World leaders have gathered in Istanbul to make a global plan to work together to make sure children affected by war or natural disasters get the help they need when things go wrong. There are lots of items on the agenda. But there’s one thing they are discussing that we should be celebrating together: making sure education gets delivered even after an emergency.

A few years ago, there’s a good chance that education wouldn’t have been on their radar. After disaster strikes, school can seem like a luxury, or even just horribly irrelevant.

But the education experts, NGOs, campaigners, businesses, teachers and youth that have mobilised together know differently: that education keeps children safe and gives them and their families hope for the future, even at the darkest times. A huge, people-powered diverse movement has come together behind education in emergencies and the new Education Cannot Wait Fund with A World at School convening more than 100 private sector partners, 500 global youth ambassadors and hundreds of NGOs, faith communities and other networks heavily involved in everything from consultations, public awareness to campaigning.

Last year this network of organisations collected the biggest ever petition on education taken to the Oslo Summit and the UNGA with more than 10 million names. These were young people and grassroots organisations in Pakistan, Nigeria, the DRC, Syria and around the world all calling for funding for education in emergencies. In advance of today’s Summit young people from around the world have shared a new powerful message calling for safe schools.

The high profile given to education at the first ever World Humanitarian Summit is the result of years of campaigning and consultations including the support for the original announcement of the platform agreed at meetings in Korea at the World Education Forum, the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings in both 2015 and 2016, and the Norwegian Government hosted Education Summit in Oslo in 2015.

Like most successful campaigns, we’re breaking through because it’s been a huge team effort. We’ve had backing from high profile people as diverse as Desmond Tutu, UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown and Shakira. Child rights champions such as Anthony Lake at UNICEF have led the charge to bridge the gap between emergencies and development, and the Norwegian Government has been a firmly committed partner in this effort.

Today’s announcement of a new fund for education in emergencies called Education Cannot Wait is a major campaign milestone and its focus reflects the expertise of hundreds of diverse stakeholders. Over the past year the International Network for education in emergencies (INEE) has led two phases of detailed global consultations across civil society starting in early 2015 in advance of the Oslo Education Summit where more than 500 people and organisations participated in the global consultation process from 53 countries. The Overseas Development Institute has shared crucial research, which has been poured over by experts to find the best solution to the challenge. Representatives from civil society working on education around the world, including Save the Children, Norwegian Refugee Council, War Child, and other key organisations have been important stakeholders in this process.

The official launch of the new fund means that the power to change the lives of millions of children and youth now lies in the hands of a small group of international leaders attending the Summit. The people with the heavyweight financial clout needed to make that happen and ensure the target is met, raising almost $4 billion to reach 13.6 million children within five years. Its time for action. You can track their commitments here. Education Cannot Wait.

Author: Ben Hewitt (@ibenhewitt) is Director of Campaigns for children’s charity Theirworld. In 2013 Theirworld founded the global campaign movement A World at School, bringing together civil society, academic networks, faiths, large and small NGOs, youth, business and international organisations to campaign for every child to secure their right to a quality education. Find out more at


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