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Education Cannot Wait mobilizes an additional US$23.6 million to increase support for vulnerable children and youth – already affected by armed conflict, forced displacement and protracted crises – now doubly hit by COVID-19 pandemic

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With new contributions from Germany, the United States, Norway and the Netherlands, the total funds mobilized to date by Education Cannot Wait surpass US$650 million.

17 September 2020, New York -- World leaders today committed to expand education in emergency aid for children and youth impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic -- girls and boys already suffering the brunt of armed conflict, forced displacement, climate-change induced disasters and protracted crises -- with a focus on the most marginalized, including girls, refugees and children with disabilities.

The new political and financial pledges were made during today's global, high-level event "The Future of Education is Here for Those Left Furthest Behind", organized by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) on the margins of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The event was co-hosted by Canada, Colombia, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Two dozen political leaders, policymakers, influencers and youth advocates took the stage during the event, including education ministers from Burkina Faso, Colombia, Ethiopia and Somalia, as well as youth and teachers from the Greek islands, Lebanon, the State of Palestine, Syria, Uganda and Venezuela. They stressed the urgent need to collaborate and redouble efforts to avoid losing hard-won gains and reversing the progress recorded in recent years in political commitment and financing for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, German Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, announced an additional contribution of 8 million euros (US$9.5 million) to ECW in 2020, commending the Fund's rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months. "Thanks to ECW, partner countries have received urgently needed support very quickly. For many countries, it was the only support they received," she said. "I hope that other partners will also commit more funding, because solidarity and cooperation are more important now than ever before if we want to ensure that we leave no one behind," she added.

Working with a broad range of partners, ECW has disbursed over $60 million in emergency grants in 35 crisis-affected countries since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on reaching the most marginalized children and youth, including refugee, internally displaced and host communities girls and boys. ECW's COVID-19 response encompasses the full scope of needs of a child's well-being, including mental health and psychosocial support, and improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene and nutrition. Participants to the meeting stressed the importance of such a holistic approach to achieve education outcomes in crises.

"The United States strongly believes that education can be lifesaving and life-changing. That is why we are continuously striving to ensure that a focus on education is better incorporated into crisis responses around the globe and ensuring that the education provided also supports each child's broader well-being," said Carol Thompson O'Connell, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State, as she announced an additional contribution of $5 million to ECW.

More than 1.5 billion learners worldwide had their education disrupted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the coronavirus continues to upend entire communities, the economy, and social and education systems, children and youth who were already living in crisis settings are at particular risk of falling behind and being further marginalized. Out-of-school girls face increased risk of sexual violence, child marriage and early pregnancies. Children and youth living in extreme poverty, precarious conditions and forced displacement may never return to school -- this is particularly true for refugee children and youth, and even more so for adolescent refugee girls.

"The story about how humanity handled COVID-19 is being written now -- and education will figure in the conclusion. Let it not be the story of a lost generation -- nor of a community that abandoned its promise to 'leave no one behind' when push came to shove. Let it rather be the story of a global community that came together to ensure that the right to learning was upheld for all -- also for the COVID Generation," said Dag-Inge Ulstein, Norway's Minister for International Development, as he announced an additional contribution of NOK 20 million ($2.2 million) to ECW.

Today's new financial pledges to ECW add to the recent contribution of the Netherlands of 6 million euros ($6.9 million) announced at ECW's High-Level Steering Group meeting on 11 September, bringing the total funds mobilized by ECW in just four years of operations to over $650 million.

"We must stand by those left furthest behind and move with unprecedented speed, determination and commitment to financing an innovative idea and approach in the multilateral system, in the United Nations, that has proven to work. Education Cannot Wait is no longer a start up fund, but has now turned into a full-fledged global fund, reaching 4.5 million children and youth in crises and forced displacement. ECW enables us all to bring hope to those left furthest behind when they most need us," said The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the Education Cannot Wait High-Level Steering Group.

Since its inception in 2016, ECW has reached an estimated 4.5 million children and youth with inclusive, quality education in some of the worst humanitarian crises worldwide, half of whom are girls. Building on these achievements, ECW is appealing to public and private donors to urgently mobilize an additional $300 million to respond to the pandemic and other emergencies and protracted crises in the coming months.

"We are grateful to all our partners and stakeholders who form Education Cannot Wait. All results are your results. Today, I want to thank Germany, the United States, Norway and the Netherlands for additional generous financial contributions to Education Cannot Wait -- announced during the UN General Assembly week -- which allows us to continue with speed during the pandemic," said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. "At ECW, we believe that crises always lead to new opportunities. It is the choice we make that determines the outcome. We must all chose to give it our all and make Sustainable Development Goal 4 a reality for those left furthest behind. The future of their education must be now."

Today's event was also an opportunity for ECW to roll out a new donation feature in partnership with video communications platform Zoom and online fundraising platform Pledgeling. During the event, the audience was invited to make and view live donations to support Education Cannot Wait's work for children and youth caught in conflict and crises across the globe, raising over $14,000 in just two hours. Donations can still be made at www.pledgeling.com/ECW or, in the US, by texting 'ECW' to 707070.

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Note to Editors

Click here to watch the full recording of the high-level event "The Future of Education is Here for Those Left Furthest Behind."

Learn more on the high-level event: www.educationcannotwait.org/unga2020/

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