AS HOTELS OPEN FOR TOURISTS ON THE GREEK ISLANDS, BOOKS SHOULD OPEN FOR CHILDREN

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many different issues across societies, while further exacerbating disparity and inequity by driving millions of already vulnerable people even further to the margins. Nowhere is this more evident than the Greek Islands where thousands upon thousands of refugee children are forgotten – and downright ignored – by the international community.

Photo © Theirworld

By Justin van Fleet, President, Theirworld & Executive Director, Global Business Coalition for Education

While it may be a different summer than most – with precautions in place to stave off the coronavirus pandemic – Greece is opening up for tourists.  Starting on 15 June, travel restrictions were lifted and tourists were able to begin going to their favorite islands to soak up the sun.  While this is a good thing for the Greek economy, it underscores an even deeper crisis of humanity: disparity and inequity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many different issues across societies, while further exacerbating disparity and inequity by driving millions of already vulnerable people even further to the margins.  Nowhere is this more evident than the Greek Islands where thousands upon thousands of refugee children are forgotten – and downright ignored – by the international community.

Unlike tourists getting ready to visit, over 42,000 refugees did not travel to Greece on chartered flights or ferries.  Instead, they were forced by circumstance to make a dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea, in many cases fleeing violence and risking drowning and death in hope of a better future.  Instead, many have found themselves in what can only be described as a ‘hell on earth’ confined to overcrowded camps in the Greek Aegean islands, their point of entry to Europe.

When I visited the Moria Camp in Greece last year with Theirworld’s Chair, Sarah Brown, Education Cannot Wait’s Director Yasmine Sherif and the People Postcode Lottery Country Director Annemiek Hoogenboom, I was horrified by the conditions. What was intended to be a temporary shelter for 2,500 refugees is now one such ‘hell on earth’ for nearly 20,000 people – the many of them children and unaccompanied minors.  Open sewage, no running water, lack of tents or proper shelters and reports of violence against women and adolescents.  These were just some of the things we heard and saw.

In humanitarian crises, children are the most vulnerable group – and education is often the first institutional victim – further exacerbating their vulnerability.  For the 31,000 refugee children in Greece, and about 10,000 on the Islands where less than 15% have any access to education –this is certainly the case. Creating school spaces for 10,000 children doesn’t require rocket science.  Neither is integrating the additional refugee children on the mainland into the education system. Many countries have done so against far greater odds (e.g. Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, for instance, who have done so with millions (not thousands), of refugees.

With political will and sufficient financing, doing so is a relatively easy and cost-effective process – with many successful examples from around the world having proved this already, offering excellent guidance and lessons to learn from.  Research conducted across regions have proven without doubt that the benefits of doing so far outweigh any possible burden to society. In fact, investing in education is one of the soundest investments with the highest rate of return that any government can make, under virtually any situation.

The right to education – particularly for children in refugee contexts  –  is essential for a young child to develop, thrive and reach their full potential. It is also a humanitarian obligation recognized in the 1951 Refugee Convention, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and is enshrined in the humanitarian priorities stemming from the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

Photo © Theirworld

So why have too many have failed to listen?

The recently appointed European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, has stated that one of his top priorities is to support people in need as quickly as possible, with full respect of the humanitarian principles. And within the EU, there is an opportunity to quickly achieve this objective for vulnerable refugee children. The humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence boil down to the following: protecting and respecting individuals; prioritizing the most urgent cases of distress; making no distinctions based on nationality; and, taking timely action independent from political, economic or other objectives.

And it’s with the spirit of humanitarian principles that the Dutch Postcode Lottery and Theirworld have joined forces for these refugee children.  What I love about Education Cannot Wait is that it brings together diverse partners for a common purpose. In the absence of public funding, Theirworld  –  in partnership with the Dutch Postcode Lottery and Education Cannot Wait – – works alongside UNICEF, UNHCR and local NGOS to help thousands of these children realize their fundamental human right to education. By doing so, they are able to benefit from a sense of normalcy, learning and playing with their friends, and simply having a childhood with all the hope and dreams that come with it.

