Save the Children News Alert Graphic

Funds Needed as Conflict, Climate Change and Forced Displacement Drives 3.6 Million Children Out of School in Ethiopia

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Dec. 7, 2022)—More than 3.6 million children in Ethiopia have never been to school or have dropped out due to a combination of conflict, climate change, and displacement, according to UNICEF, as a delegation of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), Norway, and Save the Children call for urgent funding for education.

The number of out-of-school children in Ethiopia has spiked from 3.1 million to 3.6 million in the last six months, driven in part by recent conflict in Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions and ongoing violence in parts of Oromia causing further civilian displacement.

Ethiopia is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises it has seen in decades with 24.1 million people, including 12.6 million children, affected by the worst drought in four decades. Over one million people have been displaced by the drought in the Somali region alone. Across the country, 20 million people need food assistance, according to the World Food Programme.

On their high-level joint mission, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s Minister of International Development, Graham Lang, ECW Director of the High-Level Financing Conference and Chief of Education, Birgitte Lange, CEO of Save the Children Norway, and other partners met with children and adolescents impacted by the ongoing crises in the Oromia and Somali regions.

The delegation visited schools and communities benefitting from holistic education support funded by ECW and delivered in partnership with UNICEF, Save the Children Ethiopia, and local partners in support of the government.

In three years, the multi-year program has reached over 250,000 vulnerable girls and boys with ‘whole-of-child’ interventions that include school feeding, psychosocial support, teacher training, school materials, accelerated learning, gender transformative approaches, and the construction and rehabilitation of school facilities.

“Education in crisis and conflict is a priority for the Norwegian government. In conflict especially, girls drop out of school. What this field visit has shown us is that if you manage to bring children back into school, they will eventually help build the societies they live in,” said Minister of International Development of Norway Anne Beathe Tvinnereim.

Community mobilization efforts, parent-teacher associations, and children’s clubs support the school management in driving key results and improving learning outcomes. Enrollment and retention rates have significantly improved, in particular for girls; with some ECW-supported schools registering up to a four-fold increase in enrollment rates since the program started.

“It is heartwarming to see the incredibly positive impact our joint program is having on the children and their communities. From gender equality to climate change adaptation, the interventions are designed to address the specific needs of crisis-affected children and improve their learning outcomes. Together with our partners, we call on public and private donors to substantially fund ECW to ensure we can scale up this successful model and reach more children in need,” said Graham Lang.

Education Cannot Wait—the UN global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises—has provided US$55 million in education funding investments to date in Ethiopia.

These ongoing efforts—delivered in partnership with UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children, and local partners in support to the Government of Ethiopia—are building schools, providing school meals, and ensuring girls and boys affected by the multiple crises in the country receive holistic educational supports. Innovative initiatives like gender clubs, environmental clubs, psychosocial support, and ‘speed schools’ that help children catch up after prolonged absences from learning are also generating strong results.

“ECW is committed to continuing its support to the crises affecting Ethiopia—the multi-year program will be renewed in 2023 and ECW is working closely with partners at all levels to mobilize the resources needed to fully implement the program. A new US$5 million ECW grant is also currently being finalized with strategic partners to scale up the response to the drought,” said Lang.

Worldwide, 222 million crisis-impacted children and adolescents are in need of urgent educational support. Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Financing Conference will take place in Geneva on February 16 and 17, 2023. Hosted by Switzerland and Education Cannot Wait—and co-convened by Colombia, Germany, Niger, Norway, and South Sudan—the conference calls on government donors, private sector, foundations, and high-net-worth individuals to turn commitments into action by making substantive funding contributions to ECW to realize #222MillionDreams✨📚.

Ethiopia Education Fast Facts

  • ECW has invested $55 million in Ethiopia since 2017, with an additional $5 million investment being finalized to further scale up education response to the drought.
  • Together with our strategic partners, ECW investments have already reached 276,000 crisis-affected girls and boys with safe, quality education.
  • 3.6 million children are out of school. Conflict and the climate crisis have partially or severely damaged over 8,700 schools in Ethiopia.
  • Due to the ongoing crises and the effects of COVID-19, learning outcomes are falling. The number of second-grade Ethiopian students that are able to read dropped from 25% in 2018 to 13% in 2021.
  • The recent drought has disrupted the education of 1.6 million children, including close to 500,000 forced out of learning.
  • Girls—especially teenage girls—children with disabilities and displaced children are among the most at risk.


Note to Editors

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. We support quality education outcomes for refugee, internally displaced and other crisis-affected girls and boys, so no one is left behind. ECW works through the multilateral system to both increase the speed of responses in crises and connect immediate relief and longer-term interventions through multi-year programming. ECW works in close partnership with governments, public and private donors, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and other humanitarian and development aid actors to increase efficiencies and end siloed responses. ECW urgently appeals to public and private sector donors for expanded support to reach even more vulnerable children and youth.  The Education Cannot Wait High-Level Financing Conference, co-hosted by ECW and Switzerland, and co-convened with Colombia, Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan, will take place February 16-17, 2023, in Geneva. 



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