The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection department organised a forum on Education in Emergencies on 30 November 2016 in Brussels. The event attracted over 200 participants, including decision makers, humanitarian experts and practitioners.
The event included high-level interventions by Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Education, Ömer Çelik, Minister for EU Affairs of Turkey and Elias Bou Saab, Minister of Education and Higher Education of Lebanon.
Education and empowering children is a key goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Yet, today 75 million children living in crisis-affected countries and forced displacement lack access to quality education. The outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit in May have raised education to the top of the international agenda and underscored the need for political commitment, smart funding, closer links between humanitarian and development actors, as well as new partnerships and innovative approaches to ensure a brighter future for the most vulnerable children.
The EU has been a leading donor for education against a backdrop of the chronic underfunding of the sector in humanitarian contexts. Education in emergencies in particular has been a key priority for Commissioner Christos Stylianides who committed at the Oslo Summit in July 2015 to increase funding to education in emergencies to 4% of EU humanitarian aid – a commitment achieved in 2016. At the Forum, he announced a further increase to 6% of the humanitarian budget for 2017.
EU-funded actions include access to education which encompass mine risk education, life skills and vocational training, recreational activities and psychosocial support. Children also benefit from the provision of school material and the setting up of new education facilities. Besides on-the-ground action, the Commission is also raising awareness of the importance of education in emergency settings. Safe education and learning environments are not only protective against immediate risks but also empower children and young people to develop the necessary skills to build more prosperous futures for themselves and their countries.