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DFID - Delivering education beyond borders

5 April 2007 - The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, and the Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, today set out their vision for delivering education to children affected by conflict or living in fragile states.

In a speech in Gleneagles, Gordon Brown said:

“We will do for education what the Red Cross and Medicine Sans Frontiers achieve for health and seek to provide education not just in places of comfort and peace but everywhere in the world - behind frontiers in conflict zones and fragile states.

“Some children can spend their lives living in conflict, or refugee camps, and if we do not reach out to these children, we will miss a generation.

“We need an Education Beyond Borders initiative that will help ensure that education needs are met in humanitarian emergencies, with a coordinated approach and rapid deployment of education experts led by UNICEF and Save the Children.

“We will provide additional UK support for education in Sierra Leone, Burundi, Somalia, Afghanistan, Nepal, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. And we must mobilise the political will to deliver education for all children, including those in conflict, at the High Level Education Event, hosted by the European Commission, in May.”

Hilary Benn said:

“More than 75 million children do not go to school every day across the world. 30 million of these are in countries affected by conflict.

“To meet our collective aim of getting every child into primary education by 2015, and our commitment to provide greater support to fragile and conflict-affected states, this new initiative will providing a vital boost of funds, support and expertise to bring education to those made most vulnerable by conflict.”

UK support to the new initiative includes:

  • a £20 million grant to UNICEF, to deliver education in emergency, conflict and post-crisis countries, and to support the United Nations (UN) humanitarian cluster for education
  • a new rapid response capability to deploy skilled education professionals in humanitarian emergencies
  • financial support for education in conflict and post-conflict states, including Nepal (£60 million to 2015), Burundi (£6 million over 3 years), Sierra Leone (£9 million over 4 years) and Somalia (£9 million over 3 years)
  • support for the education recovery programme in Liberia, via the multi-donor Fast Track Catalytic Fund
  • if conditions permit, £50 million for education in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there is an urgent need to restore confidence in the political process and democracy
  • further support to education in Afghanistan via the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, and
  • support to the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) to ensure that support is delivered effectively and flexibly to fragile, conflict and post-conflict states.

The new initiative announced today is built on the approach of ensuring that education is an integral part of humanitarian assistance and building the capacity of UNICEF and other UN agencies to deliver education effectively in conflict zones and fragile states. This will mean working with the FTI to deliver improved support for education in post-conflict fragile states and making sure that UK development assistance is committed to support education in fragile and post-conflict states.


Notes to Editors
1. The UK’s £20 million grant will be provided to UNICEF to support their activities in emergency and post crisis countries over the next 4/5 years, and will be closely coordinated with the World Bank and bilateral partners, to ensure that the key building blocks for education development in post conflict countries and fragile states are put in place.

2. The new rapid response capacity will take the form of the first global roster for education in emergencies, enabling skilled professionals to be deployed rapidly and effectively to deliver education interventions in humanitarian crisis situations. It will be funded through UNICEF and delivered by UNICEF and Save the Children as part of the UN Cluster for education.

3. The Fast Track Initiative (FTI) is a global partnership between donors and developing countries to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goal of all children completing primary school by 2015. It has two funds – the EPDF (Education Programme Development Fund), a technical assistance fund, and the CF, the Catalytic Fund. The UK leads the FTI Fragile States task team and will work with partners to bring forward proposals about how the FTI can improve its support for fragile states.

4. UK development assistance in fragile and post-conflict states is already making a difference. The UK supports education in Afghanistan through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). About a quarter of ARTF funding pays the salaries of over 100,000 teachers. This has been vital to increasing the number of children – particularly girls – in school from 2 million in 2002 to 6 million today.

5. TheHigh-Level Education event of 2 May aims to generate renewed high-level political commitment to finance basic education in an urgent and long term predictable way in order to meet the education MDG: ensuring all children, worldwide, including those in fragile states, complete primary education by 2015. The event will be hosted in Brussels by the European Commission and co-organized by the UK government and the World Bank.

6. The UK defines fragile states as those where the government cannot, or will not, deliver its core functions to the majority of its people, including the poor. DFID has a list of 46 fragile states based on the World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessments. There are about 31 million primary school-aged children out of primary school in fragile states. This is about 40% of the total – 77 million - of out of school children. The primary enrolment rate in fragile states is 69%.

7. For countries suffering protracted crises, humanitarian aid can become the dominant form of aid over a long period of time. For example, from 1993 – 2004, 73% of UK aid to both Liberia and Somalia was emergency aid (Leader and Colenso, 2005). Education is currently under-funded in humanitarian assistance, even compared to other sectors. For example, in the 2006 UN Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP), education was allocated 1.1% of total humanitarian assistance although it represented 4.2% of total needs.

8. The UN Cluster system was introduced in 2005 to improve the predictability, timeliness and effectiveness of response to humanitarian crises. Clusters are intended to redress systemic gaps and strengthen leadership and accountability. The UK supports the introduction of the cluster system for education, which was agreed in December 2006 by the Inter-Agency Committee of the UN and will be co-led by UNICEF and Save the Children.

For further information, contact Nic Fearon-Low on 020 7023 0533 or 020 7023 0600, e-mail or call our Public Enquiries Point on 0845 300 4100.

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