Today, 75 million children do not have access to education because they are stuck in conflict or crisis. Despite the adoption of the UN’s Global Goals -- which includes Goal 4: Quality Education for All -- progress has stalled for some of the most vulnerable children in our world today.

This month, world leaders and other members of the humanitarian aid and development sector hope to mobilize large-scale support for the provision of education in emergencies. The inaugural World Humanitarian Summit will feature the launch of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), a fund for education in emergencies. This is the first international effort to focus specifically on providing educational supports and learning opportunities for kids during and after crises.

Image: ODI

The Fund has five key functions: inspire political commitment, joint planning and response, generate and disburse new funding, strengthen capacity, and improve accountability.

The new fund will focus on closing an $8.5 billion USD annual funding gap for education in emergencies and protracted crises is keeping children in emergencies or crisis from accessing quality education. The ECW Fund will coordinate political action as well as mobilize crucial resources and public interest to mobilize towards a goal of reaching every child in crisis by 2030.

How will the ECW Fund do this? Here are 5 key points you need to know.

It’s the first of it’s kind! The ECW is the first pooled fund devoted exclusively to education in emergencies.

The ECW Fund is designed to address how to provide education in emergencies and identify the funding shortfalls that prevent the delivery of education during humanitarian crises. By mobilizing existing donors and bringing in new donors within a pre-existing financial framework, the ECW Fund will be the first international fund to prioritize education in emergencies. 

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A built-in bank! Crucially, 95 percent of the funding will come into and out of the Breakthrough Fund.

The ECW Breakthrough Fund aims to enable country-level delivery of education in crisis through entirely new funds rather than through money that is repurposed or substituted. It will offer financial flexibility, with funds being made available for both immediate and medium-term requirements. The Breakthrough Fund will accomplish this by engaging governments and implementing partners at all levels, from international to community actors.

Rather than creating entirely new financing mechanisms, the Fund will use existing frameworks so that the delivery of education aid can be more efficient. To achieve this, the Fund will be split into three components: a rapid response mechanism designed for rapid, immediate support; a multi-year support window for country plans of up to five years; and pop-up funds in direct response to crises in specific countries or regions.

Because the Breakthrough Fund is a shared pool of resources, donors will be collectively accountable for implementation of responses and their results.

A built-in throttle! The Acceleration Facility will provide 5 percent of funds.

The Acceleration Facility is designed to improve and accelerate collective responses to education and will be available to such parties as global and regional education crisis actors. By providing funds to existing actors, the Facility hopes to deliver better and higher quality education in crises. One mechanism by which it hopes to accomplish this goal is by facilitating more research- and data-driven guidelines and practices.

The Fund will support specific activities within the sector through Catalytic Support Grants, which will enable actors with specific expertise to collaborate on education activities. These grants will get the education sector to work closely together on activities that target one the five key outputs of the ECW Fund. This includes high-level advocacy, the development and management of innovative financing efforts, and strengthened data collection and methodologies.

An experienced host to start! UNICEF are the first host of the ECW Fund.

In Year 1, UNICEF will assume the functions of the Secretariat, which will oversee the day-to-day administration, organization, and logistics of the ECW Fund. Following the initial startup period, supervision and management of the ECW Fund will transition to a more permanent host (which is to be determined). In this startup phase, UNICEF will help mobilize seed funding from donors and steer the ECW Fund to the scaling phase.

After leadership of the Secretariat has transferred to a permanent host, the ECW Fund will look to increase and accelerate funding as well as create innovative financing methods through Year 5. After this period of scaling, the Fund will then pivot towards the 2030 outlook, which is to mobilize investment in order to reach 75 million children by Year 15.

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High hopes! The ECW Fund aims to reach at least $3.85 billion USD in funding in five years.

While this money would reach 13.6 million children needing educational support in emergencies, the ultimate goal for the ECW Fund is to reach the more than 75 million children that are at risk by 2030, when the Sustainable Development Agenda comes to a close.

With an initial target of $150 million USD in Year 1 to reach 1.36 million children, the ECW Fund will scale up to an overall goal of $3.85 billion USD by Year 5 to reach 13.6 million (or 18%) children in crises. But why stop there? While $3.85 billion is the target, it is possible that, with proof of its effectiveness and outcomes, donors may provide even more funding than the target, which would mean the Fund can impact millions more children around the world.  

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It is for this reason that it is so important to set the bar (and ambition) high for strong pledges to kickstart the Fund at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. By exceeding the Year 1 target, the fund will not only have the resources to demonstrate its effectiveness, but also to affect millions more lives in 2016. Which, in a situation of emergency, is crucial. Sign our petition today to add your voice to the volume of support for World Leaders to pledge big to the ECW Fund in Istanbul!


Defeat Poverty

Five things you need to know about the Education Cannot Wait Fund

By Madge Thomas