Of the 257 million girls and boys currently out of school, more than 128 million are living in crisis situations. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.6 billion children were out of school, with many unlikely to return to school. This unprecedented situation calls for more attention at all levels, from the local to the global. The urgent need to respond effectively to the education needs of the world’s most vulnerable children and youth is why key stakeholders at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum formed the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies (EiE Hub), a coalition of governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, networks and academia to work toward that objective in joint and complementary ways. The EiE Hub is a physical and virtual platform that aims to be a catalyst for joint action among its members, and to increase collaboration with other sectors to prioritise education in emergencies. Together the EiE Hub members work to create change internationally, increase country-level impact, and foster political, financial and operational commitments for EiE.
The number of crisis-affected children and youth is at an all-time global high. Not only is their education disrupted during a crisis or when they are displaced, they also are less likely to return to school as they continue to encounter multiple obstacles. The COVID-19 pandemic has immensely exacerbated the challenge of accessing education, not least in the many countries affected by violence, where schools continue to be relentlessly attacked. Given the rise in the number and complexity of disasters and conflicts around the world, the latter being increasingly of a protracted nature, access to safe, quality and equitable education is becoming one of the greatest challenges of our time. It requires collective action at all levels, from the local to the global.
Yet, despite the severity of this situation, Education in emergencies remains one of the most underfunded and under-prioritised areas of humanitarian aid. Humanitarian and development programming requires a more coherent approach. EiE data—which are key to identifying needs, building resilient education systems and informing advocacy—are fragmented and inadequate, as is the evidence on what works in EiE and what does not. Research, policy and practice fail to add up to coherent, impactful change and linkages with operations on the ground.
In line with SDGs 4.1 and 4.2, the EiE Hub focuses on ensuring children’s and youth’s access to, and completion of, quality early childhood development and universal, free pre-primary, primary and secondary education, which in most countries is compulsory. This includes formal and non-formal education pathways. While the main focus is on compulsory education, the EiE Hub can also engage in dialogue on post-secondary transition. The EiE Hub’s focus covers all crisis-affected children and youth, regardless of their status (i.e., refugees, the stateless and internally displaced, migrants and others affected by conflict, violence, climate emergencies, disasters and epidemics, as well as host communities).
Our commitment to contribute to the realisation of the right to education for crisis-affected and displaced children and youth comes at a time of unprecedented humanitarian needs. The number of forcibly displaced people is at an all-time high and continues to climb. We are witnessing a global crisis in which children and youth are at heightened risk to lose years of education. The EiE Hub is a catalyst for joint action among its members, and for increased collaboration with other sectors to prioritise education in emergencies. The EiE Hub harnesses the expertise and capabilities of International Geneva’s diplomatic, humanitarian, development, human rights, protection, climate, migration, and peace communities and organisations, along with academia, to come together for transformative joint action for EiE. The EiE Hub promotes policy dialogue, multistakeholder synergies and partnerships, and inspires political and financial commitments to ensure the delivery and continuity of safe, quality education to crisis-affected and displaced children and youth.
Geneva is the ‘capital of the humanitarian community’, and home to numerous academic institutions and humanitarian and development organisations working in education. When it comes to EiE, however, the strengths of International Geneva remain largely untapped, as evidenced by the chronic underfunding and under-prioritisation of EiE. The EiE Hub seeks to harness the expertise and capabilities of International Geneva’s diverse communities to engage and influence global and national processes that are relevant to the EiE sector as a whole. It builds on the strengths, functions and mandates of its partners through complementary and collaborative action.
Geneva offers many opportunities for collaboration that can help ensure that actors from education and other sectors speak with one voice about EiE, which in turn can inspire political and operational commitment, widen participation and substantially raise the level and quality of financial support at a global level. Moreover, it can help foster dialogue about EiE between policy-makers, operational organisations and academia, while linking global and in-country actors.
The Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies will strengthen integrated approaches across the nexus, and with other sectors, by facilitating increased collaboration for EiE between International Geneva actors and beyond to ensure the delivery and continuity of safe, quality education to crisis-affected and displaced children and youth. We are committed to inspire political will and commitment to advance EiE and influence agenda- setting so that governments and other stakeholders see education as a priority before, during and after emergencies and in protracted crises. Our joint action will boost the impact of EiE preparedness and response through improved data, research and evidence on what works in creating resilient education systems. Overall, the EiE Hub will be a catalyst for accelerating progress toward SDG4 in humanitarian settings, and will help realise the commitments set out in the Global Compact for Refugees.
The EiE Hub Steering Group is the independent governance and oversight body of the EiE Hub. The Steering Group is made up of the initial co-signatories of the GRF pledge and founding members, and guides the overall strategic work of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies on behalf of the broader membership.
The Technical Working Group provides technical expertise, acts as a sounding board and takes on leadership for carrying out specific activities as per the work plan. The Working Group is composed of the initial co-signatories as well as World Vision International, and is coordinated by the EiE Hub Coordinator.
The Secretariat is composed of a dedicated Hub Coordinator, seconded by Switzerland and hosted by the Global Education Cluster in UNICEF’s Office of Emergency Programmes (EMOPS) Geneva offices, and works together with a Communications Specialist, a Communications and Advocacy Officer, an Event Management Officer and a Partnerships and Policy Engagement Manager
The EiE Hub members will be accountable to each other and to those they seek to serve. Accountability drives the EiE Hub’s action and decisions, with crisis-affected and displaced children and youth at the centre of their efforts.
The Hub office space is located at Rue de Varembé 7 in Geneva, close to the UN HQ and managed by Education Cannot Wait. The shared workspace officially opened on 7 October 2021, hosting staff from Education Cannot Wait (ECW) as well as other members of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies. This is an exciting new venue which enables organisations advancing the delivery of education in emergencies to work together more closely and more collaboratively in the heart of Geneva’s international district.
Within the available capacity, ECW in consultation with the Hub will provide office space to members.
Discussions, policy events and more will be held with a wide range of stakeholders either at the Hub offices or close-by locations.
The Geneva Global Hub is open to building a wide partnership around common areas of focus. See the How to Become a Member page.
The Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies is open to all States on the following basis:
1) Any State may co-sign the GRF pledge and become a member of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies by expressing its interest to co-sign the pledge to the Geneva Global Hub for EiE Secretariat.
2) Co-signatories are expected to support the Hub’s mission, function and modalities as set out here.
Join the conversation: Private sector partners can engage with the conversations and knowledge-sharing convened by the EiE Hub, alongside public and civil society partners. The Hub encourages all partners to participate in reaching all children and youth who cannot access quality and safe education or whose schooling is interrupted because of emergency, protracted crises, climate change, disasters, violence or epidemics. Collaboration across sectors and donors is needed for a lasting impact on the education of the most vulnerable children and youth. Businesses, foundations and philanthropists can support as follows:
- Contribute financial resources: provide philanthropic contributions to the Hub for its work plan implementation or to specific emergencies via its members. We encourage companies to creatively identify ways to engage in mobilizing resources.
- Donate in-kind services or products: businesses can provide core business assets, including the deployment of products, services and human resources to operationalize the Hub’s activities.
- Share innovations: we encourage everyone to pinpoint and raise discussion on innovations that could address education in emergencies’ challenges.
We are eager to collaborate to foster innovation and the identification and scale-up of transformative and intersectoral solutions.