International community rallies around the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies
The Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies, launched in January 2021 as a result of a pledge made at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum (GRF), continues to bring together a strong alliance of partners who understand the importance of supporting education in emergency contexts. This includes planning for education from the outset and working across sectors so that all children and youth can go to school, including in crisis contexts. It now counts 27 members, up from the original 10 co-signatories at launch.
The opening of the Hub’s offices in September, shared with ECW and close to the United Nations’ Headquarters and several other international agencies, adds a new collaborative space where partners can gather to untap a wealth of expertise, thinking, and influence in support of Education in Emergencies (EiE). Members already joined forces for initiatives such as the Hub’s ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment side event on education in June, a donor briefing on the education response to the crisis in Ethiopia and the refugee response in East Sudan, a themed entry in the Inside Geneva podcast, the Safe Schools Declaration event “From Oslo towards the Abuja Conference: making commitments a reality,” and a video campaign for the International Day to Protect Education from Attack in September. Thanks to these successful projects, the Hub has begun to demonstrate the value of tapping into Geneva’s unique and diverse community – from International Organisations to NGOs and the private sector – to contribute to the Education in Emergencies agenda.
In addition, a number of important events will take place over the coming weeks. The Hub will be supporting a Geneva “meetup” as well as an online panel discussion aligned with the UN World Data Forum on 5 and 6 October, respectively. Later this month, on 25 October, Geneva will be one of several global hubs hosting local participation in the 4th International Conference on the Safe Schools Declaration – linking with the main conference taking place in Abuja, Nigeria.
Hub members have also initiated a novel and urgently needed research project examining the state of financing for Education in Emergencies globally. It remains a challenge to analyse specific EiE funding as it tends to be included in broader financing for education and displacement. This disaggregation will be key, especially when looking at the effects of COVID-19 on Education in Emergencies, given the profound effect the pandemic has had across the sector.
The Hub members stand together, making clear that:
- Education needs to be built into humanitarian responses from the start, as any interruption in schooling for children and youth will have negative effects almost immediately, but also because emergency situations tend to become protracted, further compounding those effects.
- Being in school helps children and youth to recover from psychosocial distress; it also prevents and can address issues of child labour and exploitation, child marriage, and recruitment into armed groups or gangs, for example.
- Children, youth, and parents in emergency situations consistently rate access to education as a top priority. Ensuring humanitarian interventions are responsive to the needs of those affected requires that education be given greater prominence.
- Education in Emergencies faces an ongoing need for greater funding and prioritization.
But further challenges lie ahead. The Hub asks governments to support this initiative by engaging with Education in Emergencies and, particularly, co-signing the GRF 2019 pledge to bring more cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary attention to Education in Emergencies, and to leverage the influence of Geneva actors to contribute, collectively, to this important agenda.
There is a lot to gain for governments joining the Hub initiative. Globally, the world stands at a critical moment for Education in Emergencies, which calls for a strong alliance of like-minded countries ready to communicate with urgency about the challenges faced. A close collaboration is needed to address overall underfunding issues and under-prioritisation of education in emergencies. This can only be done by joining efforts.
Member State partners are invited to become visible champions, helping to advance the international EiE agenda. Through the Hub, crisis-affected countries in particular can amplify their voices and play a key role in advancing the EiE agenda. But all countries have a role to play as thought leaders and policy shapers in the EiE field.
The collaborative and participatory approach favoured by the Geneva Global Hub facilitates interactions, the generation of ideas, and tangible action. Education, being multidisciplinary by nature, requires actors from public and private sectors alike to engage alongside civil society partners and academia.
State governments are encouraged to take an active role in this discussion as they hold the responsibility for education on their territories; they also take the final decision on how education is maintained in emergency situations.
What is needed at present is to redouble efforts initiated by the Hub and continue to build a strong alliance of like-minded countries and organisations. Much more can be done in Geneva.