CATALYTIC INVESTMENTS TO SUPPORT QUALITY EDUCATION FOR 9 MILLION CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN THE WORLD’S WORST HUMANITARIAN CRISES
13 June 2019, New York – Education Cannot Wait and its partners are launching the “Act 4 Education in Crisis” campaign calling on governments, private sector companies, philanthropic foundations and global leaders to rise and support the Fund’s efforts to mobilize $1.8 billion by 2021 for 9 million children and youth living in the midst of war, forced displacement and disaster.
In times of crisis, education can play a life-saving and life-sustaining role. Yet, a large gap persists in funding for education in crisis, with just 2 to 4 per cent of annual humanitarian funding going to the education sector. This underfunding has left behind 75 million children whose education is disrupted by conflict, disaster and crisis.
Education Cannot Wait – a global fund for education in emergencies hosted by UNICEF – is filling this gap. Working with a wide range of partners, our investments provide speedy educational responses when a crisis erupts or escalates, while also linking humanitarian and development aid efforts to optimize collective efforts and ensure quality learning outcomes for children and youth in protracted crisis contexts.
“Girls and boys caught up in conflicts and crises endure abnormal circumstances of unspeakable violence, dispossession and disruption to their young lives. Their will to survival compels them to develop extraordinary resilience in coping with these sudden or chronic circumstances,” said Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif. “If we who are spared their suffering act generously now by investing in their intellectual, social and emotional development through continued quality education, we can protect them, and help them transform their experiences and scars into creativity, knowledge and productivity, and may even open the doors for a new generation that is empowered to bring positive change.”
Education Cannot Wait’s new Case for investment in Quality Education in Crisis lays out the urgency and the value of investing in the education of children in crisis-affected countries as one of the soundest investment in human and socio-economic development and in peace and stability to make today. It is endorsed by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the Fund’s High-Level Steering Group, Rt Hon Gordon Brown, development ministers, education ministers of crisis-affected countries, Heads of UN agencies, private sector partners and philanthropists, global education ambassadors and civil society partners.
“Hope dies when a child or young person is unable to plan and prepare for the future, and it is up to us to keep hope alive. So, let us bridge this gap between humanitarian and development aid. Let us fund humanitarian aid in education properly. Let us ensure Education Cannot Wait has the funds to support and facilitate coordinated education responses in all the conflict areas of the world,” said Gordon Brown.
Around the globe, hundreds of civil society organizations are rallying behind the “Act for Education in Crisis” campaign.
“Across the world children affected by crises tell us that education is the key to their futures, their safety, their health and their happiness, and that it cannot be delayed. We call upon donors to urgently support the education of girls and boys, including forcibly displaced children, caught up in humanitarian crises by fully funding Education Cannot Wait so that it can provide quality, inclusive and safe education to 9 million children and youth annually by 2021,” said a coalition of civil society organizations in a joint statement issued today.
Since it became operational in 2017, Education Cannot Wait has reached 1.4 million children. This includes close to half a million refugees and over 200,000 internally displaced children and youth. Half of all the children reached by the Fund are girls.
For Aisha, a 16-year-old refugee girl in Chad who fled Nigeria after a Boko Haram attack on her village, this is the difference between the hope of becoming one day a doctor and a life of marginalization. For 12-year-old Zakaria in Syria, this means an opportunity to continue his schooling and hang on to the dream of a better future despite the conflict raging in his country.
By raising $673 million by 2021, the Education Cannot Wait Global Trust Fund responds to new sudden onset crises, such as the recent devastation caused by Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa or the escalating Venezuela crisis. The Fund also supports multi-year educational responses with a target of 25 priority countries affected by protracted crises to provide hope and opportunities to 9 million children like Aisha and Zakaria. These groundbreaking programmes, launched with Education Cannot Wait’s seed-funding allocations, need to catalyze an additional $1.2 billion in co-financing at the country level.
To date, Education Cannot Wait has mobilized over $344 million from 15 generous public and private donors. With the launch of the “Act 4 Education in Crisis” campaign, the Fund builds on its first two years initial success, deepening the support of existing partners and calling on new donors to join the partnership.
“Our strategic donor partners are generously and steadfastly seeking to meet the challenge but much more remains to be done,” says Sherif. “By working together and investing about $113 per child per year, we can empower the next generation of leaders. When we invest in the human mind, when learning is achieved, it cannot be taken away or destroyed. Indeed, a good education is all that is left when all else crumbles.”
