We Own Our Choice to Finance Education

There is a stillness to the tent as I enter. This is a place of loss and pain, yet also a place of resilience and hope; everything coming together all at once.

Here in Tanganyika Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), six out of ten girls will be married before they turn 18 - becoming mothers while they are still children themselves. There in the tent, I met 15-year-old Angel (name changed to protect her identity), sitting with her toddler, a boy, on her lap.

Angel is learning to become a seamstress. This tent is her classroom. Here, together with dozens of other young teenage mothers, she learns and practices her skills. Within the tent, beyond these much needed academic and vocational skills to help her create a better life, this is also a safe space where Angel and her peers can share experiences and access mental health and psychosocial support services.

Angel and the other girls live in a camp hosting internally displaced persons. Children here have been subjected to horrific violence no child should ever experience. Some are survivors of rape, others were forced to join armed groups, or lost parents in the violence. Some live with vivid memories of having to flee for their lives while their villages were razed to the ground. 

As I sit and listen to Angel’s story, I observe her. She is a child plagued by trauma and yet she is so mature, focused and determined. She wants to become a woman leader to help other young girls like her get an education and become strong and self-reliant. Her capacity for empathy is extraordinary. She speaks less about herself and more about the suffering and hopes of others. With an education and psycho-social support to heal her wounds, she will become that woman leader. I believe this intensely.

We all have the potential for immense empathy - that incredibly profound force that moves us to action for others. We all have the potential to transform promises into concrete action for the 222 million crisis-affected children and adolescents who urgently need education support.

Deep within, we know that a looming recession and budget constraints cannot compare to the ordeal of young girls subjected to systematic rape and terror, depriving them of a childhood. If Angel can, then we can. It is just a question of making a moral choice. A choice that defines who we really are, our identity and purpose in the world. Angel inspires us all with her courageous choice.

On my recent, productive joint mission with the British Embassy in DRC and UNICEF, as in so many other crisis-contexts around the world, I saw first-hand the very concrete results and impact of ECW’s education investments in Tanganyika. ECW funding supports a comprehensive package which provides safe learning spaces, mental health and psychosocial support, school meals, trained teachers, water and sanitation, academic studies and vocational training.

This is possible thanks to financial investments by our strategic donor partners and the well-coordinated multi-sectoral response by our implementing partners in the government, including the local government (the Governor being a woman), village leaders, UNICEF, WFP, Armée du Salut, CENEAS and other local and community-based civil society, working together. The multi-year resilience joint programme supports vulnerable children, including those displaced by violence, girls, teenage mothers, and former child soldiers to heal and re-integrate in society through education.

Education restores their human dignity. It empowers girls like Angel to become part of a new generation that will break the bonds of forced child marriage and challenge the threats of sexual violence.  It unites communities divided by years of local conflicts and nurtures peace.

To date, the lives of over 30,000 girls and boys and their communities have been transformed in Tanganyika through education. But this is not enough: an additional US$45 million is urgently required to expand this successful model of holistic education to other crisis-affected areas in the DRC to tap into their resilience and deliver on their hope.

Across the globe, and together with our partners, ECW-investments have already reached 7 million crisis-affected girls and boys with a holistic, child-centred quality education. These are the 7 million other ‘Angels’, rising from the shadows towards the hope, protection and opportunities offered by education. After all they have endured, these ‘Angels’ enlighten and motivate the rest of us to rise up to our high standards of empathy, courage and action. If they can, we can. Indeed, we must.

Globally, 222 million crisis-impacted girls and boys urgently need education support, with more than 78 million of them out of school entirely. These shocking numbers are unacceptable in the 21st century.  

Recent estimates indicate that the global financing gap to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 4 could be as high as $200 billion annually. It will take perseverance, passion - and, of course - partnership to address this gap, as stated by Theirworld President Justin W. van Fleet in this month’s high-level interview. In our cooperation with Theirworld, ECW has, like with so many of our partners, shown that the impossible is indeed possible.

In the spirit of reviving multilateralism and our commitment to the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals and a plethora of conventions and resolutions, we too can rise, like Angel, to bring hope through action.

