By Alexis Rodrigo
Conflict and humanitarian emergencies have created a global education crisis that is limiting the futures of more than 200 million children around the world.
“[When we were established], there were 75 million youth whose education was disrupted. Today, there are 222 million of them,” said Yasmine Sherif, director of Education Cannot Wait
(ECW), the United Nations’ global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. Sherif spoke about the global education crisis in a new interview with Michael Messenger, President and CEO of World Vision Canada
“It is the dream of each and every one of these children who are today suffering, enduring, resilient as they are in the refugee camps … to learn and grow and mature and realize their potential and to be able to tell their story one day to the world,” Sherif said.
Education as the ‘magical key’ of all human rights
is the very foundation for all human rights,” Sherif said. “It's the one fundamental right that if that was delivered to every child and every adolescent on the globe…they can unlock all other human rights, all other sustainable development goals.”
“You cannot achieve gender equality without educating all girls. How can you end extreme poverty if you cannot read or write? So, education is the magical key, the foundational key for all other rights,” Sherif said.
ECW wants to turn that key with its #222MillionDreams Campaign. The campaign calls on world leaders to substantively increase funding in order to reach the 222 million children who are left furthest behind in emergencies and crises. Education is also a recognized form of child protection from violence, including early and forced marriage.
ECW estimates that the funding gap to provide safe and inclusive quality education to these children is $1.5 billion USD. The organization has organized a global conference in February 2023 to mobilize resources and fill this gap.
“These children in the refugee
camps, in the Sahel or IDP (internally displaced persons) camps or among host communities, those who have fled an international border as refugees, those who have stayed in Aleppo or who live in the countryside of Afghanistan in the mountains, or the Rohingya refugees at Cox’s Bazar—they have lost everything. But you cannot take away the dream,” Sherif said. “If you give them the education that they deserve and are entitled to, you can also sustain their hope.”
How Canadians can help
With support from the Government of Canada, World Vision has been hosting the Refugee Education Council
. The Council is made up of 15 refugee youth and young people from host communities who have lived experience related to forced displacement.
The Council members’ role is to inform the Government of Canada’s Together for Learning Campaign
, an international campaign to give refugee and displaced children better access to quality education.
World Vision also supports education programs in communities experiencing poverty, emergencies and crises.
“I’ve been out there across Latin America, the Venezuelan refugee crisis and also in Africa, and I’ve seen the work of World Vision. You are an incredible partner for Education Cannot Wait,” Sherif said. “You are so close to the communities and the children that they serve. And that’s precisely what Education Cannot Wait is about: localization and to not leave anyone behind.”
Go here to support education programs where they’re needed most.