ISTANBUL — Established at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is a global fund dedicated to the education of children living in crisis. Due to conflict, natural disasters, displacement and other emergencies, over 75 million children are out of school. Less than two percent of humanitarian aid goes toward this education gap, and the Education Cannot Wait fund is the world’s response.
Without education, children lack stability and hope and are more vulnerable to trafficking, child labor and child marriage. Protracted crisis situations mean entire generations can lose consistent educational support, which weakens communities and economies around the world. It is not enough for humanitarian aid to provide food, shelter and healthcare. Children need education, especially in crises.
It will take $8.5 billion to reach the 75 million children whose education is currently interrupted, and the innovative Education Cannot Wait fund is raising that money through a combination of country partnerships, non-governmental organizations, corporations, individuals and donors in the field.
Working with support from several bases, Education Cannot Wait is reaches children through both rapid-response and multi-year initiatives. By funding existing global and regional organizations, ECW provides resources to partners already working in crisis areas, speeding up the response time and returning children to their educations more quickly.
With an initial investment of $55 million, ECW has wasted no time in making a difference. Over 2 million children in Chad, Ethiopia, Syria and Yemen are learning again thanks to Education Cannot Wait. In Chad, the organization is working with local actors to train teachers, build new schools and provide formal and non-formal education.
With half of the country’s primary school-aged children out of school, the fund is mobilizing the community to continue children’s education, something that was made impossible before by insufficient funds.
In Ethiopia, the fifth-largest refugee-hosting country in the world, Education Cannot Wait is creating new facilities for displaced children, improving existing schools and recruiting and training new teachers. Arriving in Ethiopia before may have meant displaced children would lose access to education due to overcrowding in existing schools, ECW’s funding is preventing this damaging interruption and ensuring that children don’t lose the stability schools provide.
The fund does not mobilize for only those educational systems already damaged by conflict. Through its innovative First Response Window mechanism, Education Cannot Wait is utilizing a $20 million investment to provide funding support at the onset and initial escalation of crises.
To protect education from the beginning of a crisis, ECW uses four different approaches: meeting immediate educational needs through rapid injection of funds, coordinating with other response plans and matching their funds, funding project proposals and financing need assessments for individual countries.
The $20 million First Response Window funding is currently working in Peru, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Somalia, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Uganda. With this visionary approach, the fund protects children’s education through collaboration with emergency education response partners.
While humanitarian aid thus far has not prioritized education, Education Cannot Wait is changing the lives of millions of children with its mission to have every single child in a crisis environment enrolled in school by 2030. Whether the crisis has a recent onset or is protracted, ECW is there to protect children’s rights to build better futures.
Education gives children the chance to dream, and Education Cannot Wait is doing critical work at the funding level to make sure every child has that opportunity.
– Irena Huang