Geneva, 12 May 2022 – Tackling the increasingly complex and connected obstacles to education facing children and young people in crisis calls for broader coalitions, joined-up thinking and cross-sector solutions. Geneva must do more to take on these challenges. Therefore, the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies launched its 2022-2025 strategy. This sets out strategic objectives as the EiE Hub moves into its next phase of activities, following an initial year as a start-up initiative. The need for EiE is pressing and multifaceted, and the EiE Hub can—and must—make a real difference to shape and influence policy worldwide.
“The next four years are crucial for us,” said Ambassador Felix Baumann, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, as he opened the launch event. “They are crucial for our planet, as climate change and food insecurity push more children into crisis and out of education. They are crucial for the international community, and will tell whether we have succeeded (or failed) in delivering the 2030 Agenda. And, most importantly, they are crucial for the millions of children and young people at risk of missing out on education due to conflict, disaster, or displacement.”
The EiE Hub will benefit from its ambitious strategy to leverage the opportunities found in Geneva and beyond. And it will now do so in partnership with a new member. Just prior to the strategy launch, the government of Canada co-signed the 2019 Global Refugee Forum pledge which established the Hub, thus becoming the latest state to join.
Dean Brooks, Director of the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies and Co-Chair of the EiE Hub Steering Group, introduced the speakers who would address the three core themes of this new strategy: catalysing joint action across sectors to advance education in emergencies; inspiring political will and commitment; and boosting impact through evidence.
The strategy makes clear that the EiE Hub must continue to engage people and partners from all sectors – not just the UN, not just the diplomatic community, and not just education.
“In UNHCR, we often say that education is not only a means for ensuring the protection of children and young people,” said Kelly T. Clements, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “It also lays the foundations for individual and community resilience. We can only do this effectively by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach that encourages actors across different sectors to work together to meet the needs of children and young people in a holistic way.”
Tharindra Arumapperuma, Youth Board Member at Global Youth Mobilization spoke about the expectations she and her peers have for greater access to quality education for children and youth in emergencies: “At times of crisis, does the learning stop?” she asked. “Do young people have to throw away their dreams, and the idea of a life they want? We’re not always getting an answer. But if we can prioritise education in emergencies before a crisis, as a pro-active move, in future we may avoid ending up in crisis in the first place.”
Dr Randa Grob-Zakhary, CEO of Education.org, then explained the need to establish processes and take the time to collect and apply good data to emergency responses. “‘Hurry slowly’: this is the concept behind why evidence can be so strong in boosting impact,” she said. “The silver lining of the pandemic for the health sector was its ability to create a vaccine – actually, multiple effective vaccines – in nine months, instead of the usual 10 years. What will be education’s silver lining?”
Added words of support were then offered from across three different sectors. H.E. Ms. Leslie E. Norton, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, affirmed the importance of education in emergencies for women’s empowerment. Yasmine Sherif , Director of Education Cannot Wait, emphasised the need to work together to support action on the ground, and Professor Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Director of NORRAG, Geneva Graduate Institute, reiterated the importance of research in moving forward.