Education Cannot Wait

The Lego Foundation Announces US$5 Million Additional Contribution
Children play with Early Childhood Development (ECD) kits at Paradis des Petits school in Gressier, a small city in a rural areas south Port au Prince. Since March 2010, over 1.495 kits have been distributed by UNICEF throughout the country to support Haitian Ministry of Education and NGO partners in maintaining childhood development programs.

In response to the escalating crises in Afghanistan and Haiti, the Lego Foundation announced today US$5 million (DKK 35 million) in new funding for Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies.

The Lego Foundation is ECW’s largest private sector donor. The new contribution brings the foundation’s total commitment to ECW to US$32.5 million to date, with plans to continue to expand the partnership over the coming years.

“Through our continued support for Education Cannot Wait, the LEGO Foundation is working to ensure the most vulnerable young children are able to learn, play, grow and thrive. For the children of Afghanistan and Haiti, this means safe learning environments to protect and help them heal in these challenging times. Play-based early childhood education can give the best possible start in life, and overcome the stressors caused by the crisis situation,” said John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation.

The new funding will support ECW’s emergency responses to the escalating crises in Afghanistan and Haiti, ensuring crisis-affected girls and boys have access to life-saving and life sustaining services, such as safe learning spaces, mental health and psychosocial support, early childhood education, school-feeding programmes, and community-based education targeting the most vulnerable children.

“As a global fund dedicated to education in emergencies, our First Emergency Response is one of impatience. Education cannot wait until the emergency is over. Thanks to the rapid support by the LEGO Foundation, we can now establish safe learning spaces for children, and provide mental health and psychological social support without delay,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Early Childhood Education needs are central to our response, alongside other components of quality education. In Afghanistan, this additional funding will enable us to continue implementing community-based education to target the most vulnerable children, with an emphasis on girls.”

Events over the past few weeks will greatly impact the daily lives of the people of Afghanistan. The education system – already strained by COVID-19, waves of displacement connected with climate change, and other factors – requires substantial support. ECW is working closely with partners on the ground to ensure education in emergency initiatives continue.

As Haiti works to rebuild from a devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck on 14 August, ECW is working with the government, international and local partners, and donors to build a First Emergency Response that ensures girls and boys are provided with safe learning environments, early childhood education, school feeding programmes, and the mental health services they need to recover from the stress and anxiety of losing homes and loved ones.

ECW investments have reached 4.6 million children to date, including 274,000 pre-primary, 3.3 million primary, and close to 600,000 secondary school children. This includes 119,000 children and youth reached through ECW’s ongoing multi-year investment in Afghanistan, 58 per cent of whom are girls.

Working with partners such as the Lego Foundation, ECW has already mobilized over US$700 million at the global level and an additional US$1 billion through our country investments. ECW is calling on public and private donors to urgently mobilize an additional US$1 billion to reach even more crisis-affected girls and boys.