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Doing more and better for the education of children in emergencies


Children living in conflict or emergency-affected areas make up a quarter of the world’s primary school-aged population, yet they represent half of the 58 million children out of school globally. This is a staggering figure – yet is likely to be a significant underestimation when we consider that:

  • at least 25 million children are living as refugees or are displaced
  • 175 million children are likely to be affected by disasters every year.

As recent events so disturbingly illustrate crises send millions of children’s learning into free fall.

  • 5 million children were out of school in Ebola-affected countries in the past year
  • Nearly 3 million as a result of the four year-long Syria crisis
  • Right now almost 1 million children are no longer learning as a result of the Nepal earthquake and are unlikely to go back to school anytime soon with almost 24,000 classrooms damaged or destroyed.

Lack of funding a persistent challenge 

One of the persistent challenges in providing education to children caught up in emergencies is a lack of funding.

On average, education receives less than 2% of total humanitarian aid committed through emergency appeals and the education sector routinely receives less than half of the funding it asks for to meet children’s educational needs.

The call for a new education in emergencies fund

Earlier this year the UN Special Envoy for Education and former UK Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Gordon Brown, called for the establishment of a new fund for education in emergencies.

Save the Children strongly welcomed the attention that Mr Brown has helped to focus on the persistent gap in funding for education in emergency settings. He more than anyone else is speaking truth to power in his assiduous advocacy for the right of children affected by humanitarian crises to go to school.

We agree with him, there is no doubt that more and better funding is absolutely essential and that a new funding mechanism with dedicated resources to support educational provision in emergencies could play a vital part in closing the fund gap.


New fund poses opportunity to address other critical barriers

In addition to mobilising more resources Save the Children believes that any new global action, including a dedicated fund, provides an important opportunity to address other critical barriers to providing an education to children caught up in crises.

This week we published More and better: Global action to improve funding, support and collaboration for education in emergencies, which sets out three principles that we want to see delivered by any global action in support of education in emergencies, including a new funding mechanism. They are:

1. More and better funding

A new fund or platform should of course deliver more funding but that funding must be:

  • additional
  • timely, predictable and flexible
  • based on need
  • used to support quality educational outcomes
  • used to incentivise contributions from other sources

2. More and better support

Beyond increasing the volume and effectiveness of funding a new fund or platform should:

  • strengthen the capacity of existing systems, structures and organisations, including national government, the Education Cluster and UNHCR
  • increase investments aimed at risk reduction, conflict sensitivity and strengthening preparedness
  • enhance monitoring, research and impact evaluation of education in emergency interventions
  • undertake better tracking and monitoring and funding and spend

3. More and better collaboration and commitment

A new fund or platform should contribute to the development of new policy, practice and systems which incentivise national and international education, development and humanitarian sectors to work together and allow them to demonstrate leadership of and commitment to education in emergencies, including by:

  • harnessing the collective power of all education in emergencies funding
  • creating more alignment with wider education aid, architecture, policy and practice
  • addressing the wider structural and political barriers to effective education in emergencies provision
  • ensuring integrated emergencies programming remains a priority
  • creating a forum for high level political commitment to education in emergencies

Providing education in emergencies essential to meeting education goals

We launched More and Better at the World Education Forum in Korea this week, where world leaders are meeting to agree a new global education goal. The new goal will replace the education Millennium Development Goal, which was to ensure all children received a quality primary education.

The new goal is to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all’. If we have any hope of realising that ambition we must do much more to ensure that humanitarian crises do not rob children of their right to an education. Securing more funding, providing more support and achieving more collaboration and commitment to education in emergencies is essential.

Additional background on the call for a new fund for education in emergencies, a brief overview of the funding crisis and the case for education in emergency contexts along with more details on how these principles could be advanced via new global action, are set out in More and Better: Global action to improve funding, support and collaboration for education in emergencies.


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