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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Education in Emergencies Financing

"Investing in education is the most cost effective way to drive economic development, improve skills and opportunities for young women and men, and unlock progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Financing education is indeed the best investment we can make." -- United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, 20 Sept 2017.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the myriad benefits of education to individuals, families, and societies, education in emergencies continues to be underfunded by both governments and humanitarian actors alike.

Conflict-affected countries, in particular, are spending around 3% of national income – below the global average of 4% and the recommended target of nearly 6%. With so many of the world’s out-of-school children and adolescents living in conflict-affected countries, investing in education should be a priority for external donors when governments fail to do so, but most countries in protracted crises do not receive enough humanitarian financing.

Adding to the problem, not only does the education sector have one of the lowest requests for resources in Humanitarian Response Plans, but it also receives a small share of what is requested – a double disadvantage.

Education has a double disadvantage in humanitarian aid – a small share of requests and the smallest share of funded requests. (GMR Policy Paper 21)

After accounting for projected domestic spending – governments bear primary responsibility for ensuring the right to education of their citizens – a minimum of US$38 per child and US$113 per adolescent annually is needed from external funding to ensure all children and adolescents in conflict-affected countries can go to school. As it stands, to fill the financing gap needed to reach the 33.8 million out-of-school children and adolescents in conflict-affected countries, US$2.3 billion is required: this is 10 times what was given in humanitarian aid to education in 2014.

Although the figures for adequately providing education in all crisis contexts are high, the cost of NOT doing so is far higher.


“Allowing the education of millions of children and youth to be cut short by conflict and other emergencies is not just ethically indefensible, it is economically ruinous.”
Kevin Watkins, ODI

Key Priorities

Working together through the mechanism of the Education Cannot Wait Fund (new in 2016), the education in emergencies sector is seeking change in five priority areas:

  1. Inspire political commitment so that education is viewed by governments and funders as a top priority during crises.
  2. Plan and respond collaboratively with a particular emphasis on enabling humanitarian and development actors to work together on shared objectives.
  3. Generate and disburse additional funding to close the funding gap needed to reach the millions of children and youth affected by crises.
  4. Through investment in existing coordination mechanisms like INEE and the Education Cluster, strengthen capacity to respond to national and local crises, improve the ability to coordinate activities, and deliver learning in the hardest to reach areas.
  5. Improve accountability in the humanitarian and development systems by sharing knowledge and collecting more robust data in order to make better-informed investment decisions.


Key Activities


Education Cannot Wait Fund

Education Cannot Wait - a fund for education in emergencies is an education crisis fund designed to transform the global education sector, including both humanitarian and development responses. Launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, following extensive consultation and dialogue among a range of stakeholder, the fund aims to deliver a more collaborative, agile, and rapid response to education in emergencies in order to fulfill the right to education for children and young people affected by crises.

The Education Cannot Wait Fund will scale up resource mobilization over the first five years, commencing with an aim to raise approximately $150 million in the first year and with an ambition to bring funding to a level of $1.5 billion in the fifth year. This involves an overall 5-year fundraising ambition of $3.85 billion. The Fund’s resource mobilisation efforts will aim to bring in new, untapped resources, rather than reallocating existing funds.

Read more about the background, goals, and progress on the Education Cannot Wait website and on the INEE website.

Overview of Global Education Financing Mechanisms

This Overview of Education Financing Mechanisms is a key messaging document on education financing. Prepared with inputs from the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, the Education Cannot Wait fund, and the Global Partnership for Education, the paper outlines what collective actions on financing are needed to get all children in school and learning by 2030. 
The overview is designed to assist stakeholders in dialogues with donors, policy-makers and any other supporters, and clarifies the shape of the overall aid architecture for education. By setting out the challenges facing the education sector, it presents clear pathways for donors to contribute and collectively mobilise the necessary financing to achieve SDG4. 
Our overall success is centred around 5 key actions-

  • Increase domestic budgets for education by expanding their tax base to reach to 5.8% of GDP.
  • Increase ODA and commit 15% of aid to education, targeting countries most in need.
  • Fully fund the Global Partnership for Education by providing $2 billion a year by 2020.
  • Fully fund Education Cannot Wait by providing $3.85 billion by 2021.
  • Establish an International Financing Facility to unlock more than $10 billion a year by 2020.

International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd)

An International Finance Facility is a partnership between developing countries, international financial institutions, and public and private donors to mobilize new financial resources for low- and middle-income countries. Building on the findings of the Learning Generation report released in September 2016, the Education Commission proposes an International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) that could mobilize an additional $13 billion annually for education by 2020.

The Facility would bring together public and private donors, alongside international financial institutions such as the World Bank and regional development banks, to raise additional financing for education and ensure it is used more effectively so that children are learning. The Facility would create attractive financing packages for lower-middle-income countries that would be interest-free or low-interest. These desirable financing streams would be linked to developing countries increasing their own education investments and making education reforms.

The Education Commission is calling on world leaders to pledge support to the International Finance Facility for Education proposal during the July 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Further, the Commission has identified Pioneer Countries – many of which are already making their own strides on education – that are committed to raising education outcomes to the level of the world’s top 25 percent fastest education improvers and increase investment of national income in education from the current 4% average to 5.8%. This pledge would be the foundation for Financing Compacts with the international community, including potential IFFEd funding for eligible countries.

Global Partnership for Education

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) strengthens the delivery and finance of education in the 89 low and lower middle income countries that are farthest away from reaching SDG4. GPE works closely with governments and other partners to secure sustained domestic and external resource commitments to finance and implement strong national education sector plans. GPE’s finance is results-based and funds implementation, knowledge sharing, innovation and enhanced social accountability to improve the equity and quality of education. GPE’s “Leverage Fund” will also crowd in non-traditional financing into the education sector (e.g., rewarding every $3 of private sector investment or MDB financing with $1 of GPE grant funding) and increase the affordability of concessional finance for low and lower middle income countries. 

INEE Reference Guide on External Education Financing

The INEE Reference Guide on External Education Financing (2010) is a resource that explains donor education funding strategies and mechanisms. It is a user-friendly tool for country-based stakeholders (particularly national governments), to inform their decision-making and implementation of effective education financing modalities. Written from the donor point of view, this guide is not an analysis of the pros and cons of different funding mechanisms, nor is it a “how to” guide for applying for external education assistance.

Download the INEE Reference Guide on External Education Financing in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian.

INEE Policy Roundtable on Education Finance in States Affected by Fragility

In October 2008, the INEE Working Group on Education and Fragility held the INEE Policy Roundtable on Education Finance in States Affected by Fragility in Brussels, Belgium. The event was generously hosted by the European Commission (EC), and supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The event brought together a diverse group of experts and practitioners – donors, UN and NGO professionals, and researchers/academics – from education and other sectors and aimed to satisfy the following objectives:

  • To review existing and new, innovative financing modalities for education in situations of fragility and chronic crises to determine how these modalities can better respond to the challenges faced by the sector, including the most effective mix and phasing of modalities;
  • To draw upon experience and knowledge of financing modalities in other sectors and cross-sectoral linkages between education and other sectors to develop lessons learnt and improvements to financing modalities for education in fragile states;
  • To develop advocacy strategies and targeted policy recommendations on the use of different existing and emerging new aid modalities to effectively support the provision of education in situations of fragility.

To read more about this roundtable event and read the Outcome Report, visit the INEE website.

Key Resources



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