Education requires financing. ECW is convening our High-Level Financing Conference (HLFC) next February in Geneva. Hosted by Switzerland and Education Cannot Wait – and co-convened by Germany, Niger, Norway, South Sudan and Colombia – the HLFC calls on government donors, private sector, foundations and high-net-worth individuals to turn commitments into action by making substantive funding contributions towards ECW’s four-year Strategic Plan, as outlined in our Case for Investment.  Our cause: to help make #222MillionDreams ✨📚 come true through quality education to ensure a better life of dignity and hope for crisis-affected children and youth worldwide.

We know that each of our strategic donors and partners are #BestInClass, and that by working together, we can empower Angel and girls and boys like her to triumph over adversity. Yes, we can and must be fearless, focused and determined just like her. It is a moral choice. We owe it to Angel and the 222 million girls and boys caught in the most violent and brutal parts of the globe.

The choice we make will define who we are, why we are here and reveal whether we too have the empathy, strength and determination exemplified by Angel and 222 million crisis-affected children and youth who desperately need education. In spite of all they have endured and survived, all they ask for is their inherent human right to a quality education so they can rise up again. If we choose not to act, their fall will one day be our own failure. But if we choose to act, their triumph will be ours, too. We own our choice to finance education.

Yasmine Sherif  
Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
Director's Corner


ECW Interviews Theirworld President Justin W. van Fleet

“At Theirworld, we want to ‘unlock big change’ for the world’s children. That means we are constantly looking for opportunities to bring people together through advocacy and campaigning to create a real difference.” ~Theirworld President Justin W. van Fleet 
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ECW and UNICEF, with Partners, Call for Substantial Increase in Funding for Crisis-Affected Children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

ECW-supported joint programme with UNICEF, WFP, government, civil society and communities in the Kalemie area of Tanganyika province offers a compelling model for increasing access to education – especially for girls – by addressing gender-based violence and building a secure post-conflict future.
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ECW Announces US$2 Million First Emergency Response Grant to Refugees from the Central African Republic arriving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Delivered by UNHCR in coordination with the Government of the DRC and civil society partners, new investment provides educational support for refugees from the Central African Republic and host-community children and adolescents.

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“@EduCannotWait is a great example of emergency development in action. We need more instruments like ECW.” ~@UN_Lemarquis

.@EduCannotWait is a great example of emergency development in action in crisis settings – because development cannot wait! Humanitarian responses address emergency needs; longer-term approaches address structural causes. We need more instruments like ECW. Merci @YasmineSherif1 for your visit! ~ @UN_Lemarquis
Stay tuned to ECW’s forthcoming High-Level Interview with the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Humanitarian/Development Coordinator in DRC, Mr. Bruno Lemarquis.
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#ECW delegation, together with @UNICEF DRC & British Embassy in DRC, visit Mpungwe Village to inaugurate Lubile Primary School, built with ECW funding

Watch video Here

ECW Announces US$11.8 Million Catalytic Grant for Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Haiti

Implemented jointly by UNICEF and WFP in partnership with the Government of Haiti, new grant seeks to catalyze US$16.7 million in additional funding to reach 45,000 crisis-impacted children and adolescents.
English | French | Creole

Afghanistan’s Girls and Women Fight Back: Project Syndicate Op-Ed by The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown and ECW Director Yasmine Sherif

Thousands of Afghan women and girls have taken to the streets to protest the repeated violation of their right to an education. Afghan women and girls are fighting for their rights, but they need help, writes The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown and ECW Director Yasmine Sherif in an inspiring Op-Ed featured on Project Syndicate and media outlets worldwide.
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ECW’s #222MillionDreams✨📚 Campaign in Advance of #HLFC2023

In the lead up to February’s High-Level Financing Conference in Geneva, strategic partners are joining ECW to highlight the urgent need to mobilize more resources as we race to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Join the Campaign | Watch Videos | Donate  

Philanthropy Age: Interview with ECW Director Yasmine Sherif

Armed conflict, climate-induced disaster and forced displacement have disrupted the education of 222 million children globally. ECW Director Yasmine Sherif outlines how philanthropy and partnerships can help in this inspiring Op-Ed featured on Philanthropy Age.
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ECW Joins Strategic Partners to Ignite Action from the G20

The G20 has become an influential driving force in global financial policy and the undersigned organizations call on you to ensure education financing is included in this year’s G20 Leaders’ Declaration - so that we can chart a better future for all. Learn more in this open letter to the Government of Indonesia.
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Education for Peace & Security: UN Day Statement by ECW Director Yasmine Sherif

