Education Cannot Wait: a Fund for Education in Emergencies


75 million children aged 3-18 years living in crisis-affected countries are in desperate need of educational support. For too long education for these children has been neglected and deprioritized, but there is now a growing recognition of the critical importance of education in humanitarian crisis. As a result, the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 will see the launch of Education Cannot Wait – a Fund for Education in Emergencies which has been designed to unite global and national actors to generate the shared political, operational and financial commitment needed to meet the education needs of the millions of children and young people affected by crises.

ECW_the need

The new fund emerges from a yearlong multi-stakeholder process of analysis, design and consultation. It is designed to transform the global education sector, including both humanitarian and development responses, and it aims to deliver a more collaborative, agile, and rapid response to education in emergencies in order to fulfill the right to education for children and young people affected by crises. It is about both restoring hope to millions of children and demonstrating that the governments who signed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal pledge intend to keep their promise.

Core Functions and Operationalization of the Fund

Five core functions have been identified for the Fund, each of which directly address obstacles which were identified as playing a significant role in preventing or limiting education responses in humanitarian crises:

  1. Inspire political commitment
  2. Expand and coordinate planning and response
  3. Generate and disburse new funding
  4. Build national and global capacity
  5. Strengthen accountability and evidence

ECW_the proposal

The Fund will be operationalized through two mechanisms:

The Acceleration Facility (5 percent) will provide “catalytic support grants” to global and regional players so they can improve the effectiveness, the cost-effectiveness and scale of existing approaches to education in emergencies.

The Breakthrough Fund (95 per cent) will support country-level initiatives undertaken by governments and implementing partners and include:

  • A rapid-response mechanism focused on returning children and youth to education. The mechanism will fund safe learning spaces, teaching and learning materials, innovative delivery models and psychosocial support. It will also invest in improving planning for short- and medium-term needs.
  • A multi-year window that supports long-term plans and the provision of learning opportunities and consolidates existing humanitarian and education sector plans, facilitating a coherent, coordinated approach.
  • A pop-up facility that enables non-traditional donors such as the private sector and philanthropists to quickly and easily channel financial support to a specific country, region or part of a country’s national plan, without cumbersome procedures that often hinder timely support for education in emergencies. ECW_modalities

The Education Cannot Wait Fund will scale up resource mobilization over the first five years, commencing with an aim to raise approximately $150 million in the first year and with an ambition to bring funding to a level of $1.5 billion in the fifth year. This involves an overall 5-year fundraising ambition of $3.85 billion.

ECW_the next steps

The Fund’s resource mobilisation efforts will aim to bring in new, untapped resources, rather than reallocating existing funds. However, the Education Cannot Wait Fund is not intended to close the overall funding gap in education in emergencies and protracted crises. It has been designed to act as a catalyst and its approaches are designed to incentivise interest, action and additional funding, from across the humanitarian and development continuum.

The Fund will be established and hosted at UNICEF initially. A decision regarding the permanent home of the Fund and its relationships with existing mechanisms will be made after the first year of the Fund’s operation. This will be informed by a formal review of hosting opportunities which will include a call for expression of interest from potential hosts.

Last update: 23 May 2016

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