The Humanitarian Summit: Education Fund and Safe Schools Declaration

The Humanitarian Summit: Education Fund and Safe Schools Declaration

  • Posted: May 26, 2016 -
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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.

Investing in the Future: Why Education in Emergencies Cannot Wait

Investing in the Future: Why Education in Emergencies Cannot Wait

  • Posted: May 19, 2016 -
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Nora’s story is not unique. When she was three years old, she fled violence in Darfur, Sudan with her family and has been living in a refugee camp in Eastern Chad ever since. Going to school was not an obvious path for her. She sells biscuits in the market to help support her family and many girls like her are not in school.

In fact, 75 million children and adolescents aged 3-18 have had their education directly affected by emergencies and protracted crises. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only 50 percent of refugees or internally displaced persons are enrolled in primary school, 25 percent in lower secondary school, and very few have access to pre-primary or tertiary education.

On May 23 & 24, global leaders will gather in Istanbul, Turkey for the inaugural World Humanitarian Summit where a new initiative to mobilize support for education in emergencies will be launched.  Education Cannot Wait, a fund for education in emergencies will look to transform the global education sector for children affected by crises by focusing specifically on meeting their educational needs.

Nora, now 14 years old, is enrolled in a school run by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), a nonprofit organization rooted in the Jesuit tradition of educating young people. JRS currently operates education programs in more than 25 countries serving over 110,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.

In a new report – Providing Hope, Investing in the Future – JRS identifies a series of barriers faced by displaced families and children, including lack of legal status, poor infrastructure and lack of materials, change in language or curriculum, discrimination, significant learning gaps and dealing with the effects of trauma.

To address these barriers, JRS implements several key strategies, including:

  • Parental Involvement to Ensure Access and Retention
  • A Holistic Approach that Meets All Student Needs
  • Complementary Programs for Parents and Families
  • Investment in Teacher Training and Tertiary Education
  • Emphasis on Language Skills and Remedial Education
  • Youth Programming Focused on Life Skills and Leadership Training

Past investments in educational progress are in jeopardy as we face a record number of long-standing conflicts and resulting global displacement. At this important time, JRS calls on donors, governments and the humanitarian and development communities to take action. Access to education must be prioritized in all stages of humanitarian response with a focus on effective transitions to long-term sustainable solutions, in particular for protracted crises.

We must leverage the Education Cannot Wait Fund and other opportunities to address the lack of access to education for the forcibly displaced. Children like Nora are waiting for the opportunity to go to school and create a future for themselves and their families.


Giulia McPherson is the Assistant Director for Policy at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. In this capacity, she leads the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts as they relate to global education and U.S. asylum policies and oversees a community engagement program to educate and mobilize advocates. Giulia can be reached at or @giuliamcpherson.

Red umbrellas to march for public financing of education in Panama

Red umbrellas to march for public financing of education in Panama

  • Posted: May 12, 2016 -
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This April 26th, students and teachers from the Centro Profesional y Técnico (Professional and Technical Centre) Padre Joaquín López and López from Fe and Alegría Panama, gathered with red umbrellas in their hands, near the intersection of Pedregal, to join the international mobilizations that, on the occasion of the Global Action Week for Education, are held with open umbrellas to ask our politicians to protect the education and to allocate budget to fund the commitments they have made to ensure the Right to Education.
One of the main lessons learned in the last 15 years is that good intentions and political commitments can only be achieved when there is sufficient and quality funding.
2016 began with the approval of a new Agenda for Education, in which the world States give themselves another opportunity to ensure an inclusive, equitable and quality education and long-life learning for all people. The deadline: 2030.
Nowadays 124 million children and young people in the whole world do not go to school, 59 million of them have no access to primary education and 65 million do not attend high school.

They want to draw attention to the protection role that the school and the education have on children.
Specifically, they demand:
1. To sign the agreement by Meduca, where the Fe y Alegría teachers’ salaries are subsidized, this way ensuring the free education for many vulnerable students, as has been achieved in other countries.
2. To comply with the Agenda for Education 2030 commitments, in order to ensure a quality education, inclusive and equitable and promote long-time learning opportunities.
3. That the Government establish a clear plan to increase their contribution to fund the education.
4. An accounting for the society on how are meet the commitments signed for the Right to Education and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Education Cannot Wait: a fund for education in emergencies

Education Cannot Wait: a fund for education in emergencies

  • Posted: May 11, 2016 -
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One in four of the world’s school-aged children – 462 million – now live in countries affected by crisis.  Of these, 75 million children aged 3-18 years, living in 35 crisis-affected countries, are in desperate need of educational support.

