An amount of US$27.2 million in catalytic investment grants will be allocated by a global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises, for multi-year resilience programs in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Education Cannot Wait (ECW) made the announcement on 3 December in response to the ongoing situation where countries are receiving large numbers of children and families fleeing violence and instability in Venezuela.
Yasmine Sherif, director of Education Cannot Wait, says the three-year education multi-year resilience programs will reach over 350 000 Venezuelan and host-community children and youth to ensure continued access to inclusive, equitable quality education. She says the dire situation in Venezuela has forced about five million refugees and migrants as of March 2020 outside their country of origin with millions of girls and boys out of schools, seeking safety in other countries in the region.
“These children and youth can now continue their education in their host communities and the investments deliver humanitarian-development coherence in the education sector addressing both the immediate humanitarian needs and system-strengthening. Together we can make a difference now. This is precisely what they need now and provides them with protection and hope in their future,” says Sherif.
The director says the education of these children cannot wait until the crisis is over and we need collective action and urgently call on public and private-sector donors to fully fund the joint education program. She says the program serves refugees and others forcibly displaced, as well as their host-communities in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
According to Sherif, the number of Venezuelans who have fled into Colombia has grown exponentially from 40 000 in 2015 to 2.4 million by the end of 2020 making this humanitarian crisis the largest in the Western Hemisphere, and among the largest globally. She says the Colombia multi-year resilience program benefits from US$12.4 million in catalytic grant financing from their fund.
“Colombia allows all Venezuelan children and youth to enrol in its national education system regardless of their immigration status. The number of Venezuelan children and youth enrolled in Colombia’s formal education system has increased ten-fold over the last two years from 34 000 in 2018 to 334 000 in 2020,” says Sherif.
The initial program will run for three years with the goal of leveraging an additional US$70.5 million in co-financing from national and global partners, the private sector and philanthropic foundations. It will reach at least 30 000 children through early childhood education, 90 000 children through primary education and 30 000 children through secondary education.
The director says the program bridges immediate humanitarian needs and longer-term development efforts strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus approach. She says it targets 11 priority departments across the north and the north-east of the country where over 80% of Venezuelan children and youth are enrolled.
According to Sherif, Education Cannot Wait is allocating an initial catalytic grant of US$7.4 million in Ecuador and calls on public and private sector donors to help fully fund the remaining US$32 million gap for the education-in-emergency response. She says since 2015 about 1.5 million Venezuelans have fled to Ecuador and while many travelled onward to Peru and to other countries, some 380 000 people remain.
“The number of Venezuelan children and youth enrolled in Ecuador’s formal education system has more than quadrupled over the last two years from 10 730 in 2018 to 47 319 in 2020. Approximately 35 000 Venezuelan children and youth living in Ecuador remain out of school. Fully funded, the program will reach 105 000 children and youth, including 64 000 girls and adolescent girls, and 10 000 children with disabilities,” says the director.
The Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela states there are an estimated 830 000 Venezuelans who have escaped to Peru. Ministry of Education data indicates 96 613 Venezuelan migrant and refugee students are enrolled in Peruvian schools (2020), a number which has steadily increased over recent years with 67 957 refugee and migrant children not registered in the Ministry of Education’s system.
“Our fund is allocating an initial catalytic grant of US$7.4 million in Peru and calls on donors and the private sector to help fully fund the remaining US$14 million gap for the education-in-emergency response. Once fully funded, the program will reach 100 000 children and youth, particularly Venezuelan girls and boys and improve the inclusivity and quality of the Peruvian education system,” says Sherif.