Our recent Theirworld report highlights a three-point action plan to effectively deliver refugee education in Greece:

  1. Mobilize an immediate €20 million in urgent financial support for 2020–2022, providing a scale up of education over two years.
  2. Cultivate international support for a comprehensive refugee education plan across Greece.
  3. Invest in the region and tackle the refugee problem closer to home.

Once again, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has stepped up to the plate so that existing education centres do not shut down this month. Their new, generous and urgently needed contribution will bridge the divide between in-person and remote learning opportunities, aiming to reach about 20,000 children with formal and distance learning, as well as in non-formal education centres adjusted to COVID-19 measures.  It will prepare education centres with preventative measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 upon reopening.  This will include hygiene and medical items.

Photo © Theirworld

But for this to be a true public-private partnership, it’s time for governments to step and do their part.

It has never been acceptable to hide, ignore or conveniently forget child and youth refugees in need of humanitarian assistance in Europe. We must work together now to provide them with the most basic, but important, humanitarian rights, including their inherent right to education, while the broader politics are sorted out.

Why? It is good for children, who can learn, grow, develop their skills to be prepared as productive members of society.  It is good for Greece, as increased funding will support Greek organizations and teachers, creating more jobs and fostering better relations between host and refugee communities. And it is good for Europe to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe within its borders which can be addressed with the right investment and commitment.

So, while many Europeans and other tourist begin to travel to Greece this week on holidays, let us not only remember to respect the dignity thousands of refugee children on the Islands, let us also take collective action to give them the education support they desperately need.

About the Author

Justin van Fleet is​ the President of the global children’s charity Theirworld and Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition for Education.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND PARTNERS PUT EDUCATION FIRST AT GLOBAL REFUGEE FORUM

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. 

Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait   @YasmineSherif1   @KentPage  

Additional information at: www.educationcannotwait.org and www.act4education.org

For press inquiries: please contact Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735

Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@educationcannotwait.org, +1-917-640-6820

For any other inquiries, please contact: info@educationcannotwait.org

 

GLOBAL CHARITY THEIRWORLD ANNOUNCES US$2.85 MILLION CONTRIBUTION TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, LAUNCHING INNOVATIVE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP

PRESS RELEASE

GLOBAL CHARITY THEIRWORLD ANNOUNCES US$2.85 MILLION CONTRIBUTION TO EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, LAUNCHING INNOVATIVE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP  

GENEROUS GRANT FROM THE DUTCH POSTCODE LOTTERY MAKES THEIRWORLD’S CONTRIBUTION POSSIBLE

5 March 2019, New York – The global charity Theirworld announced today a new US$2.85 million (2.52 million euros) contribution to Education Cannot Wait to support the rapid deployment of education assistance to refugee, displaced and vulnerable children caught in some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

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Amsterdam, 4 March 2019: The Chair of Theirworld, Sarah Brown, receiving a generous grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery at the annual Goed Geld Gala in Amsterdam.

This contribution was made possible through a US$3.57 million (3.15 million euros) grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery to Theirworld for the global charity to support education in emergencies which was announced at the annual Goed Geld Gala in Amsterdam on Monday. Theirworld will direct US$2.85 million (2.52 million euros) of this generous grant to be delivered in partnership with Education Cannot Wait, launching a unique public-private partnership between the lottery,  and Education Cannot Wait. As part of the new partnership, Theirworld’s Safe Schools Framework will provide guidance on how investments in safe schools and learning environments can be made more effective.

“We are more impactful by working together, and the award by the Dutch Postcode Lottery will allow us to not only deliver education to the most marginalised children, but leverage-up the funding through campaigning to have a multiplier effect for children,” said Sarah Brown, Chair of Theirworld.

Sara-Quote

Education Cannot Wait brings together a wide coalition of partners. Through the Fund’s innovative investment modalities, bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations and companies, governments, United Nations agencies and civil society organizations work together to mobilize new education financing and to deploy joint programmes that span across humanitarian and development aid sectors.

