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Education cannot wait: education in humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations

infographic smCo-hosted by the Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF and Save the Children, this event held during UN General Assembly week focused on education for the 28 million children – nearly half of all children not in primary school – whose lives are turned upside down by war, conflict and humanitarian emergencies.

Chaired by the Norwegian Minister for International Development, Heikki Holmås, leaders from the worlds of government, civil society and other global institutions met at this round table to agree a further push on the world’s commitments to children living in such situations – children for whom education cannot wait.

Camilla Croso, GCE President made a strong case for the vital role civil society can and must play in humanitarian emergencies. Following close work with the national coalition, Camilla gave the stark example of Haiti, where substantial amounts of international aid finances private education. During a meeting with the Haiti Minister of Education, it was made clear to GCE that the Haitian government would prefer to strengthen the now-scarce public education system rather than finance a private one. Camilla also highlighted the positive impact that investing in co-ordinated public financing for education has had in Liberia. Following years of civil war, UNICEF and the Open Society Foundation worked with the government to set up a pooled fund for public education, supporting both the immediate education needs whilst strengthening national education planning and systems in the long-term.

The Liberian Minister for Education, Etmonia Tarpeh, was present at the meeting, and could not have made a clearer case; she commented: “Education helps children make choices: will they choose the path to war, or a better path? ...It is essential that all international actors wake up to the critical role that education must play in emergencies. I cannot believe that people do not understand how important it is. Please, please, can we invest more in education in times of conflict. Not doing so is unacceptable, it is short-sighted, and it is immoral. We must all do everything we can now.”

Currently, education in emergencies accounts for less than two percent of humanitarian aid; the meeting made a clear call for this to be at least doubled to four percent. Other demands include:

  • Enforcement of international laws which protect children, teachers and schools from attacks
  • Strengthen national plans and budgets for emergencies
  • Support the UN Secretary General’s Education First initiative which includes measures to help children in conflict and other emergencies.

More information and the Call to Action can be found at: