Photo Courtesy of DFID
We are currently facing the largest refugee and displacement crisis since World War II. An estimated 75 million children and adolescents globally have had their education disrupted or ended by crisis and emergencies — from the Nepal earthquake and ongoing conflict in Syria to the Ebola outbreak and earthquake in Ecuador. In the absence of action, children are trafficked, forced into child labor, or married off at young ages. Young people are becoming frustrated at the lack of opportunity, making them vulnerable to extremism or violence. All of this increasingly jeopardizes the economic growth and skilled workforce that are critical to business operations in our globalized world.
Launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May with the support of the UN Secretary-General, the new Education Cannot Wait Fund will provide education for children impacted by conflict and emergencies. As well as donors commitments, the business community will have a growing role in contributing not simply finance, but networks, creativity, and delivery. The Fund presents a critical opportunity for business to do their part. Through a coordinated and targeted approach, the Fund will help the private sector to engage, contribute, and prioritize investments, create shared value, and promote sustainable development and growth.
In response, the Global Business Coalition for Education launched Rapid Education Action (REACT) to record private sector contributions and assets that can be deployed for education should an emergency take place in different regions of the world. This is a crisis response model that is genuinely collaborative, innovative, and effective. It is a way of marshaling business, individuals, NGOs, the UN, and governments in meaningful partnerships.
The intention is to find corporate support alongside the Education Cannot Wait Fund for education in emergencies. Moreover, REACT will facilitate an initial set of partnerships to show what positive outcomes can look like when private sector, international organizations and the public sector partner together to restore education in crisis contexts.
Many companies have signed up to REACT since the launch, offering to be on the frontline of the next crisis. Consultancy companies come forward to offer time and brainpower on the practical problems holding back education provision. Technology companies are offering significant in-kind support — providing tablets and access to digital learning platforms for those hit by crisis. Recognized global brands are offering digital tools for students to support learning on the ground, while some have pledged tents and shelter for schools. We strongly encourage businesses to consider registering companies in REACT. Signing up does not create any additional obligations, but simply ensures that we have a way of linking up and creating an up-to-date list of the right people for when the next crisis hits. Your unique services could make a significant difference in the lives of children in crisis.
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