More than 40 of the world's leading charities and campaign organisations have joined forces to call on world leaders to create an urgent fund to provide education for children affected by wars and natural disasters.
Today's appeal comes just days before a meeting of governments at the Oslo Education Summit on July 7 and following a new policy paper from UNESCO which articulates how ‘inefficient humanitarian and development aid systems’ are excluding millions of children in conflict from an education.
A joint statement by prominent NGOs and campaign organisations - led by A World at School and including Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision, Action Aid, Malala Fund, Plan International, Muslim Aid and Avaaz - calls for a public commitment to be made at the summit for the creation of a Global Humanitarian Fund and Platform for Education in Emergencies.
More than 20 million children are currently being denied an education because they live in conflict and disaster zones, with young girls 90% more likely to be out of secondary school in conflict areas than elsewhere, according to the UNESCO report.
Despite the growing numbers caught up in tragedy, in 2014 only 1% of overall humanitarian aid and 2% of humanitarian appeals was spent on education.
A new policy brief released today from A World at School shows the consequences of not investing in education in emergencies. Children out of school are at immediate risk of child labour, recruitment as child soldiers, early marriage and other forms of sexual exploitation, slavery and trafficking.
Iraqi displaced children at Domiz camp in 2014 Picture: UNICEF/Schermbrucker
In conflict and emergencies, investment in education can both save lives in the short-term and billions of dollars in opportunity costs in the long-term. For example, in Pakistan between 2009 and 2012, lack of access to education for 5.5 million children due to conflict is estimated to have cost $2.9 billion in lost income.
On July 7, International donors, leading education experts and advocates will come together in Oslo to mobilise renewed political commitment for the 58 million children that remain out of school.
There is an opportunity to commit to the creation of a Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies which should enable additional predictable funding and more efficiently co-ordinate rapid assistance at the onset of an emergency and bridge the gaps between humanitarian and development aid in the rebuilding phase.
Nepalese boy at a camp after the earthquake Picture: OCHA/Orla Fagan
Kolleen Bouchane, Policy and Advocacy Director for A World at School, said: “The financing situation is bleak for basic education but in conflict and disaster scenarios it is absolutely devastating.
"Not investing in children’s education in emergencies is a choice for inaction, a choice to waste the lives and resources of entire communities. It is a false economy that is increasing suffering, and costing millions.
“World leaders must no longer ignore the needs of the most vulnerable children in the world. We must see immediate action in Oslo with clear deadlines for next steps which reflect the necessary urgency to ensure entire generations are not trapped in a perpetual cycle of poverty and war with no hope for rebuilding their lives, communities and countries.”
Internally displaced children in South Sudan
David Skinner, Education Global Initiative Director of Save the Children, said: "We must translate rhetoric on equity and learning into reality and put the needs of the most deprived children first. More and better funding for education in emergencies is critical to doing this."
Linda Hiebert, Senior Director, Education and Life Skills, for World Vision International, said: “It is unacceptable that, in 2014, only 1% of humanitarian aid went to education when nearly half of out-of-school children live in conflict and emergency settings
“World Vision believes it is possible to end extreme poverty by 2030 if leaders stop at nothing to deliver truly ambitious goals focused on the most vulnerable children in the hardest places to live. This includes the creation of a Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies.”
Elie Joueun, Chair of the Global March Against Child Labour, said: “Throughout the world, investment in education is weak and it is more so devastating in conflicted areas. Choosing to not invest is to shy away from our mutual responsibility of bringing education to all children, especially the vulnerable conflict-ridden. Education is the only way to break the cycle of poverty and the only hope to rebuild their lives and communities. I hope the Oslo Education Summit will come up with an immediate action plan on this with the necessary urgency.”
CARE's Education Director Joyce Adolwa said: “Investing in the education of children in crisis and emergency situations is an investment in the stability and resilience of the future of those affected and their communities. CARE’s experience shows the difference support and solidarity to communities in conflict can make.
“Working with marginalised girls from Afghanistan to Mali, Somalia to Syria, we have grappled with the challenges of advancing learning in the most challenging of conditions, which are exacerbated by conflict or natural disasters. There is urgent need to ramp up coordinated efforts to reach marginalised children with education as a critical catalyst for change."