By: Abdillahi Said
These girls and boys are already impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises. An additional series of grants to support the response in other crisis-affected countries will be released shortly and reach partners in-country in the coming days read a press statement released by Education Cannot Wait Global Fund (ECW) below
“1.5 billion children are out of school. The majority of the 31 million children uprooted from their homes today – including over 17 million internally displaced, 12.7 million refugees and 1.1 million asylum seekers – are at great risk,” said Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-level Steering Group and UN Special Envoy for Global Education. “Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of ‘the fierce urgency of now,’ and the crisis for these vulnerable children is right now and that is why ECW is making its full emergency reserves available immediately.”
This emergency allocation supports the United Nations coordinated $2 billion global humanitarian appeal launched on 25 March to fight COVID-19 in many of the world’s most vulnerable countries – already wracked by crises and now doubly-impacted by COVID-19.
As the pandemic continues to spread, upending entire countries and education systems worldwide, some 75 million children and youth – whose education was already disrupted due armed conflict, forced displacement, climate change-induced disasters and other crises – now find themselves in double jeopardy. Without the protection of a safe, equitable, inclusive quality education, they face increased risk of suffering the brunt of the pandemic, at higher risk of neglect, abuse, exploitation and violence, and of being even further left behind. Education is indeed be lifesaving for these vulnerable children and youth.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis upon an already existing global education crisis affecting 75 million children and youth, of whom 39 million are girls, in war-torn countries and forced displacement. They are at extreme risk in the face of this unprecedented pandemic. We need to double our efforts and act with decisive speed. In the face of such immense exposure, immediate action is not only essential – it is existential. They are the ones furthest left behind and the ones we need to reach first,” said Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif. “We are releasing our entire emergency reserve in two batches to support governments, UN agencies and civil society to reach them. ECW’s emergency funding will be with them in just a few days.”
The series of ECW’s First Emergency Response grants is allocated to 30 UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations who are coordinating their efforts together with host-governments in-country through inter-agency humanitarian structures, such as the Education Cluster or the Education in Emergencies Working Group.
The duration of grants varies from 6 to 12 months. Activities ensure quality learning for the most vulnerable, in a safe, equitable, inclusive environment and through innovative and cost-effective responses in affected countries. Interventions are focusing on the following areas:
Emergency Education Measures: With the total disruption of the usual education systems in emergency-affected areas, grants are to support alternative delivery models, including informal education materials at the household level, as well as scaling up distance education programmes, particularly via interactive radio. Social emotional learning and psychosocial support are prominent components of the academic curriculum to be provided in these alternative delivery models.
Messaging and Support Around Risks: ECW grants are to support information campaigns and the scaling up of risk communications and community engagement with target populations. Messaging, tailored to local languages and contexts, are to give practical advice about how to stay safe, including through handwashing and social distancing. Refugees, displaced and marginalized people may also experience xenophobia and stigma, requiring mental health and psychosocial support. Parents and teachers are to receive COVID19-specific guidance to promote the resilience and the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth at home.
Upgrading Water and Sanitation Facilities in Schools: This is to benefit both students and the wider community as handwashing is a first line of defense against COVID-19. Even when schools and learning facilities are officially closed, in many cases there is still access to these facilities, and they can serve as crucial hubs to increase access to handwashing and distribute hygiene materials and kits.
ECW’s First Emergency Funding (FER) window is specifically designed to support rapid, agile coordinated education responses in times of new sudden onset or escalating crises. It is uniquely designed to ensure education can play its crucial lifesaving and life-sustaining role for affected children and youth in emergency settings.
Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, ECW issued a simplified application process to fast-track applications from partners for this emergency, ensuring funds can urgently be disbursed to roll out activities on the ground.
ECW’s allocation of much needed emergency funding to address critical education needs as a result of COVID-19 leaves a $50 million funding shortfall that will affect the Fund’s ability to respond to other needs or emergencies in the immediate future. ECW calls on the private sector, foundations, governments and other donors to urgently make new donations to ECW to support these efforts.
With these new emergency funding grants, ECW has now allocated over $100 million through its First Emergency Response window since the Fund started its operations in 2017 – supporting rapid education responses in more than 30 crisis-affected countries.