Education cannot wait

Norwegian Refugee Council , June 26, 2014
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) pledged to enable one million children to access education in fragile and conflict affected states by 2017 at the Education Replenishment Conference in Brussels.

The conference, which was co-hosted yesterday by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the European Commission, gathered more than 40 ministers, multilateral and civil society organisations, private sector and youth leaders from 91 countries. 

NRC Secretary General, Jan Egeland, appeared on a panel about education in emergencies, alongside several ministers from different countries -including Norway -, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, the Director General of UNESCO and the former Board Chair of the GPE. 

– It is crucial to enable children to go to school from the onset of the emergency, said Jan Egeland.

He also highlighted the challenges in assisting children in complex crisis and conflict settings:

– Children in war zones are being failed because humanitarian actors’ presence is insufficient. We need to find ways to improve humanitarian access and increase our presence in most ‘hard-to-reach’ areas.

The panel also discussed the importance of protecting schools and universities from military use and attacks.

– Education programmes fulfill an essential protection function in providing safe areas for children and the Lucens’ guidelines provide us with a framework in which this can be assured”, Jan Egeland stressed.

The conference participants pledged over US$28.5 billion in additional funding for education for millions of children in more than 60 developing countries.

The European Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, announced a new EU commitment of €375 million (US$510 million). Norway doubled its support for the GPE -increasing its annual contribution from US$47.5 million this year to US$96.5 million in 2017.  And the UK also increased its contribution to the GPE to £300m.

NRC strongly welcomes the outcome of the conference, all the important commitments made and the generosity of the donors.