, the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“My goal is to invest 25 per cent of the development ministry’s budget in education and vocational training. As the next step we are launching a special initiative on training and job creation, setting up new training and jobs partnerships with German and African businesses. At the same time we are strengthening the international education fund for children in emergency situations with an investment of 15 million euros. This money will be used to fund school books in Yemen or to support 60,000 children in Indonesia following the devastating tsunami, so that they can still be taught” said Müller.

Education Cannot Wait has reached more than 800,000 children and youth with quality education – of which 364,000 are girls – in 19 crisis-affected countries since it became operational in early 2017. With continued support from donors, the Fund, hosted by UNICEF, will exceed its target with over 1 million children by the end of 2018.

“This generous pledge further confirms the global role of Germany in showing compassion, generosity and concrete support to those furthest left behind. This funding will accelerate our determined joint efforts to reach 8.9 million children and youth in emergencies and protracted crisis by 2021 and fill the US$8.5 billion funding gap for education in crises” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

“The millions of children and youth silently struggling in crisis who do not have access to quality education today sustain themselves by dreaming of one. This renewed pledge from the government of Germany may be the realization of that dream. It signals a continued commitment to achieve our goals for equitable education for every boy and girl on the planet by 2030 as outlined in the sustainable development goals” she said.

Education Cannot Wait is the first and only global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises countries. In partnership with donors, UN agencies, civil society, national governments and other key actors, the Fund is pioneering a new way of working that establishes education as the point of convergence in the humanitarian-development nexus to rapidly deliver agile, well-coordinated and sustainable quality education through collective efforts for children and youth in war zones, emergency areas and other crisis hot spots.

Education Cannot Wait has invested $134.5 million in 19 crisis-affected countries to date. These include 16 First Emergency Response allocations to countries facing sudden-onset or escalating crises, such as a recently announced programme to support children impacted by the tsunami and earthquakes in Indonesia. Four countries have been targeted by Education Cannot Wait’s two-year Initial Investments Programmes to date. The Fund also recently announced its first seed funding to roll out innovative multi-year programmes in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda, while such mulit-year programmes are also planned in 20 other crisis-affected countries by 2021.

“By catalyzing agile, responsive and jointly planned programmes, education cannot wait ensures taxpayers’ money or strategic donor investments get to the people in need rapidly and sustainably,” Sherif said. “Education Cannot Wait brings all partners together to respond without delay and to remain until every child and young person have benefited from their non-negotiable right to quality education. Refugee, internally displaced or war-affected, both girls and boys, disabled and other-abled, make up the 75 million with a right to education in conflict and disasters. Thanks to Germany’s generous and continued contribution, their right, their dream, may come true.”

Children and youth in fragile and conflict affected countries are 30 per cent less likely to complete primary education and half as likely to complete lower-secondary education than other children. Indeed, conflict widens education inequalities, particularly gender and wealth disparities, derailing global efforts to build a more peaceful world.

“For a little over a $100 a year, a child or an adolescent living and growing up in the abnormal and testing circumstances of conflict and disasters will be able to get the quality education they deserve and need to give them hope, to give them a future,” said Sherif. “Now is the time to invest in these children and youth. Their education cannot wait. If our intention is to make a difference, we need to act today. Because, tomorrow might be too late.”

Contacts for the press:

Education Cannot Wait: Ms. Anouk Desgroseilliers,  +1 917 640-6820

German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development:


Notes to Editors:

Information on the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) Fund is available at:

For more details on ECW’s donors and partners:

German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development:

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