Learn more about the “Act for Education in Crisis” #Act4Ed campaign and its supporters: www.act4educationincrisis.org
Download the Education Cannot Wait’s Case for Investment in Quality Education In Crisis here.
The joint statement by civil society partners is available here.
EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES BY THE NUMBERS*
- 30%. Children and youth in fragile and conflict affected countries are 30 per cent less likely to complete primary education.
- 50%. Children and youth in fragile and conflict affected countries are 50 per cent less likely to complete lower-secondary education.
- 5X. Girls in crisis settings are 2.5 times more likely to be out of primary school than boys.
- 90%. Girls in crisis settings are 90 per cent more likely to be out of secondary school than those living in countries where there is no crisis.
- 39 Million. An estimated 39 million girls caught up in war, disasters and crisis need urgent educational support.
- $15-30 Trillion. The World Bank estimates that if every girl worldwide were to receive 12 years of quality schooling, irrespective of whether there’s a crisis or not, their lifetime earnings could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion.
SOCIAL MEDIA KIT
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Notes to Editors
About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):
ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure. Additional information is available at www.educationcannotwait.org
For press enquiries, contact: Anouk Desgroseilliers, email@example.com , +1 917 640-6820
For any other enquiries, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q&A WITH EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT DIRECTOR YASMINE SHERIF ON AFGHANISTAN PROGRAMME LAUNCH
Q&A WITH EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT DIRECTOR YASMINE SHERIF ON AFGHANISTAN PROGRAMME LAUNCH
Why is education important for Afghanistan?
While Afghanistan is making progress in improving access to education, approximately 3.7 million children remain out of school. 2017 saw nearly half a million newly displaced people in Afghanistan, as well as an influx of over 600,000 Afghans returning from Iran and Pakistan. Droughts connected with climate change and other conflicts are pushing more people to migrate and undermining efforts to get more children in school.
More than half of returnee girls and boys are currently out of school due to the lack of capacity of schools to enroll additional children, lack of required documentation to facilitate enrollment, cost factors, and language, gender and cultural barriers.
Education is an essential building block in Afghanistan’s progress toward peace, security and sustainable economic development. Education brings empowerment and enlightenment. We can’t afford to lose another generation to war, conflict and displacement.
Tell us about the new programme
The three-year programme will target the most vulnerable children in Afghanistan, with a particular focus on girls, internally displaced children, and returnee refugee communities. Education Cannot Wait and the Government of Sweden have provided the seed funding to get this programme started, and get Afghanistan’s children back in school, with US$12 million in funding from Education Cannot Wait and a generous US$10 million grant from the government of Sweden.
It will be implemented and managed through a broad coalition of international organizations, national and international NGOs, and representatives from the national government and civil society. Key partners include the Afghan Ministry of Education, IOM, OCHA, OHCHR, UNAMA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, the World Bank and Education Cannot Wait, alongside National and International NGOs such as Save The Children, Norwegian Refugee Council and International Rescue Committee.
The programme builds on the progress made through Education Cannot Wait’s US$3.4 million first emergency response, which focused on access to basic education for the most vulnerable children – returnees, internally displaced children, girls, children in isolated rural areas – through community-based education, providing teaching and learning materials, and teacher training and recruitment.
Up to US$35 million will be required annually from international donors and national entities to cover the full cost of the multi-year programme. We are calling on the global community to step up and be counted. Funding education in Afghanistan isn’t just the right thing to do for our global humanity, it will also power our work to end poverty and hunger by 2030, and ensure universal access to education for every girl and boy in Afghanistan. Our work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal 4, which calls for equitable access to education for every girl and boy on the planet by 2030, cannot be compromised. Education cannot wait for an entire generation of Afghan children that risk being left behind.
What impacts are anticipated on the ground from this programme?
In a country where a lack of female teachers and cultural biases have severely limited educational opportunities for girls, the investment will recruit, train and provide financial support for 14,000 teachers, over 60 per cent of whom will be women. It will also set up 2,500 gender-sensitive water and sanitation facilities, and build an awareness campaign to reach over 150,000 people.
Through this joint work, the programme looks to improve numeracy, literacy and educational resilience for children by 10 per cent, increase school attendance by 30 percent to get 460,000 girls and boys back in school, and nearly triple the number of existing primary and pre-primary learning spaces from 5760 (2017) to 16,500. The investment will also provide learning materials, such as textbooks and notebooks, to 500,000 children, including 325,000 girls.
