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Global Population Of Crisis-impacted Children Hits 222 Million – Report

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The number of crisis-impacted school-aged children around the world requiring educational support has grown from an estimated 75 million in 2016 to 222 million today, according to a new report.

The report which was released by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, stated that out of the 222 million crisis-affected children and adolescents, as many as 78.2 million are out of school, and close to 120 million are in school, but not achieving minimum proficiency in mathematics or reading.

The ECW supports quality education outcomes for refugee, internally displaced and other crisis-affected girls and boys, so no one is left behind. The organization works through the multilateral system to both increase the speed of responses in crises and connect immediate relief and longer-term interventions through multi-year programming.

The report also indicated that one in ten crisis-impacted children attending primary or secondary education is actually achieving these proficiency standards.

The analysis indicates that 84 percent of the out-of-school crisis-impacted children are living in areas with protracted crises. The vast majority of these are in countries specifically targeted through ECW’s ground-breaking multi-year investments, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.

The war in Ukraine, according to the report, is pushing even more children out of school, with recent estimates indicating the conflict has impacted 5.7 million school-aged children.

These alarming new figures are released against the backdrop of a recent ECW study showing that the response to education in emergencies and protracted crises remains chronically underfunded, and that the funding gap appears to have gotten even worse since the COVID-19 pandemic.

To respond to this pressing global education crisis, ECW and strategic partners launched the #222MillionDreams resource mobilization campaign in Geneva today.

Notably, the campaign calls on donors, the private sector, philanthropic foundations and high-net-worth individuals to urgently mobilize more resources to scale up ECW’s investments, which are already delivering quality education to over 5 million children across more than 40 crisis-affected countries.

The campaign rallies together donors and other strategic partners in the lead up to the Education Cannot Wait High-Level Financing Conference ­- co-hosted by ECW and Switzerland, and co-convened by Germany, Niger, Norway, and South Sudan, taking place 16-17 February 2023 in Geneva.

Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group said the financial resources to ensure that every child and young person can receive a quality education exist in the world.

“Now, we need to take responsible action for the 222 million children and youth in emergencies and protracted crises. Governments, private sector and foundations can and must unlock these resources. Only then can we empower them to reach their potentials and realize their dreams”, he said.

Director of ECW, Yasmine Sherif said this is a global call to action and that they are speaking of the 222 million dreams representing each of the 222 million children and adolescents sustaining the extreme hardship of emergencies and protracted crises.

“Their dreams are profoundly driven by their experience of wars and forced displacement. This is our moment to empower them to turn their dreams into reality.

While the world struggles with the devastating impacts of armed conflicts, COVID-19 and climate change, 222 million children and adolescents live through these horrific experiences.

“They dream to become their full potential rather than a victim. Do not let them down. It is our duty to empower them through quality education and to help make their dreams come true”, she added.

Similarly, the Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Patricia Danzi noted that in times of crisis, children experience uncertainty with regard to their future and are faced with a total disruption of their routines.

Danzi added that going to school provides children with protection, a sense of normalcy and hope and is a means to provide longer-term perspectives.

“We know that after school disruption and closures, many children will not continue their education. Switzerland is committed to contribute to reducing the risk of lost generations through its support to education in emergencies. We are thus partnering with Education Cannot Wait and look forward to co-hosting the High-Level Financing Conference in Geneva”, she stressed.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres said: “We need governments, businesses, foundations and individuals to support the vital work of Education Cannot Wait. Help us place education within reach of every child, everywhere. Around the world, 222 million children are having their education cruelly interrupted. Help us keep 222 million dreams alive”.

Meanwhile, global leaders have committed to “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all” through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG4).

The new estimates indicate that COVID-19 and other factors have derailed two decades of education gains. According to UN reports, basic school infrastructure is lacking in many Least Developed Countries. Only 54 percent of schools have access to safe drinking water, 33 percent have reliable electricity and 40 percent have hand washing facilities.

The UN chief is convening the “Transforming Education Summit” in September 2022. The Summit seeks to “mobilize political ambition, action, solutions and solidarity to transform education: to take stock of efforts to recover pandemic-related learning losses; to reimagine education systems for the world of today and tomorrow; and to revitalize national and global efforts to achieve SDG4.”

On the heels of the Summit, the ECW High-Level Financing Conference is the opportunity for leaders to turn commitments into action, by making substantive funding contributions to ECW that will help turn dreams into reality for the children left furthest behind in crises.


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