New UK support to provide emergency education to 20 million children in crisis 

Funding for Education Cannot Wait (ECW) will provide safe learning spaces, teaching materials and psychological and social support to the world’s most vulnerable children.

Around the world, 222 million children and adolescents affected by war, disaster and displacement need education support.

Since 2017, ECW has supported over 30 crisis-affected countries and reached 7 million children – most recently announcing $7 million in response to the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

We refuse to give up on the 222 million children and adolescents affected by the horrors of war, disaster and displacement.

Andrew Mitchell will today (Thursday, 16 February) announce UK funding to help provide education for 20 million children living in humanitarian crises around the world, from Ukraine to Syria.

The £80 million contribution to the work of Education Cannot Wait (ECW) over the next four years will help to keep children safe and offer them education during extreme weather events, conflicts and pandemics. ECW is the UN global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Since its inception in 2017, the fund has given multi-year support to over 30 crisis-affected countries, trained 87,000 teachers and reached 7 million children and adolescents, of whom 48% were girls. In response to the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) has recently announced $7 million in funding to provide vital support for vulnerable children and young people to keep them safe and learning.

The UK is proud to be a co-founding member of ECW and remains a leading donor. These contributions reflect the UK’s commitment to prioritising education in emergencies, including for girls and the most vulnerable.

Andrew Mitchell will make the announcement at a financing conference for ECW in Geneva.

Minister of State for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell said:

“I’ve just returned from Niger where I saw how education is transforming the lives of young people who have been displaced by conflict and food shortages.  

“Educating children and young people affected by crises is one of the biggest challenges we face – from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, to the recent devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria and not forgetting a generation of girls being cruelly banned from attending school in Afghanistan. 

“We are renewing our commitment to education in emergencies because we refuse to give up on the 222 million children and adolescents affected by the horrors of war, disaster and displacement. Education can provide a lifeline through to a better future.”

Today the UK is pledging £80m over the four-year period 2023-2026 to ECW as part of a £90m package to provide support for education in crises. ECW aims to support 20 million children in crisis affected countries during this period.

As well as supporting ECW the UK is investing in other partners to ensure expert education support can be quickly mobilised in the event of a crisis – such as responding to the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait Yasmine Sherif said:

“This ground-breaking pledge from the United Kingdom is a crucial step towards making good on our global promise to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals in armed conflicts, climate disasters and forced displacement: for the 222 million crisis-affected children and adolescents who urgently need quality education. This is our investment today to empower them and build a better world for generations to come.”   

Children in fragile and conflict-affected countries are more than twice as likely to be out of school than those in countries not affected by conflict.

A recent study by ECW estimates that 222 million children affected by crises need educational support.

Girls are particularly affected and are at higher risk of sexual violence and trafficking. In crisis-affected countries, only 27% of refugee girls are enrolled in secondary school.

The UK has a longstanding commitment to support global education needs, spanning early years, primary and secondary education, to higher education and skills.

Today’s pledge will  make an important contribution to the G7 global objective to get 40 million more girls in school by 2026 and 20 million girls reading by the age of ten or the end of primary school. The UK secured agreement to these key global targets during its Presidency of the G7 in 2021.