Distance and danger hinder access to schools in Afghanistan, especially for girls. The investment will provide transport for 40,000 children to educational facilities, including 26,000 girls.
With so many returnee and displaced children, special emphasis will be paid to helping integrate children into the education system. To get children back on track, over a quarter million displaced girls and boys will be supported in obtaining documentation and school certification, and catch-up classes in Dari and Pashto languages will be extended to some 276,000 children.
How will this programme work to close the gender gap?
In Afghanistan, education is largely delivered along gender lines, with very few mixed-gender schools. And a lack of girls-only schools and female teachers provides a significant barrier to education for the 2.2 million girls that are still left behind. That’s more than the total population of Qatar and Luxembourg combined.
The Ministry of Education has just recently launched its Girls’ Education Policy specifically to remove barriers to education for all Afghan girls and women, to close the gender gap in the school enrollment of girls and boys, and to bring out-of-school girls into the education system.
In alignment with this policy, the programme will focus on a wide spectrum of actions, such as: creating safe school environments, including supporting community transport for girls to travel safely to school; supporting displaced girls and boys to obtain documentation and schooling certification; implementing community-based education to reach children, especially girls, in rural and isolated areas; developing and rolling-out distance learning packages for hard-to-reach locations and communities, such as radio education programmes, self-learning materials; and providing training to 20,000 teachers, especially female teachers.
What has Education Cannot Wait achieved so far in Afghanistan?
This new multi-year investment will scale-up and accelerate Education Cannot Wait’s initial US$3.4 million 12-month investment in Afghanistan announced in June 2017. This rapid response programme aimed to provide immediate relief to children in need of educational support. It focused on access to basic education for the most vulnerable children – Afghan returnees, internally displaced children, host community children, girls, children in rural and isolated areas – through community-based education, providing teaching and learning materials, and teacher training and recruitment.
The programme successfully reached 35,000 children, including 59 per cent girls, providing them with access to formal and non-formal education, including community-based education. Through this programme, Education Cannot Wait partnered with a local NGO, Wadan, to reach children in the most head to reach areas. For example, through this local partner, we were able to recruit and train a female biology teacher in a community of displaced people in Radat. With a new biology teacher, some 40 girls have returned to class. We were also able to provide hope and a sense of normalcy to children who fled violence in the Nangarhar’s Achin District. We provided these uprooted children with sense of normalcy and restored hope thanks to the community school we set up in displaced people settlements.
Education Cannot Wait is determined to mainstream and accelerate these successes to reach more of Afghanistan’s vulnerable girls and boys and support the government in providing long-term solution to integrate them into the education system.
IN SOMALIA, EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND INTERSOS LOOK TOWARD SAFE DRINKING WATER AND SCHOOL MEALS TO GET CHILDREN BACK IN SCHOOL
Nadifa Ibrahim picks up her hammer and strikes down on the chalk white stones at the quarry where she works with her family and other children displaced by Somalia’s years of civil war, drought and poverty. This seemingly un-ending crisis has displaced 1 million school-aged children and left an estimated 3.4 million girls and boys out of school.
Nadifa’s 12-year-old hands are hardly big enough to hold the hammer – and she makes less per day than the bigger boys and adults who are able to smash bigger stones – but in order to survive and support the family she needs to work.
Nadifa isn’t alone. Most of Somalia’s internally displaced children are out of school because they need to work to feed themselves and their families, or they need to spend a big chunk of their days fetching water or simply scavenging for food.
To make things even more complicated, these children living far from their homes face ever-increasing risks of child marriage, sexual assault and recruitment into armed groups.
These destabilizing forces are like a ticking time bomb that threatens the future of an entire generation.
Over the last year, violence and instability fueled a sharp increase in the number of displaced people in Baidoa District, where the majority of Somalia’s displacement camps are found. In the Diinsor District – largely controlled by the extremist group Al Shabaab – the situation is even more dire. There are no secondary schools and only two primary schools available to educate and protect the growing influx of displaced children. Food and safe drinking water are hard to come by, and 1.5 million people face acute food insecurity.
SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR COMPLEX CHALLENGES
Getting children like Nadifa out of the quarry and back in school requires a unique approach that looks not just at access to education, but also at the intersections of conflict, crises, poverty and hunger, and the root causes that force children into the quarries, into armed groups and out of school.
