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Sunday, September 24, 2023
Jun 11 2021 - The right to an inclusive quality education is not a privilege. It is a human right. Delaying or ignoring the right to an education equals failing to protect human rights. The longer we wait, the less we contribute to justice.
Amongst the 128 million children and youth still waiting for such justice, 7.3 million are refugee children and adolescents between the ages of 4 and 18. In parts of the Sahel in Western Africa, children are so afraid of being caught learning that they do their school-work in the sand – ready for it to be quickly erased should anyone question what they are doing. In the Central African Republic, attacks by armed groups force families to move on a regular basis, uprooting them overnight, fleeing for their lives, preventing children from feeling safe and repeatedly denying them stable access to learning. And in Nigeria, for adolescent girls, simply going to school puts them at immediate risk of being kidnapped or killed.
In this month’s Education Cannot Wait’s Newsletter, we interviewed one of the founders of the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund, Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children UK. He speaks to us about the right to education from the lens of justice. It is very much in the same spirit of another founder, The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Steering Group, who often refers to our collective struggle for the right to a quality education as the civil rights movement of our century.
It is time to look at the right to an inclusive quality education, as the most important human right and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) of our times. Without 12 years of an education, all else falls away – be it local empowerment, gender-equality, ending poverty or maintaining peace and security. Imagine trying to achieve all that in any society without an education?
Martin Luther King Jr once said: “Justice delayed is justice denied.” The 128 million children and youth left furthest behind (the number significantly increased from an estimated 75 million to an estimated 128 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic), cannot reconcile with the fact that their justice is being both delayed and denied. Their sense of justice is right on target. To them, their education cannot wait.
In May 2021, the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund commemorated its Fifth Anniversary and the international community came out in full force to positively embrace our shared achievements (several of them quoted in this Newsletter). Since becoming fully operational four years ago, ECW and ECW partners have reached 4 million children and youth in crisis countries with quality education, and delivered emergency responses to over 10 million children, including in response to COVID-19.
With more financing, we could have reached even more children and youth. It is all about financing. With a funding ask of $400 million for 2021/22 (which is a modest ask compared to the needs, yet takes into account the economic recession), the Education Cannot Wait Global Fund can deliver justice to millions of more children and youth, by making sure that an inclusive quality education for those left furthest behind is neither denied, nor delayed.
Yasmine Sherif, Director Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
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