The United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), on Tuesday released a shocking report that indicates the number of crisis-impacted school-aged children requiring educational support has grown from an estimated 75 million in 2016 to 222 million till date.

Of the 222 million crisis-affected children and adolescents in need of urgent education support, the study indicates that 78.2 million are out of school and close to 120 million are in school, but not achieving minimum proficiency in math or reading.

In fact, just one in 10 crisis-impacted children attending primary or secondary education are actually achieving these proficiency standards.

The analysis indicates that 84 per cent of the out-of-school crisis-impacted children are living in areas with protracted crises. The vast majority of these are in countries specifically targeted through ECW's ground-breaking multi-year investments, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.

The war in Ukraine is pushing even more children out of school, with recent estimates indicating the conflict has impacted 5.7 million school-aged children.

These alarming new figures were released against the backdrop of a recent ECW study showing that the response to education in emergencies and protracted crises remains chronically underfunded, and that the funding gap appears to have got even worse since the Covid-19 pandemic.

To respond to this pressing global education crisis, ECW and strategic partners launched the #222MillionDreams resource mobilisation campaign in Geneva on Tuesday.

The campaign calls on donors, the private sector, philanthropic foundations and high net worth individuals to urgently mobilise more resources to scale up ECW's investments, which are already delivering quality education to over five million children across more than 40 crisis-affected countries.

The campaign rallies together donors and other strategic partners in the lead up to the Education Cannot Wait High-Level Financing Conference, co-hosted by ECW and Switzerland, and co-convened by Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan and taking place on February 16-17, 2023 in Geneva.

"The financial resources to ensure that every child and young person can receive a quality education exist in the world. Now, we need to take responsible action for the 222 million children and youth in emergencies and protracted crises. Governments, private sector and foundations can and must unlock these resources. Only then can we empower them to reach their potential and realise their dreams," said Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group.

"This is a global call to action; we speak of the 222 million dreams representing each of the 222 million children and adolescents sustaining the extreme hardship of emergencies and protracted crises," said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

"Their dreams are profoundly driven by their experience of wars and forced displacement. This is our moment to empower them to turn their dreams into reality. While the world struggles with the devastating impacts of armed conflicts, Covid-19 and climate change, 222 million children and adolescents live through these horrific experiences. They dream to become their full potential rather than a victim. Do not let them down. It is our duty to empower them through quality education and to help make their dreams come true," the ECW Director stated.

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