To reach these children, Education Cannot Wait partnered with the Italian humanitarian organization Intersos in a fast-acting 12-month first emergency educational response programme designed to expand access to quality education services for the children of the Baidoa and Diinsor Districts and enhance community coping mechanisms and resilience to crisis.
The project came to a close in August 2018, increasing school enrollment by 13 per cent for boys and 17 per cent for girls, and reaching 4787 children in all, 41% of whom were girls. In Somalia, fewer than 50 per cent of girls attend primary school, and the last countrywide survey from 2006 showed that only 25 per cent of women aged 15 to 24 were literate.
REVERSING THE CYCLE
Now there’s a chance to reverse this cycle, and Nadifa, and other children like her, are back in school, and no longer need to work in the quarry.
Mohamed Nur is an 11-year-old boy that worked in the quarry. His hands are blistered and aged from his time blasting rocks apart with a hammer. With support from the investment, Mohamed is back in school and has a brighter outlook on life.
“At least the pen is softer than the hammer,” the affable boy jokes. “I never ever want to go back to the quarry again, I felt bad seeing other children go to school, but there was nothing I could do.”
A MEAL PER DAY
Unlike many schools in Somalia, the schools for displaced children supported by Education Cannot Wait are free. Through the investment, the children also receive a warm, healthy meal each day – sometimes the only food they will get. The delivery of food is managed by the headmasters, to ensure food doesn’t go missing, and to provide an incentive to keep children in school.
The investment also set up innovative water and hygiene programmes that support healthier children and easier access to safe drinking water. Safe drinking water is being delivered in 13 schools through the investment. Project personnel indicate that three months after the project close, the water trucks, donkey carts, and permanent connections to water systems are still working. Hand-washing stations and girls-only latrines were also developed.
“Educating girls is educating a nation,” said Isaq Abdi Hussein, head teacher at the Warsan school for displaced children. “Many girls and boys were unable to attend school, due to poverty, but with the introduction of school feeding, the school enrolment has significantly improved.”
REVERSING THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
To deal with the scars of displacement and early childhood trauma, the children have access to improved psycho-social support from teachers that have received advance training through the programme and also receive a US$100 monthly stipend.
“These schools have saved the lives of many children. Their future was uncertain, and this is how they become vulnerable to abuse and bad elements in the community who enlist them in armed conflict. But now they are settled in school and this is also good for us as a community,” said Ibrahim Adan Ali, head teacher at the Al-Amin school.
KEEPING CHILDREN IN SCHOOL
To entice families to send their children to school, the investment created a “back to school” campaign that included community forums, home visits and sensitization on the value of education, especially for girls and children with special needs. Learning materials and books were also distributed, along with the introduction of other recreational activities designed to make learning fun and engaging.
Education stakeholders in Somalia are currently developing a multi-year resilience programme funding proposal for Education Cannot Wait. This programme will build on the success of this first emergency response and other Education Cannot Wait-funded investment and ensure that gains made so far are not lost.
Nadifa dreams of taking her new chance at an education and paying it forward.
“I would like to be a teacher so that I educate as many girls as possible. I have also told my friends in the quarry to come to school as there is everything we need to learn,” said Nadifa.
Also available in Italian on the Intersos website.
Justin van Fleet is the Director of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity & Chief Advisor to Theirworld.
When Education Cannot Wait was established, its founders knew there was an immediate issue which needed solved: systematically, education was not seriously included in humanitarian response plans and the link between emergencies and longer-term development was missing. A new way of working was necessary.
GENEROUS CONTRIBUTION FROM CANADA TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO EDUCATION FOR GIRLS LIVING IN CRISIS AND EMERGENCIES
2 December 2018, New York – The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, announced a significant new CAD$50 million (US$38 million) pledge to Education Cannot Wait during today’s Global Citizen Festival in South Africa.
The Government of Canada stressed that its contribution will “improve children’s education in countries facing humanitarian emergencies and crises” and that “investing in education, especially in crisis situations, empowers girls and prepares them for the future”.
This new pledge from Canada to Education Cannot Wait tops up its initial US$15 million contribution for a total of US$53 million in contributions to date. Canada is now the second-largest donor to the Fund.
The funding will provide much-needed gender-responsive education for girls living in the midst of crisis, in war zones, in refugee camps, in displacement and in emergencies settings.
Canada’s pledge marks an important milestone as leaders from the G7 step up efforts to deliver on the commitments of this year’s Charlevoix Declaration, which promises to increase equal access to quality education for girls and women.
