Organizations are calling on world leaders to support an emergency education fund throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — because education can’t wait.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) was borne out of the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, pooling the efforts of humanitarian and development aid, as well as public and private donors to reprioritize education as an urgent need in the international humanitarian agenda.
That issue is more dire than ever. The commitment cannot falter or wane, even amid the stressors and strains that COVID-19 is imposing on governments worldwide.
That is why global organizations, including Care International, the Malala Fund, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children, UNICEF USA, War Child, World Vision International, among many others, have issued a joint call for the support of ECW as a vital and integral component to COVID-19 response efforts. In that call, they stress the gravity and urgency of the issue.
"As of April 2020, more than 1.5 billion children and youth around the world are affected by school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting over 91 percent of the world’s student population," the statement reads.
For some students, the pandemic has only exacerbated existing challenges, as 75 million children and youth are currently impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, and natural disasters. They now face a second crisis with the coronavirus pandemic.
In light of the pandemic, ECW has deployed grants totalling $23 million to 26 countries, to ensure education services aren’t further compromised during the crisis.
Organizations, foundations, and governments have also stepped up to help.
The LEGO Foundation announced $15 million in additional funding to ECW, bringing their total contributions to date to $27.5 million.
"Research shows that while learning through play is vital for children’s psychological, emotional, and cognitive health and development, it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures, which is needed now more than ever given the crisis we’re currently up against," John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation, said.
ECW education in emergency response to #COVID19 are supporting distance learning, information campaigns, risk communications and community engagement in local languages, including psychosocial guidance. pic.twitter.com/L1pBkND1dJ— Education Cannot Wait (@EduCannotWait) April 22, 2020
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) announced $6.26 million to the ECW fund for education in emergencies, with a total of $160 million donated to date.
ECW is now calling on further support from the private sector, foundations, governments, and other donors to urgently replenish its emergency funds reserve required to respond to expected additional needs and emergencies in the immediate future.
"We deliver with unprecedented speed in coordination with all actors on the ground, but we need more funds to continue to help the most vulnerable of the world’s population: forcibly displaced and crisis-affected children and youth, especially girls who are the most exposed. If not now, when?" Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait director, said in a statement.