“The funding will be used to provide rapid education assistance in places where it is needed most” said Justin van Fleet, Theirworld’s President.  “This new partnership will allow us to support thousands of children living in refugee camps who are not in school – where we need to provide education quickly so they are not part of the lost generation – while we also finding the longer-term solutions so all children can reach their full potential.”

Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education & Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group (HLSG)
Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education & Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group (HLSG)

This contribution by Theirworld and the Dutch Postcode Lottery joins contributions by business partners through the Global Business Coalition for Education and Dubai Cares, another major education philanthropist. It is the second largest single private contribution to date to Education Cannot Wait – a new global fund that seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to provide access to education for girls and boys living in war zones, conflict and disasters. Some of Theirworld’s funding will be placed in challenge grants to be matched by other private contributors to multiply the impact.

Yasmine-quote

“We are profoundly grateful to Theirworld for this contribution to Education Cannot Wait, and to the Dutch Postcode Lottery for making this possible. This is an important signal for other private foundations looking to support educational initiatives. It sets an example for other donors to follow through and we hope to leverage this funding with additional public-private partnerships”, said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

Education Cannot Wait’s investments have already reached more than 1 million children in crisis such as the recent tsunami in Indonesia, escalating violence in North-East Nigeria, ongoing conflicts in Syria,  Afghanistan and the Central African Republic, and massive refugee influxes in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Uganda. However, much more remains to be done, with 75 million children in urgent need of educational support in emergencies and protracted crisis worldwide.

IMG_9588Sigrid Kaag, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation – Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait – Annemiek Hoogenboom, Country Director People’s Postcode Lottery – Sarah Brown, Chair of Theirworld – Sigrid van Aken, Chief Operating Officer of Novamedia and a member of the boards of the Dutch Postcode Lottery

“Education needs to be this generation’s moonshot and this funding from the Postcode Lottery will allow us to mobilise enough people, partners and resources so that every refugee child is at school” said van Fleet.  “We will look for the hardest to reach children in emergencies and keep a watching brief on all hotspots where children’s education is at risk – from the Greek Aegean Islands, Venezuela and Syria to the Central African Republic and beyond.”

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After years of campaigning, including by Theirworld’s cohort of 1,000 Global Youth Ambassadors, the Education Cannot Wait fund was established in 2016 at the World Humanitarian Summit to provide education to the millions of children and youth who have lost out on education because of war, disasters and crisis. The Fund’s investments focus on increasing access to quality and equitable education in safe and protective learning environments for the most marginalized and vulnerable children, with a special attention to girls, children with disabilities and minorities.

“It is thanks to the voices of young people across the world that education is becoming a global priority for all of humanity – regardless of borders. Education Cannot Wait will quickly translate this generous funding into concrete delivery of education to refugee and displaced children with our new partner Theirworld,” said Sherif.

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Notes to Editors:

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. For more information: www.educationcannotwait.org

Theirworld is a global charity which unleashes the potential of the next generation.  Every child deserves the best start in life, a safe school to learn in, and skills for the future.  We analyse complex systems to identify the barriers to progress and then use our tools of campaigning, innovation projects and partnership building to unlock the innovation, finance, political will and inclusion necessary to create change from the top down and bottom up.

The Global Business Coalition for Education, an initiative of Theirworld, serves as the business community’s social impact advisor, combining the expertise of education and business to develop customised programs and identify investments, partnerships, and opportunities that will have the greatest impact for children and youth.

The Nationale Postcode Loterij (The Dutch Postcode Lottery) is the biggest charity lottery in the Netherlands. Since the start in 1989, the Dutch Postcode Lottery has contributed over 5.5 billion euros to charity organisations dedicated to ‘people’ and ‘planet.’ It now supports 112 charities worldwide and plays a pioneering role in the quest for a fair and enterprising, green and responsible world.

For press enquiries, contact:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@educationcannotwait.org, +1 917 640-6820