In the declaration, G7 leaders underscored the value of a quality education for girls in crisis settings to “promote peace and security and drive improved health and life outcomes” and committed to “continue investing in girls’, adolescent girls’ and women’s quality education in developing countries, including in emergencies and in conflict-affected and fragile states”.
“Canada’s pledge sends a clear signal to the world that girls and adolescent girls everywhere can no longer be left behind, that they deserve equal access to education and opportunities. Today, Canada, together with the broad coalition of Education Cannot Wait’s partners, is telling the world that girls matter. We are telling the world that education cannot wait for the 39 million girls living in war and disaster that don’t have the opportunity to go to class, learn and thrive,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.
Education Cannot Wait, a new global fund for education in crisis and emergencies hosted by UNICEF, seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to provide access to safe, reliable, quality education for 8.9 million children – half of whom will be girls – enduring some of the worst possible human conditions on the planet.
Girls and adolescent girls living in crisis are often excluded from education. They are 2.5 times more likely to be out of primary school and 90 per cent more likely to be out of secondary school than those living in countries where there is no crisis. Girls’ access to quality education in conflict and crises settings helps to protect them against the risks of childhood marriage and early pregnancies, sexual assault and gender-based violence.
Notes to Editors:
For more information on Education Cannot Wait, visit: www.educationcannotwait.org
For press enquiries, contact:
Ms. Anouk Desgroseilliers,
email@example.com, +1 917 640-6820
About Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
Education Cannot Wait 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
LE GOUVERNEMENT DU CANADA ANNONCE UNE CONTRIBUTION DE 38 MILLIONS DE DOLLARS USD AU FONDS EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT
LA CONTRIBUTION GÉNÉREUSE DU CANADA RENFORCERA L’ACCÈS À L’ÉDUCATION DES FILLES ET ADOLESCENTES VIVANT DANS LES PAYS EN CRISE
2 décembre 2018, New York – Le premier ministre du Canada, Justin Trudeau, a annoncé une nouvelle contribution de 50 millions de dollars CA (38 millions dollars USD) au fonds Education Cannot Wait dans le cadre du Global Citizen Festival aujourd’hui en Afrique du Sud.
Le gouvernement du Canada a souligné que cette contribution va « améliorer l’éducation des enfants dans les pays touchés par des urgences et des crises humanitaires » et « qu’investir dans l’éducation, surtout en situation de crise, renforce le pouvoir des filles et les prépare pour l’avenir. »
Cette nouvelle contribution du gouvernement du Canada à Education Cannot Wait s’ajoute à sa contribution initiale de 15 millions de dollars USD pour un total de 53 millions de dollars USD à ce jour, hissant le Canada au deuxième rang des plus importants donateurs du Fonds.
Le financement permettra d’assurer un accès équitable des filles et adolescentes vivant dans des zones touchées par les guerres et les crises humanitaires, dans des camps de réfugiés ou en situation de déplacement interne, à une éducation qui leur fait cruellement défaut. Le tout, à travers des programmes d’éducation prenant en compte la dimension genre.
Cette contribution du Canada constitue une étape importante dans les efforts des dirigeants du G7 pour tenir les engagements pris dans la Déclaration de Charlevoix plus tôt cette année. Le texte promet d’accroître l’égalité de l’accès à une éducation de qualité pour les filles et les femmes.
Dans la Déclaration, les dirigeants du G7 ont souligné l’importance d’une éducation de qualité pour les filles vivant dans des situations de conflits et crises: « une éducation de qualité favorise la paix et la sécurité et favorise l’amélioration de la santé et de la qualité de vie », ils se sont engagés à « investir dans une éducation de qualité pour les filles, les adolescentes et les femmes dans les pays en développement, y compris dans les États en situation d’urgence, en proie à des conflits et fragilisés. »
« La contribution du Canada est un signal clair pour le monde entier que les filles et les adolescentes ne peuvent plus être laissées pour compte, qu’elles méritent un accès égal à l’éducation et à des chances égales. Aujourd’hui, le Canada et la vaste coalition de partenaires du fonds Education Cannot Wait, disent au monde entier que les filles sont importantes. Nous disons que l’éducation des 39 millions de filles et adolescentes qui sont dans des situations de guerre et de catastrophes et n’ont pas la possibilité d’aller en classe, d’apprendre et de s’épanouir ne peut pas attendre », a déclaré Yasmine Sherif, Directrice de Education Cannot Wait.
