Scaling Up SDG4 in Crises

Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot

By Yasmine Sherif
NEW YORK, Oct 9 2020 (IPS)

Out of global crises spring opportunities for change. In crisis,
change is not an option. It is a necessity. And, as Plato famously
noted: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Education Cannot
Wait (ECW)
is an invention that sprang out of crisis and was borne of

Yasmine Sherif

Education Cannot Wait was conceived as a direct response to the
lack of financial resources and crisis-sensitive approaches needed
to address the learning crisis for 75 million vulnerable children
and adolescents impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement
and climate-induced disasters. Today, three years into its
operations, the growing number of already crisis-affected children
and youth are now doubly hit by another crisis, COVID-19, while
under the threat of being hit again by the global financial crisis.

How many crises can they withstand without succumbing? How many
hits can they take without losing hope?

This burning question was at the centre of the UNGA week event:
Future of Education is Here for Those Left Furthest Behind
On 17 September 2020, ECW brought together an impressive, diverse
line-up of political leaders, policymakers, influencers and youth
advocates, who unanimously spoke to the need of scaling up
investments in inclusive quality education for those left furthest
behind: refugees, internally displaced, girls and children with
disabilities – all already affected by brutal conflicts and
climate-induced disasters.

Their statements were strong, powerful and driven by
determination (see the collection of speaker’s
in this month’s Newsletter). This impressive gathering
recognized Education Cannot Wait’s innovative design and modus
operandi, specifically tailored to reach those left furthest behind
in emergencies and protracted crises.

Education Cannot Wait translates innovation into action. When a
climate-induced disaster hits Mozambique, Nepal or Peru, or when
hostilities escalate in Mali, South Sudan or Syria, ECW immediately
sets in motion a coordinated response that delivers on the ground
within weeks. Where protracted conflicts and forced displacement
keep children and adolescents out of school, leaving
crisis-affected governments to fend for themselves,
multi-year joint programming
brings together humanitarian and
development actors to jointly respond to the crisis and empower
governments to deliver on SDG4 in Afghanistan, Chad and Somalia,
and many others.

Between 2017 to 2019, 3.62 million girls and boys previously
left behind benefited from Education Cannot Wait’s investments.
In Uganda alone, enrollment and access to quality education for
refugees rose from 53% to 75%, while girls’ education in ECW
investments climbed to 60% in Afghanistan and Nigeria. When schools
shut down in April 2020 due to
, ECW unleashed its emergency reserves and dispersed
funding to over 50 grantees across 33 already crisis-affected
countries the very same month. When a devastating explosion took
place in
in August, ECW moved swiftly and invested in the
rehabilitation of damaged schools.

This response to crisis is possible because ECW optimizes other
reform efforts geared at innovation and improvement of the
multilateral crisis response, such as The New Way of Working, the
Grand Bargain and Humanitarian-Development Coherence. It empowers
and reinforce existing capacities and coordination structures
designed especially for crisis coordination and steers it to
prioritize education in the collective response. By doing so, ECW
facilitates the multilateral system’s ability to work with
greater speed and more sustainability in achieving SDG4 in
emergencies and protracted crisis – there, where we find those
left furthest behind.

Education Cannot Wait is about systemic change. As a pooled
funding mechanism exclusively dedicated to education in emergencies
and protracted crises, ECW is designed to leverage financial
resources to change the way we deliver inclusive and equitable
quality education to those left furthest behind. We know from our
growing evidence base that this innovation works.

“Education Cannot Wait is an example of how the United Nations
system delivers quality with speed to advance SDG4 leveraging the
best from across the UN family. Now is the time to take our work to
the next level,” affirmed the UN Deputy-Secretary General,

Amina J. Mohammed
, in her opening statement at ECW’s most
recent High-Level Steering Group, held during the UN General
Assembly Week in September.

Working closely with host governments and local communities, UN
agencies and civil society are the ones delivering on the ground.
When working together through joint programming and coordination,
they have the capacity to empower and support governments in crisis
to act with speed and deliver at scale to advance SDG4 amidst the
largest crisis-affected areas on the globe. Their challenge is not
a lack of capacity, coordination or commitment. Their most
significant challenge is the lack of funding to allow them to scale
up in delivering on SDG4 in crises.

Today, we cannot say that we do not know how to deliver quality
education in emergencies or protracted crises. Nor can we continue
to ponder what the humanitarian-development nexus might look like
in real life, nor assert that in-country host governments, UN
agencies and civil society do not coordinate. As
ECW’s Annual Results Report of 2019
illustrates, those who
work on the emergency frontlines are already doing so – they
model cooperation, coordination, speed and quality.

Still, they could do so much more if the required funding was
available. To scale up, they need an additional $1.2 billion to
reach an additional 5 million children and adolescents. ECW’s
immediate ask on their behalf is that of $300 million through

While the pandemic is pushing the world into a global recession,
the need for education funding for those left furthest behind has
never been greater. As
Baroness Liz Sugg
, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Foreign
and Development Affairs, stated during the ECW convened event at
UNGA: “Every single country around the work is under huge
economic pressure at the moment as a result of COVID-19, but that
is not a reason for inaction on education and investing in
communities ravished by conflict and crises.”

In the same spirit,
EU Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen
stated: “We must come
together to coordinate further our investments to our purpose of
leaving no children behind. ECW mobilizes a collective response to
urgent needs in education in emergencies. I am proud that that
European Union was part of its inception. We have a once in a
generation opportunity to reopen schools better than they were
before. Now more than ever, Education Cannot Wait.”

When crisis hits, we invent out of necessity. When an invention
works, we scale up. When we scale up that which works, we build
back better. Now, we need to fund it at scale.


The post Scaling Up
SDG4 in Crises
appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot

The post Scaling Up
SDG4 in Crises
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Scaling Up SDG4 in Crises