Education for these children has long been neglected, but there is a growing recognition of its central importance. Built on extensive consultation and dialogue among a range of stakeholders, Education Cannot Wait – a fund for education in emergencies is an education crisis fund designed to transform the global education sector, including both humanitarian and development responses. It is based on a Overseas Development Institute proposal that aims to design a global operational model to fill the gap on financing, join planing and response, inspire political commitment, strenghten capacity and improve accountability on education during emergencies.


Launching at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, the platform 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.


This fund aims to raise nearly US$4 billion to reach 13.6 million children in need of education in emergencies within five years, with the goal to reach 75 million children by 2030 and will perfectly align to the fulfillment of the SDG 4 on quality education.


The updates on the report can be followed  through Twitter under the hashtag #EducationCannotWait  and the original article was extracted from the International Network for education in Emergencies.

Walk for Free and right financed Education in Guatemala

Walk for Free and right financed Education in Guatemala

  • Posted: May 03, 2016 -
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The civil society plays a key role in claiming the right financing for public education in the country and from this perspective, Fe y Alegría Guatemala supported the Walk for Free Education in the country last week.

Carlos Fritzen SJ, International Federation Fe y Alegría general coordinator pointed out that “as bottom and common framework, as challenges in education, we must highlight the lack of adequate financing to invest in education, so that education actually becomes quality education with holistic formation. We don’t want any kind of education but the best possible public education for everyone”

On its behalf, Fe y Alegría Guatemala coordinator, Miguel Cortez SJ, claimed: “unfortunately, Guatemala is one the countries that least invests in education of the region, we all know that, our education is not up for what we, Guatemalan people deserve and we should invest more in education. A quality education with a methodology that reaches all youngsters and children.”

It is worth reminding that, coinciding with the general elections that took place last October in Guatemala and that have concluded with the election of Jimmy Morales as President of the country, a large pool of Jesuit educational institutions have presented EJEGUA, a proposal for educational priorities that the new President will have to take into account in order to guarantee a public educational system that lives up to the Guatemalan population.

Click here to watch the full video on the Walk on Guatemalan Radio Television (Spanish language).

Claiming 4% of investment in education in Dominican Republic

Claiming 4% of investment in education in Dominican Republic

  • Posted: Apr 22, 2016 -
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The Coalition for Education with Dignity (CED) was created in order to put pressure on the government measures taken with regard to education. Their aim was to get the Dominican Republic to raise public investment in education, since right now it does note even reaches a 2.3%, when the minimum of GDP stipulated in the Education Act is a 4%. This helped the creation of the 4% movement whose purpose was to get the Dominican government to increase public investment in education to a minimum of 4%.

The CED published a political stance document in which they describe themselves as a social movement that aims to defend public management so that they can give a twist to the design of public policies, particularly the education one, so that they respond to collective benefit and not individual interests; and make education a space to form free, critical and creative people, able to participate and create a participative, equal, united and democratic society. Thus the CED opens a new form of political organization and expands its scope to the claim of improved public policy.

The success of the 4% campaign has two pillars. First of all, it is a process of maturation for an organized civil society, where individuals are able to work together and bring different groups together to same claims. And second of all, the campaign generates consciousness and a national monitoring strategy through training and awareness campaigns.

Likewise, in existing consultations, education emerged as the center of the political and social agenda of the country, making it a priority that has the citizenship consensus. Therefore, the CED focused on claiming a greater investment in education and other groups were able to join the cause.


Under this campaign, the CED calls on the population into the streets wearing something yellow as a symbol. Demonstrations in front of the main government buildings were organized, and people carried yellow umbrellas to draw the attention of walkers and politicians. After that, those umbrellas became the command of claim. Images and videos of the manifestations spread in social networks causing widespread outrage in society and the 4% claim became one of the hottest public opinion matters in the country.

This massive demand by the population was effective thanks to a straightforward and easy to understand message. With it, they achieved to place the issue on the national debate for nearly two months. Moreover, big personalities of the country as journalists, actors and singers, as well as national and international jurists and NGOs among others, joined to this “yellow umbrellas Revolution”.

This helped the campaign reaching national dimensions, and 91% of the Dominican population joined with a common aim, achieving the 4% minimum. Civil society was organized with a given work structure, whereby people’s efforts were channeled to achieve effective challenges in every area of the country. Along with this, the CED continued its acts of vindication in 2012 until the new president managed to approve a budget line of 4% of the GDP for the same year pre-university education.


The Global Action Week for Education kicks off

The Global Action Week for Education kicks off

  • Posted: Apr 22, 2016 -
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The Global Campaign for Education (GCE), under the motto “Fund the Future. Education rights now”, mobilizes to demand the political representatives to comply with their international commitments and to allocate the necessary resources in order to fund the education of all the people in the world.