Education Cannot Wait est un nouveau fonds mondial pour l’éducation dans les situations de crise et d’urgences. Le Fonds, hébergé par l’UNICEF, cherche à mobiliser 1,8 milliard de dollars USD d’ici 2021 afin de fournir un accès à une éducation fiable, de qualité et dans un environnement protecteur à 8,9 millions d’enfants – dont une moitié sont des filles – vivant dans des conditions parmi les plus difficiles sur la planète.
Dans les situations de crises engendrées par les guerres et les catastrophes, les filles et les adolescentes ont un accès plus limité à l’éducation. Elles sont 2,5 fois plus susceptibles de ne pas fréquenter l’école primaire et 90 % plus susceptibles de ne pas fréquenter l’école secondaire que les filles dans les pays où il n’y a pas de crise. Un meilleur accès à une éducation de qualité aide à les protéger contre les risques accrus de mariages et grossesses précoces, d’agressions sexuelles et de violences basées sur le genre.
Pour plus d’informations sur Education Cannot Wait, visitez: www.educationcannotwait.org
Contact pour la presse:
firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 917 640-6820
À propos du fonds Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
Education Cannot Wait (« L’Éducation ne peut attendre ») est le premier fonds mondial dédié à l’éducation en situation d’urgence. Il a été lancé par des acteurs internationaux de l’aide humanitaire et du développement, ainsi que des donateurs publics et privés, pour répondre aux besoins éducatifs urgents de 75 millions d’enfants et adolescents touchés par des situations de conflits et de crises. Les modalités d’investissement du Fonds visent à instaurer une approche plus collaborative entre les acteurs sur le terrain, en veillant à ce que les acteurs humanitaires et de développement unissent leurs forces pour obtenir des résultats en matière d’éducation.
Providing education for girls and adolescent girls living in crisis and conflict is the single most powerful act we can take to empower a marginalized gender. As a global community committed to end violence against women, promote women leadership and ensure universal access to education, anything less would miss the target.
Providing education for girls and adolescent girls living in crisis and conflict is the single most powerful act we can take to empower a marginalized gender. As a global community committed to end violence against women, promote women leadership and ensure universal access to education, anything less would miss the target.
Providing access to safe, reliable and continuous education for girls and adolescent girls living in crisis is an essential stepping stone to eliminating violence against girls and women. It takes quality education to ensure that girls and adolescent girls are empowered to acquire new skills to thrive, exercise leadership and find productive employment in the fast-evolving work environment of the 21st Century. It also mitigates the risks for abuse and discrimination, while strengthening the odds for increased security, better opportunities and new chances to chart their lives forward.
Education Cannot Wait – a new global fund hosted by UNICEF – which will provide access to 8.9 million children living in crisis by 2021, including over 4.4 million girls – is making great strides to protect girls from violence across the globe by working with governments, leading non-profits, donors and other essential stakeholders to empower access to education for the millions of girls and adolescent girls living in refugee camps and displacement centers, and on the edge of crisis, war zones and emergencies.
To empower girls and adolescent girls, the ECW Fund is strengthening equity and gender equality, increasing access to education, promoting safe and protective learning environments, improving learning and skills for teachers, and ensuring greater continuity and sustainability for gender-responsive education responses in crisis settings.
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, such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh (Rohingya), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Ukraine, since it became operational in early 2017. With continued support from donors, the Fund will exceed its target with over 1 million children by the end of 2018.
ORANGE THE WORLD
“On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls – and the connected 16 Days of Activism Campaign – Education Cannot Wait is banding together with global leaders, UN Agencies, leading education advocates, and girls and adolescent girls everywhere to highlight the need for real quality education for young girls in crisis as a key means to ending abuse, discrimination and disempowerment,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.
The facts around violence against girls and women – especially girls and adolescent girls living in crisis – are simply astounding. Girls in crisis settings are 2.5 times more likely to be out of primary school and 90 per cent more likely to be out of secondary school than those living in countries where there is no crisis. Analysis from 2015 indicates that 39 million girls were out of school or had their education disrupted because of war and disaster.
By providing vulnerable girls and adolescent girls with education, empowering female teachers, strengthening protection and promoting policies that connect gender-responsive approaches to education in emergencies, Education Cannot Wait bridges the humanitarian-development divide, particularly in protracted crises, and links urgent humanitarian needs to sustainable and systemic change.
