Joint call to world leaders to commit to funding education in emergencies

A World at School and aid agency Plan International are making a joint call to the international community to back a platform to ensure education in emergencies is prioritised and funded.

Following the recent earthquakes in Nepal, the majority of schools in the worst affected districts have been destroyed or rendered unsafe. Almost a million children will not be able to return to school unless urgent action is taken to assess affected schools and provide temporary learning spaces. And following the second major earthquake on 12 May, Nepal has deferred reopening schools.

But this is not just a national issue. Over half of the world’s out-of-school children – 28 million children – are denied an education because they live in conflict or emergency affected areas. In the last year millions of children have been driven out of school by Ebola and attacks on schools – to say nothing of the millions of Syrian refugees who remain out of school alongside nearly 800,000 children forced out of school in northern Nigeria. Yet, in 2014 only 1 per cent of humanitarian funds deployed went to education and there is currently no long-term mechanism to fund the education of refugee children or those affected by disasters which bridges the gap between humanitarian and development funding.

“Out-of-school children, particularly during disasters, are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Despite these urgent needs, just under $300,000 of the $21 million requested to support education for affected children in Nepal has been met so far”, said Nigel Chapman, CEO of Plan International.

Sarah Brown, President of Theirworld, said: “We know that education can provide hope and a better future especially in an emergency but shamefully only 1% of humanitarian funding went to education last year. Out-of-school children are much more at risk of early marriage, being recruited as child soldiers or in other forms of child labour, and being trapped in poverty.”

Over the next month, A World at School, Plan International and others will be calling on world leaders to back a Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies. The fund, a topic of discussion at the Oslo Summit on Education for Development in July, looks to finance the delivery of education at the onset of disasters and emergencies to ensure that children can return to school as quickly as possible. It will look to strengthen existing mechanisms so that partners are incentivised to develop a coordinated, strategic multi-year response for delivering and resourcing education in an emergency situation, with a defined process by which money can be rapidly disbursed.

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Theirworld is joining with other education campaigners to make sure that when disaster strikes, education can resume quickly. Children must have safe places to play, learn, receive life-saving information and support. Schools must be rebuilt and reopened as soon as possible. Can you add your name to the #UpForSchool petition, and help prove to world leaders that many people want to see education as a key part of the emergency response?