New fund to address global education crisis launches

23rd May 2016

Education Cannot Wait aims to provide 13.6 million young people caught up in emergencies and protracted crises with quality education, over the next five years

DUBLIN/ISTANBUL, 23 May 2016 Global and national organisations today launched a new fund to better coordinate support for and drive investment in education for young people affected by humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises.

One in four of the world’s school-aged children – nearly half a billion – live in countries affected by crises. Around 75 million of these children are either already missing out on their education, receiving poor quality schooling or they are at risk of dropping out of school altogether.

Education Cannot Wait – a fund for education in emergencies, announced during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, aims to reach more than 13.6 million children and youth living in crisis situations, such as conflict, natural disasters and disease outbreaks, with quality education over the next five years, and 75 million children and youth in desperate need of education by 2030.

Dubai Cares, the European Union, Netherlands, Norway, the UK Department for International Development, and the United States Government have all made financial contributions so far.

Across the world education systems are being destroyed by violent armed conflict, natural disasters and health emergencies, robbing children of the skills they need to build safe, strong communities and economies when they reach adulthood.

On average less than 2% of humanitarian aid goes towards funding education. Moreover, education systems equipped to cope with protracted crises cannot be built on the foundations of short-term – and unpredictable – appeals. Education Cannot Wait, which has a funding target of $3.85 billion over five years, aims to bridge the gap between humanitarian interventions during crises and long-term development afterwards, through predictable funding.

“There is an urgent need to ensure that kids who are forced into refuge are not denied an education. Education Cannot Wait has the potential to chart the path forward by developing the tools we need to deliver education and offers the promise of unlocking new sources of funding,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Gayle Smith.

“Today, 37 million children living through conflicts or crises are out of school. A generation of young people is missing out on education, being cheated out of its future, and it is no foundation for a peaceful and stable future.  Their education cannot wait – and neither should our support,” said UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening. “The UK is leading efforts to respond to this global challenge, helping to set up the No Lost Generation Initiative with UNICEF and partners to educate Syrian refugee children, but they are just some of the millions of children affected worldwide. That is why the UK is supporting the Education Cannot Wait initiative with a commitment of £30 million. The UK wants to see the international community step up efforts to reach every child with the schooling they need to make their futures brighter.”

“Action now has to happen urgently because of the sheer scale of numbers of children impacted. These young people are missing out on schooling and this is becoming a “full-blown global crisis” that will haunt the world for generations,” said United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown.

“The new fund will help to make the crucial link between humanitarian aid and long-term development ensuring that children’s education is not forgotten,” said Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

“Today 75 million children are denied their right to education because of humanitarian emergencies and crises. Education is crucial if we want to give these children a future. The launch of the ‘Education Cannot Wait’ fund couldn’t be more timely,” said Minister for Foreign Trade and Development of the Netherlands Lilianne Ploumen.

“This is the right initiative at the right time. We must step up our efforts to deliver quality education to children and youth in conflict zones and crises. We cannot afford a future with millions of children without education,” said Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Børge Brende.

“Children don’t need education even in emergencies; they need education especially in emergencies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Without an education, how will they gain the knowledge and skills to chart their own futures – and to someday lend their hands to building more peaceful, stable futures for their societies? And how can we hope to reach our global development goals for education if we don’t focus on children trapped in humanitarian emergencies – who represent almost half of all children out of school today?”


Notes to editors:

About the Global Partnership for Education:

The Global Partnership for Education works with more than 60 developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, the most vulnerable and those living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

The Global Partnership mobilizes financing for education and supports developing countries to build effective education systems founded on evidence-based planning and policies

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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit

To watch Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom talk about the importance of education during emergencies while on a visit to war-torn Ukraine, visit our YouTube page.

To join our social movement to get people talking about education in crises, visit

For more information contact: 

Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland | Tel: +353 1 809 0281 | Mob: +353 85 1395272 



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