“For girls and adolescent girls enduring crisis and conflict, we have to be especially firm and principled in our approach, because they are also subject to additional discrimination simply because of their gender. The best we can do to serve them is to deliver on our promise of quality education, which also entails protection and targeted measures to ensure access, equality and continuity,” said Sherif.
BRIDGING THE GAP TO PREVENT VIOLENCE
Integrated responses are required to build safer schools – some schools in refugee camps, displacement centers and on the edge of conflict and emergencies have become targets for violent attacks, while others have seen reports of sexual violence against both boys and girls.
In Afghanistan, Chad and Ethiopia, Education Cannot Wait funding has helped spur a comprehensive combination of interventions focused on training teachers, community engagement, protection measures and the rehabilitation and construction of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for girls.
In Afghanistan 2.2 million girls lack adequate teaching facilities and women teachers – that’s more people than live in Botswana today. With support from Education Cannot Wait and a new three-year programme that will reach over 500,000 children, including a quarter of a million girls, teachers are being recruited and trained to work in refugee and displacement camps.
“Teaching these girls is a wonderful opportunity for me. I am also glad to see that many girls are encouraged to resume their classes when female teachers are available,” said Ms. Paria, whose class has seen 40 girls return to school thanks to the recruitment of their new biology teacher as well as extended community activism to ensure more equitable education.
In the Lake Chad Region, where 3.5 million children are at risk and violent attacks on girls, forced marriages and abductions are commonplace, Education Cannot Wait has already reached over 100,000 girls.
For bright-eyed dreamers like the 16-year-old Aisha who lives in the Dar es Salam Camp in Chad, new educational opportunities provide a renewed sense of security.
“”Here in Dar es Salam [camp], we have food to eat, we go to school, we play with friends, we feel safe,” said Aisha.
THE GLOBAL CONTEXT
The Education Cannot Wait Gender strategy aligns with the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies, formally launched in 2013 by the United Kingdom and Sweden, key donors to the Education Cannot Wait Fund. Ongoing gender-responsive initiatives also align with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action and its Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings, as well as the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Minimum Standards for Education.
By 2021, Education Cannot Wait plans to reach 8.9 million children living in crisis. Approximately 50 percent of these children will be girls and adolescent girls, with plans for two-thirds of teacher training to be directed to females. That means over 4.4 million girls – more than the total population of Gabon and Slovenia combined – will have the knowledge, power and skills training they need to stand up against violence and build a better world for generations to come.
Education Cannot Wait provides a new path for women teachers and community leaders, opening up re-envisioned learning opportunities for girls living on the edge of crisis
Education is enlightenment. It’s what will take girls out of the darkness to empower a future generation of dynamic women leaders, and to build the skills girls need to control their destinies.
For this year’s International Day of the Girl, the world will turn its eyes to building a “Skilled GirlForce.” In places like Afghanistan, where classes are largely divided by gender and women still have limited access to education – no matter where they live, be it a refugee camp in Rodat or the better-off suburbs of the capital – empowering women teachers is a key step to delivering equitable, gender-balanced education for girls living in crisis and ensuring no girl is left behind in our global efforts to provide inclusive and equitable access to quality education for everyone.
Without female teachers, Afghani girls could easily fall through the cracks. Education Cannot Wait, along with a powerful coalition of international actors, the Government of Afghanistan, and local leaders and teachers, are making positive first steps in rebuilding a pathway to education and skills training for the girls left behind by a protracted crisis that cost millions of lives and pushed women and girls to the margins.
Afghanistan’s education system has been devastated by more than three decades of sustained conflict, according to UNICEF. For many of the country’s children, completing primary school remains a distant dream – especially in rural areas and for girls – despite recent progress in raising enrolment.
In all, UNICEF estimates that 3.7 million children are out of school in Afghanistan – 60% of them are girls. That’s 2.2 million girls left behind because of war and lack of adequate teaching facilities and women teachers.
On a positive note, education enrolment as a whole in Afghanistan is rising. In 1999, not a single girl was enrolled at the secondary level, and only 9,000 girls were enrolled in primary school. By 2003, 2.4 million girls were enrolled in school, and by 2013, gross enrolment for girls rose to approximately 35 percent.
In Afghanistan, education is largely delivered along gender lines, with very few mixed-gender schools. And a lack of girls-only schools and female teachers, provides a significant barrier to education for the 2.2 million girls that are still left behind.
