On Wednesday, 28th of February, the APPG hosted a dynamic, interactive event on ‘What’s Next for the UK Government on Education in Emergencies’ in partnership with the Send My Friend to School Coalition (SMF). The event marks the anniversary of the launch of SMF’s campaign on education in emergencies. It celebrated steps taken in in the last year to address this issue and considered what else could be done by the UK Government to play its part in ensuring that children do not miss out on their right to education during disasters, conflicts, and protracted crises.

The event kicked off with remarks from Andrew Mitchell, FCDO Minister for Development and Africa, and Helen Grant OBE, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education, who both championed the importance of focusing on girls in responses emergencies. Minister Mitchell emphasised the ripple effect that educating girls can have on communities and that the manner in which work is done on this issue matters. He highlighted the UK’s role as a major donor to Education Cannot Wait, the world’s largest global fund for education in emergencies, which delivers essential funding for rebuilding damaged infrastructure and ensuring children can access schools, among other things. Helen Grant spoke on how investing in girls is a game changer. She acknowledged that there are considerable challenges which no government can solve on its own, but that it should never be underestimated what can be achieved when we come together to act.

Youth voice was championed by both Minister Mitchell and Helen Grant. Helen Grant made clear the importance of listening to youth voices, which are essential to ensuring that education is meeting the needs of young people and that money is being directed to places that are enriching and positive to their educational experience. Minister Mitchell celebrated the inspiring work being done by youth campaigners in the UK through the Send My Friend to School campaign, who shine a light on the issue in solidarity with their peers in other countries and encourage their communities and elected representatives to support the UK taking action.

Two special messages were shared for the event via pre-recorded video. The first was was by Yasmine Sherif, the Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), who sent her thanks to the Send My Friend to School Coalition, the APPG on Global Education, Minister Mitchell, Helen Grant, Alicia Herbert, and everyone in the FCDO who have supported the fund’s 222 million dreams campaign to get children who are out of school due to crises back into classrooms. Another video was shared by Young Ambassadors Trinity, Aubrey, and Marvellous in Malawi, who have been campaigning on climate change and other issues affecting education in their community. The Young Ambassadors showcased the ways they are making a difference, including by planting trees along a riverbank near their school and encouraging the use of more sustainable fuel following devastating impacts of Cyclone Freddy on their school.

Attendees then heard moving words from Yosef Elgadal, a Sudanese-British partnerships, advocacy and crisis-communications expert with UNICEF Sudan. Yosef recently returned to the UK, where he grew up, after he and his family of five were forced to flee Sudan via a 6-day road journey due to the recent war. He spoke on behalf of the 19 million children in Sudan who are currently not learning due to the conflict. Learning is the foundation of everything, including access to safe environments for children, he said. Education in emergencies is life-saving, and the pillar to all services that children require to be a child. It is the entire community that suffers when education is not available, including teachers who have been working unpaid for nearly a year. He appealed for eyes to be kept on Sudan, which has been slipping from attention in the media and Parliament, and powerfully made the case that education is not just a ‘nice- to-have during emergency responses, as “Children are the agents of peace and will be the heartbeat of the political solution.”

The opening remarks concluded with words from Send My Friend to School Campaign Champions Amaya and Rebecca, Year 9 students from Croxley Danes School, who spoke on why this issue is important for the UK Government to take meaningful action on and what can be done next to ensure the UK is playing its part. They shared poetry they wrote as part of a creative campaigning initiative at their school to bring attention to education in emergencies. Their peers, Amario and Mia from Haringey Learning Partnership, also shared artwork and their perspectives on the life-saving and life-protecting nature of education in emergencies needs at the event.

Following remarks, the room broke out for attendees to take part in discussion on a range of themes relevant to the next steps for the UK Government on education in emergencies. CSOs representatives, multilateral funds, academics, UK youth campaigners, grassroots campaigners, civil servants, and Parliamentarians visited stations on Coordinating an Education Response in Emergencies, Leaving No One Behind, Protecting Teachers During Crises, Youth Voice and Participation, and Opportunities for UK Action to engage in informal conversations about how we all can better support education in emergencies.
A very sincere thank you to speakers Minister Mitchell, Helen Grant MP, Yasmine Sherif of Education Cannot Wait, Yosef Elgadal of UNICEF Sudan, Young Ambassadors Trinity, Aubrey and Marvellous, and Send My Friend Campaign Champions Amaya, Rebecca, Amario and Mia. Many thanks to Co-Chairs for the APPG Vicky Ford MP and Lord German for their remarks and role in coordinating the event and to all Parliamentarians who joined. And finally, a very big thank you to all of the education advocates and experts who traveled from around the UK to be a part of this inspiring event, with special acknowledgement to the members of the Send My Friend to School Coalition who volunteered at the thematic stations to make this engaging event a reality.