As the world marks United Nations Day, let us remember why the United Nations was created and the spirit of its founders. In 1945 and the ensuing years, there was optimism, hope and determination to achieve peace, security and human rights for all.
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Global Advocacy Builds Momentum Toward High-Level Financing Conference

With our strategic partners, ECW accelerated its advocacy push in lead up to the High-Level Financing Conference. ECW Director Yasmine Sherif continued her tireless advocacy push with featured stories on Project Syndicate, Yahoo and MSN. ECW’s advocacy efforts reached a total potential global audience of 2.4 billion in October.
Forbes | MSN | Project Syndicate | BBC Afrique | UNESCO | World Education Blog (UNESCO)  | Arab News | UN News | Philanthropy Age | Free Press Journal | Child Rights Resource Centre | The Jordan Times | Europa Press | Benzinga | MENAFN | SCOOP | ReliefWeb | Yahoo! Finance | Yahoo News | Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine | One News Page | IndiaTimes | October Social Media Moment


Accelerated Learning Programmes in Ethiopia

Two young Ethiopian girls are one step closer to achieving their dreams of quality education with support from an innovative ECW-funded programme delivered jointly by World Vision and UNICEF.
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New Way of Working: Addressing the Forgotten Learning Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through Strategic Partnerships

Education Cannot Wait
Fruitful discussion w/Julie Ngungwa Mwayuma, Governor of #Tanganyika & #ECW @UNICEFDRC+@UKinDRC delegation in #DRC🇨🇩. Together, we can increase access to quality + #HolisticEducation for crisis-affected children & youth to reach their full potential. #222MillIonDreams ✨📚
Share Tweet and stay tuned for ECW’s upcoming high-level interview with Mr. Bruno Lemarquis, Deputy Representative of the Secretary-General and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the DRC

Partnerships Drive Results for Crisis-Affected Children in the DRCongo

Education Cannot Wait
“Thanks to #ECW support, we can provide and enhance access to #QualityEducation & alternative learning opportunities for all children, especially girls who have suffered so much.” ~@UNICEFDRC Representative @Grant_Leaity
@UNICEF #222MillionDreams ✨📚
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ECW-supported, WFP and Civil Society-run School Canteen at Lubile Primary School Means Students Are No Longer Going Hungry

Education Cannot Wait
#Mpungwe Village's first school, Lubile Primary School – supported by #ECW funding – includes a @WFPDRC school canteen implemented w/#ArméeDuSalut! Having a meal at school every day helps vulnerable children+youth in #DRC access & stay in #school! #222MillionDreams✨📚
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ECW, British Embassy in DRC, UNICEF & Other Partners Meet with Village Chiefs in Mpungwe Village, DRC

Education Cannot Wait
Uplifting day 3 of #ECW's mission to #DRC! #ECW's @YasmineSherif1, @UNICEFDRC's @Grant_Leaity & @UKinDRC @LauraMazal are greeted by Village Chiefs to inaugurate the 1st school in Mpungwe Village – built with ECW-funding & supported by @WFPDRC+#ArméeDuSalut & local orgs.
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German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze United in Commitment to Feminist Development Policy

Svenja Schulze
My first meeting on my trip to the @WorldBank Annual Meetings was a very special one: the inaugural meeting of the like-minded women's network in international cooperation. We are united by our commitment to a #feministdevelopmentpolicy.
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ECW Offers Warm Welcome to UK Minister of State The Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell

Education Cannot Wait
"#ECW welcomes the appointment of The Rt. Hon. @AndrewmitchMP as Minister of Development @FCDOGovUK!" ~@YasmineSherif1. We look forward to continued close collaboration to advance education in emergencies & protracted crises, incl. #GirlsEducation. @UN @FCDOEducation @FCDOGEC.
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ECW Director Yasmine Sherif Welcomes Johan Forssell as Sweden’s New Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade

Yasmine Sherif
Gratulationer @JohanForssell @EduCannotWait. FN’s resultats- drivna fond - ser fram emot ett starkt sammarbete för att ge barn och ungdomar i krig en bra utbildning så att de kan bygga upp på nytt och bättre.
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ECW Mission to Ukraine Prioritizes an End to Attacks on Schools and Safe Reopening of Schools

