World leaders today committed to expand education in emergency aid for children and youth impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – girls and boys already suffering the brunt of armed conflict, forced displacement, climate-change induced disasters and protracted crises – with a focus on the most marginalized, including girls, refugees and children with disabilities.

With new contributions from Germany, the United States, Norway and the Netherlands, the total funds mobilized to date by Education Cannot Wait surpass US$650 million.

17 September 2020, New York – World leaders today committed to expand education in emergency aid for children and youth impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – girls and boys already suffering the brunt of armed conflict, forced displacement, climate-change induced disasters and protracted crises – with a focus on the most marginalized, including girls, refugees and children with disabilities.

The new political and financial pledges were made during today’s global, high-level event “The Future of Education is Here for Those Left Furthest Behind”, organized by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) on the margins of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The event was co-hosted by Canada, Colombia, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Two dozen political leaders, policymakers, influencers and youth advocates took the stage during the event, including education ministers from Burkina Faso, Colombia, Ethiopia and Somalia, as well as youth and teachers from the Greek islands, Lebanon, the State of Palestine, Syria, Uganda and Venezuela. They stressed the urgent need to collaborate and redouble efforts to avoid losing hard-won gains and reversing the progress recorded in recent years in political commitment and financing for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, German Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, announced an additional contribution of 8 million euros (US$9.5 million) to ECW in 2020, commending the Fund’s rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months. “Thanks to ECW, partner countries have received urgently needed support very quickly. For many countries, it was the only support they received,” she said. “I hope that other partners will also commit more funding, because solidarity and cooperation are more important now than ever before if we want to ensure that we leave no one behind,” she added.

Working with a broad range of partners, ECW has disbursed over $60 million in emergency grants in 35 crisis-affected countries since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on reaching the most marginalized children and youth, including refugee, internally displaced and host communities girls and boys. ECW’s COVID-19 response encompasses the full scope of needs of a child’s well-being, including mental health and psychosocial support, and improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene and nutrition. Participants to the meeting stressed the importance of such a holistic approach to achieve education outcomes in crises.

“The United States strongly believes that education can be lifesaving and life-changing. That is why we are continuously striving to ensure that a focus on education is better incorporated into crisis responses around the globe and ensuring that the education provided also supports each child’s broader well-being,” said Carol Thompson O’Connell, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State, as she announced an additional contribution of $5 million to ECW.

More than 1.5 billion learners worldwide had their education disrupted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the coronavirus continues to upend entire communities, the economy, and social and education systems, children and youth who were already living in crisis settings are at particular risk of falling behind and being further marginalized. Out-of-school girls face increased risk of sexual violence, child marriage and early pregnancies. Children and youth living in extreme poverty, precarious conditions and forced displacement may never return to school – this is particularly true for refugee children and youth, and even more so for adolescent refugee girls.

“The story about how humanity handled COVID-19 is being written now – and education will figure in the conclusion. Let it not be the story of a lost generation – nor of a community that abandoned its promise to ‘leave no one behind’ when push came to shove. Let it rather be the story of a global community that came together to ensure that the right to learning was upheld for all – also for the COVID Generation,” said Dag-Inge Ulstein, Norway’s Minister for International Development, as he announced an additional contribution of NOK 20 million ($2.2 million) to ECW.

Today’s new financial pledges to ECW add to the recent contribution of the Netherlands of 6 million euros ($6.9 million) announced at ECW’s High-Level Steering Group meeting on 11 September, bringing the total funds mobilized by ECW in just four years of operations to over $650 million.

“We must stand by those left furthest behind and move with unprecedented speed, determination and commitment to financing an innovative idea and approach in the multilateral system, in the United Nations, that has proven to work. Education Cannot Wait is no longer a start up fund, but has now turned into a full-fledged global fund, reaching 4.5 million children and youth in crises and forced displacement. ECW enables us all to bring hope to those left furthest behind when they most need us,” said The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the Education Cannot Wait High-Level Steering Group.

Since its inception in 2016, ECW has reached an estimated 4.5 million children and youth with inclusive, quality education in some of the worst humanitarian crises worldwide, half of whom are girls. Building on these achievements, ECW is appealing to public and private donors to urgently mobilize an additional $300 million to respond to the pandemic and other emergencies and protracted crises in the coming months.

“We are grateful to all our partners and stakeholders who form Education Cannot Wait. All results are your results. Today, I want to thank Germany, the United States, Norway and the Netherlands for additional generous financial contributions to Education Cannot Wait – announced during the UN General Assembly week – which allows us to continue with speed during the pandemic,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “At ECW, we believe that crises always lead to new opportunities. It is the choice we make that determines the outcome. We must all chose to give it our all and make Sustainable Development Goal 4 a reality for those left furthest behind. The future of their education must be now.”

Today’s event was also an opportunity for ECW to roll out a new donation feature through video communications platform Zoom in partnership with online fundraising platform Pledgeling. During the event, the audience was invited to make and view live donations to support Education Cannot Wait’s work for children and youth caught in conflict and crises across the globe, raising over $14,000 in just two hours. Donations can still be made at or, in the US, by texting ‘ECW’ to 707070.

