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Education Cannot Wait’s mission helps achieve progress toward the United Nations' Global Goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. But the COVID-19 pandemic has created the biggest challenge yet. Join Global Citizen and take action here.

As the pandemic disrupts the education of 90% of the world’s children and youth, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is reaffirming its commitment to children in emergencies and crises, and sharing some numbers of progress amid the worst education crisis of our time. 

In its new annual results report published Tuesday, ECW announced that it reached 2.6 million children and youth with $131 million in funding in 2019. This funding, which increased nearly three times from the previous year’s amount, was disbursed to 75 grantees to support education in emergency and crisis situations in 29 countries.

“This new Annual Results Report shows ECW advancing from strength to strength, just three years into its operations,” said Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group, in a press release.

Since its inception in 2016, ECW has helped 3.5 million children and youth in humanitarian crises around the world — 30% of whom are refugees and 15% of whom are internally displaced persons. The impact of these funds can be seen, for example, in Uganda, where the primary enrollment ratio for refugee children increased more than 20% in two years, with the current rate being 75%.

Another key demographic that the funds target are girls who face additional barriers in crisis settings, such as higher rates of gender-based violence. Girls represent nearly half of the children reached by ECW grants active in 2019, and some countries have reached even higher proportions through the investments. For instance, a ECW-funded community-based education model in Afghanistan has reached 57% of girls among its beneficiaries.

“In Afghanistan, out-of-school girls now have the opportunity to return to the safety and protection of an education thanks to the government’s community-based education approaches and the partnership with civil society and UN agencies,” said ECW Director Yasmine Sherif in the press release.

The progress made by ECW throughout the past few years is representative of the larger picture of humanitarian funding for education. The report shows that there has been growing political commitment for emergency education, with funding in this sector growing five-fold from 2015 to 2019. But to sustain this upward slope, or even just maintain the current progress, more funding is needed.

“The pandemic has swept across the world, threatening decades of hard-won development gains,” Brown said. “As an innovative fund, Education Cannot Wait is breaking new ground, but more needs to be done. Financing is absolutely essential.”

To deal with the impacts of the pandemic, ECW and its partners are now working to mobilize an additional $310 million to support the current emergency responses. This will not only help support the 90% of school-age children impacted by the pandemic, but also the 10 million who may never return to school, primarily due to budget reductions and rising poverty.

ECW believes that the $310 million, together with in-country resource mobilization, will allow the organization to reach close to 9 million children annually, Sherif said.

This is especially urgent in the months ahead as the worst education crisis in modern history intensifies due to the pandemic, potentially derailing the lives of millions of children.


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Education Cannot Wait Distributed a Record $131 Million in 2019

By Kristine Liao