In order to do so, the Global Action Week for Education will be celebrated in over 124 countries around the world. It will take place from the 25 to the 30 of April.  There are 124 million boys, girls and young people in the world that are out of school. 52.9 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa, 50.9 million in Asia and Pacific, 6.6 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, 8.7 million in the Arab States and 5 million spread in the rest of the world’s countries.

In 2015, 196 States signed the Sustainable Development Goals and they committed themselves to ensure that all the boys and girls have an inclusive and equitable quality education and a lifelong learning by 2030.

On the occasion of the Global Action Week for Education, the Global Campaign for Education calls for the attention of the education community, the media, the political representatives and society on the necessity of giving tangible effect to the right to a quality education under the motto “Education protects us, lets protect its funding”.

  • Education, an element of protection

Education is an element of protection. It contributes to the reduction of poverty, it saves lives, improves health, nutrition and the well-being of individuals and society. It also promotes sustainable development, peace, gender equality and fundamental freedoms.

But so that everyone can go to school it is necessary to take action in four areas: to have a school to which they can go and learn, to have enough qualified, motivated and paid teachers, to have adequate material and school furniture and to establish funded educational policies to ensure the compliance of the right to education.

  • International commitments about financing education

States need to devote between the 4 and the 6% of their GDP to education and particularly Spain needs to fulfill its commitment of devoting at least 8% of the ODA to basic education.

Even so, we would still need 39,000 million dollars to fund education. This no financing gap could be fixed if every donor country gave 14 cents per student each day.

  • Global Action Week for Education; an umbrella as a sign of protection

For all that has been said, the Global Action Week for Education will be celebrated from the 25 to the 30 of April in Spain, under the motto Education protects us, protect its funding “. There will be acts of mobilisation in over 30 cities where it is predicted that over 10000 students and teachers will participate to protest against the political representatives about this cause.

During the whole of this year, over 100 education centres have been working with the students with teaching materials on the topic of the protection of education. I will be those students the ones that will carry out the acts on the streets in what has been called “Umbrellas for Education”, using the umbrella as a sign of protection in education funding.

What are you doing during the week? How are you supporting the campaign? You can follow the activities of the week through #GAWE and #FundtheFuture

EFA Gender Report: Less than half of countries have achieved gender parity in education

EFA Gender Report: Less than half of countries have achieved gender parity in education

  • Posted: Mar 29, 2016 -
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The last new Gender Report compiled by UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report last October, 2015 shows that fewer than half of countries – of which none in sub-Saharan Africa – have achieved the goal of gender parity in both primary and secondary education, even though all were supposed to achieve it by 2005.

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO said “Educating a girl educates a nation. It unleashes a ripple effect that changes the world unmistakably for the better. We have recently set ourselves a new ambitious agenda to achieve a sustainable future. Success in this endeavor is simply not possible without educated, empowered girls, young women and mothers. “

The Report outlines that he number of countries that have achieved the goal of gender parity in both primary and secondary education has risen from 36 to 62 since 2000. Although 62 million girls are still denied their basic right to education, the number of outof-school girls has declined by 52 million in the last 15 years. Nonetheless, considerable challenges remain, with gender disparities widening at each cycle of the education system and the poorest girls remaining at stark disadvantage.

– PRIMARY: Girls continue to face the greatest challenges in accessing primary school. Almost half of out-of-school girls will never set foot in a classroom, equivalent to 15 million girls, compared with just over a third of boys who are out of school.
– SECONDARY: Gender disparities in secondary education are closing, but remain high. In 2012, at least 19 countries had fewer than 90 girls for every 100 boys in school. The disparity was greatest in the Arab States and sub-Saharan Africa. In the Central African Republic and Chad in 2012, half as many girls as boys were in secondary school.
– UPPER SECONDARY: Boys are more likely than girls to drop out of upper secondary education. Only 95 boys for every 100 girls complete this level, and the situation has barely changed since 2000. In OECD countries, 73% of girls compared to 63% of boys complete upper secondary education.
– LITERACY: Gender gaps in youth literacy are narrowing. However, fewer than seven out of every ten young women in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to be literate by 2015. The lack of progress in literacy among adult women is stark: two-thirds of adults who lack basic literacy skills are women, a proportion unchanged since 2000. Half of adult women in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa cannot read or write.
School-related gender based violence is one of the worst manifestations of gender discrimination and holds back education attainment. Likewise, child marriages remain a persistent barrier to girls’ education. In 2012, almost one in five women who married were aged 15 to 19.
In the Arab States, one fifth of the poorest girls have never been to school, compared to one tenth of the poorest boys. In Latin America and the Caribbean, boys are at a disadvantage: 55% of boys compared to 63% of girls in rural areas complete lower secondary education. Aaron Benavot, Director of the EFA GMR said: “Lacking any other way of measuring gender equality, we have focused on getting equal numbers of boys and girls in school. But we will never achieve this unless we tackle the roots of imbalance: social barriers and entrenched discriminatory social norms. Unless we begin to understand equality as a much broader concept, girls and young women will never be able to reap the full benefits of education.”

