The First Humanitarian Summit that has taken place this week in Istanmbul has come to an end and different actors have accompanied and served the process to make feasible an Education Fund to provide education in emergencies; the Jesuit Refugee Service, under the lead of its Director Tom Smolich SJ organized a side event on quality education called: Delivering quality education: What needs to be done? in collaboration with other education organizations like Educate a Child, Save the Children International, MBC Hope and Dubai Cares.
UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, welcomed the new Education Cannot Wait—a fund for education in emergencies that was launched at a special session of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in the presence of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The Fund’s immediate aim is to raise $3.85 billion over the next five years to reach 13.6 million children whose education has been disrupted by conflict and other humanitarian emergencies. The Fund is expected to reach 75 million children and youth by 2030. One in four of the world’s school-aged children, nearly half a billion, live in countries affected by crisis. They are either missing out on their education, receiving poor quality schooling or run the risk of dropping out of school.
On its behalf, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is gratified the international community made a commitment to education through this Fund, which follows on the heels of the JRS Global Education Initiative launched last December.
“Education Cannot Wait is an important step forward in helping to ensure that the most vulnerable and disenfranchised have access to an education,” said Jesuit Refugee Service International Director Fr Thomas H Smolich SJ in Istanbul. “JRS feels education is always part of any emergency situation.”
Dean Brooks, Director of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, said, “we’ve been fighting to get to a moment like this for a very long time, so many people and organizations have come together to create this moment.”
In the report Providing Hope, Investing in the Future: Education in Emergencies & Protracted Crises, JRS confirms that education is a life-saving intervention for children and adolescents who are forcibly displaced from their homes. For decades, in emergencies where many agencies provide basic humanitarian assistance, JRS has been on the ground organizing educational and recreational activities to heal trauma, promote human dignity, and build skills.
The new Fund aligns with UNESCO’s work as the lead UN agency entrusted with the coordination of Sustainable Development Goal 4, “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
A policy paper, ‘No more excuses’, released ahead the World Humanitarian Summit published by UNESCO shows that only 50% of refugee children are in primary school and 25% of refugee adolescents are in secondary school.
At governamental level, The Safe Schools Declaration, developed through state consultations led by Norway and Argentina in Geneva throughout the first half of 2015, provides states the opportunity to express broad political support for the protection and continuation of education in armed conflict, and is the instrument for states to endorse and commit to implement the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. The Declaration was opened for endorsement at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools convened by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 29, 2015. A first group of 37 states endorsed it that day and that number has since grwon up to 53 after de Summit.
All efforts at different levels are welcome to make the effective right to education for everyone in the emergencies and protacted crisis contexts.