As of right now, only 16 percent of Afghanistan’s schools are girls-only, and many of them lack proper sanitation facilities, which further hinders attendance, according to UNICEF. Deeply rooted cultural norms, socio-cultural factors, traditional beliefs and poverty all contribute to undermine education for girls. Significantly, girls continue to get married at an early age (17 percent are married before the age of 15 and approximately 46 percent of girls are married before the age of 18).
To address this issue, and increase access to education for girls in Afghanistan, Education Cannot Wait is supporting initiatives to empower women as community leaders and bring female teachers to remote areas.
By providing education to girls, these brave teachers are key to making a difference in the development trajectory of their country. This will prepare girls to enter the workforce, take part in civic life and regain control of their futures.
FEMALE TEACHERS ARE KEY
Only a third of Afghanistan’s teachers are women, providing a significant hurdle for education and undermining efforts to build lasting skills that will empower this future generation – this GirlForce as it is aptly named in this year’s International Day of the Girl Child – to enter the workforce and chart new pathways for women and girls everywhere.
At the Hisar Shahi displacement center in Rodat, for example, there was a significant lack of female teachers, particularly for biology.
“In conservative Afghan culture it is considered inappropriate for a male teacher to teach girls subjects such as biology that involve images of body parts and terminology that only a woman should speak about to girls,” explained a Malik (community leader) in a meeting with the Welfare Association For the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN), an implementing partner delivering education for children living in crisis in Afghanistan with the support of ECW. Along with WADAN, Education Cannot Wait has also partnered with the International Rescue Committee and Save the Children to mobilize education for children living in crisis in Afghanistan.
To solve this problem, community stakeholders went to Maliks, community elders and religious leaders to come up with an answer. They agreed that the lack of qualified teachers, especially for biology, was creating a significant bottleneck and keeping girls out of school.
The community set about looking for a new female biology teacher, a hard-enough task in a country where just four out of ten children attend secondary school and less than half the population between 15 and 24 is literate.
Then came Ms. Paria, who had studied sciences, chemistry and biology at Nangarhar University. Ms. Paria set about teaching biology for the girls living in the Hisar Shahi displacement center, and has become a ray of hope for girls living there.
“Teaching these girls is a wonderful opportunity for me. I am also glad to see that many girls are encouraged to resume their classes when female teachers are available,” said Ms. Paria.
In all, some 40 girls have returned to class with their new biology teacher.
It’s a small success, but an essential starting point to ensure access to education for girls across the country. To scale-up and replicate these successful pilot initiatives, ECW recently announced a new three-year programme in Afghanistan that will reach over 500,000 children. The US$150 million programme, starting with the US$12 million allocation from ECW, will create an inclusive teaching and learning environment, improve continuity of education, and create safer and more protective learning environments, with a target of 50 per cent of programme support going towards girls’ access to quality education.
Women are also stepping in as community leaders and organizers, through ECW investment, leading the delivery of equitable and quality education.
Saima is a resident of Merano Tapo village in the Behsood District of Nangarhar Province and a teacher by profession. Saima is a devoted advocate for Afghan women’s rights and has a history of speaking out for women.
During a workshop with religious scholars, community elders, civil society activists and other teachers, Saima spoke out to mobilize more education opportunities for girls living in Merano Tapo.
“I work for girls to motivate their parents to send their girls to schools,” Saima said.
Following the workshop, Saima organized a number of women into small groups assigned to various sections of the village, and asked them to start a campaign to connect with families and promote education for girls living in the village. In the most remote corners of Afghanistan, 87 percent of girls are excluded from education.
With Saima in the lead, and substantial political and social backing behind her from the community she had organized, more than 50 families agreed to send their girls to class.
Thanks to Saima’s community activism, 10-year-old Asma is now attending a school supported through Education Cannot Wait.
“Suddenly and unexpectedly seven women arrived at my house. I was surprised and to be honest I was a bit scared; I did not know why they came. I knew only one of them, but they introduced themselves and asked my wife and me to relax and listen to their team leader,” said Asma’s father, Abdul Wali. “She talked about the importance of education for women. By the end of her presentation both of us decided to allow our daughter to go to school. We are happy and believe we have made a good decision.”
Education heroes like Saima and Ms. Paria – bold women who are breaking boundaries to bring education to Afghanistan’s girls – are a great force and example in mobilizing women teachers across the globe. Along with support from governments, donors, civil society and international funds such as Education Cannot Wait, these education heroes will be the driving force in building a “Skilled GirlForce” and empowering women and girls everywhere.
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.