The report concludes with a serial of important recommendations to really promote the right to education to be exercised with parity and equality:
1. Education should be free. Really free.
2. Provide policies to address the problems that many boys face, as well as girls in accessing and completing education.
3. Alternative secondary education options should be provided for out-of-school adolescents.
4. Integrate gender issues into all aspects of policy and planning.
5. A mix of legislative change, advocacy & community mobilization is needed.
6. Work together! Governments, international organizations and education providers should join up to tackle school-related gender based violence.
7. Governments should recruit, train and support teachers effectively to address gender inequality.

Download full report here

Voices of Faith and JRS: giving vulnerable girls education and hope

Voices of Faith and JRS: giving vulnerable girls education and hope

  • Posted: Mar 18, 2016 -
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(Vatican Radio)

Did you know that there is a platform for “International Women’s Day” in the heart of the Vatican?
It’s called “Voices of Faith”, it’s at its third edition, and it takes place at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in the Vatican gardens.

The Gotz Foundation’s “Voices of Faith” is described as a storytelling event dedicated to the empowerment of women who have experienced trafficking, forced displacement, violence, forced early marriage, lack of education… simply for being female.
Chantal Gotz, founder of the “Voices of Faith” initiative and executive Director of the Fidel Gotz Foundation explains why she thinks it is important to bring women’s voices into the Vatican and how she hopes it will ultimately help to build a more just world.

She says that looking at the Church we see that one of its biggest concerns is social justice “and we have to admit that most of the work done is through women, but most of the women’s voices are not heard, the women are not visible”.
Gotz says her experience that has brought her into contact with many of these women on the field has so inspired her that she thinks that “maybe bringing in these stories, into the Church, into the heart of the Church (…) is worthwhile”.
She says that ultimately she hopes it will bring change because ‘storytelling’ touches the hearts and the souls of people and “finally it may also change the minds of persons” leading to a more just and right world.
One of the Gotz Foundation’s partners in this venture is Jesuit Refugee Service with its focus on education – and in particular the education of girls – as a key contribution to the needs and hopes of refugees.
Fr. Tom Smolich SJ is actually present at the “VoF” event on March 8, moderating a discussion which is headlined: “What women want – a multigenerational conversation expanding women’s leadership in the Church”.
Fr Joaquin Martinez SJ, JRS’s International Education Coordinator spoke to Linda Bordoni about the JRS “Mercy in Motion” campaign and of how education gives refugees hope and the tools not only to contribute to their new communities, but also to rebuild their old ones. And of how important it is in empowering girls and women – and even in keeping them safe!
Fr Martinez explains that the Gotz Foundation has been a strong supporter of JRS and that one of the goals of the “Mercy in Motion” campaign is to increase the number of students by another 100,00.
“Our especial emphasis on the education on the education of young women and girls” he says.
This, he points out, is of particular interest to the Gotz Foundation. He explains that JRS believes that education gives hope to people and it allows them to transend some of the situations in which they find themselves.
“It’s a lot harder for young women and girls because – for example – in a refugee camp access to the school, having to cross the camp can be unsafe if you are a young girl” he says.
And often girls, he said, are expected to help with household chores or to help with livelihood for the community, or are perhaps married off when very young: they are all denied the right to education.
“The number of girls who are refugees and are in primary education, in secondary education drops very steeply due to a number of factors in their lives” he says.
Fr Martinez says that of the estimated 60 million people who are on the move today less than one percent of them go on to obtain access to higher education.
He says that what JRS is trying to do is to increase the numbers of people who receive secondary education because that allows them to access higher education afterwards.

And JRS, he says, operates across all divides.

“About 70 percent of the people we work with are Muslim because most of the refugees in the world today are Muslim and we run schools irrespective of the religious affiliation of the people we serve” he says.

Original article published in Vatican Radio

Infographics: 60% of the 781 million adults who lack literacy are women

Infographics: 60% of the 781 million adults who lack literacy are women

  • Posted: Mar 18, 2016 -
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The Beijing Plataform for Action, an international organization depending on UN Women for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women has recently published a serial of visual numbers (infographics) to show and report on the great discrimination women live every day in the world in terms of human rights. We join this claim and highlight the importance of working towards the effective access of every woman, no matter her economic or social condition, to longlife quality education.

Take a look at the shameful numbers.


Human Rights of Women

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