Education Cannot Wait
ECW mission to #Ukraine. The deliberate attacks on education are clear, yet the resilience of communities to rebuild is the priority. ECW will collaborate w/@Mon_Ukraine to prioritize the safe return to learning, reopen schools+provide MHPSS in Ukraine's Multi-Year Resilience Programme.
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‘Education in Emergencies and Protracted Crises Needs Funding’ ~ Leonardo Garnier, Special Adviser for the Transforming Education Summit

Education Cannot Wait
“As @YasmineSherif1 said, the #EiEPC sector needs funding, funding, funding. These are situations of countries that cannot finance their own education during periods of crisis." ~ @LeoGarnier, Special Adviser of the @UN SG for @TransformingEdu Summit. #UNDay @GlobalPeaceand5
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Send My Friend To School Coalition Calls on UK Government to Support ECW

Education Cannot Wait
222M crisis-affected children are desperate to learn & dream of a brighter future. Thank you @SendMyFriend for joining #ECW's call on strategic partners to help close the financing gap for #education & help make #222MillionDreams✨📚 a reality! More →
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Washington D.C. Mission Brings Partners Together

Yasmine Sherif
Great trip to DC. Love meeting a wide array of @educannotwait stakeholders and feel our shared vision and vibes! We all yearn to make a difference - whether we are in the UN, the entertainment industry, government or civil society. That’s the beauty of #onehumanity
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Canada and ECW Re-Establish Safe Learning Environments in Yemen

Development Canada
Teachers are the foundation of education. But in #Yemen, education is in crisis.  Learn more about Canada’s partnership with @EduCannotWait and @Bfdyemen to re-establish safe learning environments for all. #WorldTeachersDay
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Global Citizen Calls on Australia to Increase Aid Budget With Renewed Focus on Education in Emergencies

Education Cannot Wait
@GlblCtzn calls on Australia to increase aid budget – incl. for #EiEPC! "#ECW is dedicated to ensuring crises do not stand in the way of learning. The upcoming federal budget is the perfect time for #Australia to commit to the Fund." More → #222MillionDreams✨📚
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ECW, UNICEF and UK Embassy in DRC Inaugurate Primary School

Education Cannot Wait
#ECW High-Level Mission to #DRC. ECW delegation visits Mpungwe Village to inaugurate Lubile Primary School - the 1st school in Mpungwe (and built and implemented w/#ECW-funding)! Through collective action w/@UNICEFDRC @UKinDRC , WFP, local government and civil society we're reaching those left furthest behind with holistic and inclusive quality education! #222MillionDreams✨📚
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ECW and UNICEF Libya Advance Non-Formal Education and Training Classes

Non-formal educational classes & training continue. With funding from @EduCannotWait, @UNICEF with partners are conducting in-person classes (30-hour cycle) across three months. Students complete a pre-test and then take a test to assess progress at the end of each cycle.
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ECW and Bonyan Restore Classroom Learning for Internally Displaced Children in Syria

Better Shelter
We're always happy to celebrate our partnership with @BonyanOrg. Together with @UNICEF & @EduCannotWait @YasmineSherif1 restored classroom learning for over 6,000 displaced children in #Syria. Revisit the project here:…  ©Ali Haj Suleiman
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Celebrating World Teachers’ Day: 5 October 2022

Teachers have the power to transform lives. In the chaotic and challenging contexts of emergencies and protracted crises, teachers tend to carry the brunt and heaviest burden.
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Commemorating World Mental Health Day: 10 October 2022

ECW highlights the crucial importance of mental health and wellbeing as a central component of healing and learning in crises.
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International Day of the Girl Child: 11 October 2022

Every October 11, we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, recognizing that girls are just as critical to economic growth as boys and understanding that the barriers girls face to an education are often multiplied in emergency and crisis situations.
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Marking World Food Day: 16 October 2022

ECW and its strategic partners, including the World Food Programme (WFP) and civil society, deliver school feeding programmes and other nutritional supports to keep children healthy and in school. 
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Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises. ECW was established during the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to help reposition education as a priority on the humanitarian agenda, usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground and foster additional funding to ensure that every crisis-affected child and young person is in school and learning. Figures for donor contributions and pledges are rounded up. Variations may occur due to exchange rates and fluctuations from local currencies to $US. 

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