September 26, 2019

Day of hope as international donors pledge to help millions of children into school

These children displaced by violence in Mopti, central Mali, are among millions who need to be in safe schools

Photo credit: Education Cannot Wait / A. Desgroseilliers

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

The value of campaigning was shown as countries and foundations stepped up to give hundreds of millions of dollars to two global education initiatives. 

Millions of vulnerable children will be able to go to school after a historic day of fundraising for two global education initiatives.

Donors pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to support Education Cannot Wait (ECW) - which helps children in humanitarian emergencies into school - and the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd).

At an event yesterday during the United Nations General Assembly, countries and foundations announced more than $200 million for ECW to deliver education and hope to millions of children caught up in conflicts, disasters and displacement crises.

Guarantees of $500 million and grants of $100 million for IFFEd will allow an additional $2 billion to be mobilised to get children into school in the "missing middle" countries which lie between the developing world and rich nations.

"This is the largest amount unlocked for education in a single day because IFFEd multiplies donor resources and unleashes new funding streams," said Theirworld President Justin van Fleet. 

Girls at a school in South Sudan, which has been affected by conflict

Photo credit: Education Cannot Wait /

"Not too long ago, these two funds didn't even exist. It demonstrates the effect of energetic and steadfast long-term campaigning by young people."

Theirworld championed the establishment of both ECW and IFFEd, backed by our supporters and our network of 1,000 Global Youth Ambassadors in countries around the world. 

The funds have yielded new and additional financing to help governments mobilise more money for the education of children and youth.

With 260 million children out of school, our #WriteTheWrong campaign has been calling for ECW and IFFEd to be fully funded. 

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ECW needs $1.8 billion by 2021 to reach nine million children and youth affected by conflicts, disasters and displacement in 25 priority countries. Since it was launched, the fund has supported 1.4 million children and youth in 32 countries.

At yesterday's Leave No One Behind event in New York, ECW received pledges of $106m from the United Kingdom; $55m from Norway; $37m from Denmark; $12m from the United States; $11m from Germany; $6.6m from Ireland; $6m from Switzerland; and $12.5m from the LEGO Foundation. The ProFuturo Foundation also announced substantial support to reach 650,000 children. 

It takes the total raised for ECW so far to $560 million.

The funding will help young people like Zaynab Abdi from Yemen, who told the event of her experiences when war broke out. She said: "No girl should fear for her life while going to school." 

ECW Director Yasmine Sherif said: “With this tremendous support, Education Cannot Wait and our strategic donor partners are saying to girls and boys suffering the brunt of crises ‘You are no longer forgotten'."

IFFEd received guarantees of $250 million from United Kingdom and $250 million from the Netherlands, along with $100 million in grants from the UK.

Other speakers at the Leave No One Behind event included UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown.

"In disasters children’s education suffers first," said Fore. "Children should not have to pay the price. We must find ways to continue their education."

Brown said: "On Friday when thousands of children walked out of school to make a protest about what is happening to our environment we all applauded, I applauded. Today we have to protest on behalf of all the children who had no school to walk out of.

"Let us be a coalition. A coalition of caring. Let us say we will be the first generation in history that educated every child."

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