Note to Editors

Click here to watch the full recording of the high-level event “The Future of Education is Here for Those Left Furthest Behind.”

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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.

On Twitter, please follow: @EduCannotWait  @YasmineSherif1  @KentPage

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Finland and Verizon commit funds and highlight the importance of education in emergencies in building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over US$10 million in funding to ECW announced this week, including new pledges from Canada and the United States.  

Finland and Verizon commit funds and highlight the importance of education in emergencies in building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over US$10 million in funding to ECW announced this week, including new pledges from Canada and the United States. 

27 June 2020, New York – At today’s ‘Global Goal: Unite for our Future’ concert and summit events – presented by Global Citizen in partnership with the European Commission, top artists and global leaders – the Government of Finland and Verizon committed funding to Education Cannot Wait, joining others to highlight the importance of education in building resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the Global Goal events, the Government of Finland and Verizon announced new contributions to Education Cannot Wait, of €3 million and US$1 million respectively. Hosted by Dwayne Johnson, the ‘Unite for our Future’ concert features performances by Shakira, Coldplay, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Yemi Alade and many more.

With the commitments made at the Global Citizen events, a total of over US$10 million in funding to Education Cannot Wait (ECW) was announced this week alone. Just a few days earlier, both the Government of Canada announced CAD$5.5 million and the United States announced US$2.3 million in increased support to ECW, the global fund for education in emergencies.

The new funding will support efforts to provide crisis-affected children and youth – already impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises and now doubly hit by COVID-19 – with the safety, hope and opportunity of an education. This crucial funding expands ECW’s education in emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic and supports its ongoing efforts to achieve universal and equitable education by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the Global Citizen livestream event, Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Mr. Ville Skinnari, announced €3 million (approximately US$3.3 million) in new funding to ECW. This is the first commitment to ECW by the Government of Finland. “In Finland, we believe in education. Education for everyone, everywhere, including in emergencies. That’s why, this year, we pledge 3 million euros to Education Cannot Wait,” said Skinnari.

One of the world’s largest companies, US-based telecommunication provider Verizon, also committed US$1 million to Education Cannot Wait during the event, joining other private sector partners increasingly concerned with the need for education in emergencies. “One of the areas most transformed by COVID-19 is education. That’s why during this pandemic, Verizon has extended our long-term commitment to students and teachers. Today, we continue our support for education by supporting Education Cannot Wait,” said Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon.

In addition to these announcements, earlier this week, the Government of Canada announced an additional CAD$5.5 million (approximately US$4 million) contribution to ECW to address the urgent educational needs of refugees and refugee-hosting communities, and adolescent girls in secondary school, including support to distance learning and teacher training. This contribution brings Canada’s overall support to ECW to over US$56 million. The United States also pledged US $2.3 million in additional funding to ECW, expanding its pledges and contributions to over US$60 million to date. The funding will be dedicated to scale-up the education in emergency response in Burkina Faso and will provide 43,390 children (including 26,034 girls) with formal and non-formal education in a safe, inclusive and quality environment.

“This continued and growing support from Canada, Finland, the United States and Verizon is profoundly appreciated and is, we hope, recognition that ECW is delivering results and making a real difference for children and youth left furthest behind,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “The ECW model seems to work where it is most needed and we call on public and private sector donors – and people everywhere – to join our movement and invest in education for children and young people in countries of crisis. This is their hope, their potential and their power to build back better. We need US$310 million in immediate support for Education Cannot Wait’s responses in countries of conflict, forced displacement and natural disasters. This funding is critical for both the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises. Together with Global Citizen, government donors, the private sector and UN and civil society partners, we are united in leaving no child behind as we build back better from this pandemic, leveraging the power of education to achieve SDG4.”

ECW’s education in emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic focuses on ensuring continuous access to education, including distance, online and radio learning; information campaigns, risk communications and community engagement in local languages, including psychosocial and mental health support; and, water and sanitation facility upgrades in schools and learning centers as a first line of defense. ECW has already reached over 3.4 million crisis-affected children and youth, and mobilized more than US$650 million since its inception just over three years ago.

Global Citizens shared over 1,000 messages with world leaders through a campaign to support education during COVID-19, including through Education Cannot Wait. “The fact that we are receiving support from Global Citizens around the world and from new and existing donors, further inspires our global movement to protect girls and boys from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide them with a brighter future through education,” said Sherif. “For many crisis-affected children and youth, education is more than just learning; it is often lifesaving. Let us unite for these children and for humanity’s future. We are grateful to all Global Citizens calling for support to Education Cannot Wait and to our strategic donors, UN and civil society partners who support the work we do every day.”

“Global Citizen knows the critical role education plays in ensuring COVID-19 and other emergencies don’t become a barrier to opportunities and education for children living in poverty around the world,” said Mick Sheldrick, Chief Global Policy and Government Affairs Officer of Global Citizen. “We are very proud to partner with Education Cannot Wait and commend the crucial contributions announced by Finland and Verizon through Global Goal: Unite for Our Future in support of ECW’s life-saving work for the most vulnerable children and youth around the world. We encourage more government and private sector leaders to support Education Cannot Wait to ensure no child is left behind.”

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