As the global multilateral fund for education in emergencies celebrates its fifth anniversary, 100 Million and Help4Refugees give an update on ECW’s Youth- and Student-led subgroup
From the gated refugee camps of the Middle East, to the enclosed refugee settlements spread across North Africa, to the thousands of informal settlements housing internally displaced persons all over the world, more than 75 million school-aged children, fleeing war, persecution, and climate disaster are at risk of losing a gateway to their rightful future: education.
Now, for the first time, the voices of young people impacted by this education crisis are being formally represented, their concerns brought to the forefront of humanitarian aid through the decision-making processes of Education Cannot Wait (ECW). ECW is both the only global multilateral fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises, and the first and only multilateral fund which has young people participating directly in its decision-making processes.
The new ECW Student- and Youth-led sub-group was established in January 2021, with elections for representatives to ECW’s Executive Committee and High-Level Steering Group being successfully held in the same month. The ECW Student- and Youth-led subgroup was created with the support of the 100 Million campaign, which unites youth activists and youth-led organisations in the fight for the rights of the world’s most marginalised children. It now has over 70 member organisations, representing young people from South Sudan to South America, making it the biggest civil society sub-group represented in ECW’s governance.
Eight organisations stood in the closely contested election, with the winning group being the international education in emergencies campaign Help4Refugees. Youth activists Jordan Hattar and Aaron Wright now represent the sub-group on the High-Level Steering Group and the Executive Committee.
An initial open meeting of the sub-group was held in February, convened by Help4Refugees and 100 Million, to establish the consultative process through which the many different youth voices within the group will be represented. Help4Refugees has kept the sub-group fully updated on the meetings and decision-making of ECW through a dedicated mailing list, as well as through the establishment of multiple forums of communication for members of the sub-group, including panels on East Africa, Nigeria, and the work of global student unions. Aaron has also had a face-to-face meeting with the Director of ECW, Yasmine Sherif, in Manhattan, as well as participated in formal ECW meetings online. In the near future, 100 Million will be working with Help4Refugees to run advocacy training with sub-group members.
Aaron is an 18-year old writer, humanitarian, and refugee advocate from New York City. While studying abroad in Rome, Aaron volunteered alongside Syrian refugees in a kitchen created to support the local Syrian refugee community. Moved by their stories of hardship and resilience, Aaron organised a trip with activist Jordan Hattar to spread awareness about the conditions in Za’atari, as well as allocate the funds that he had raised to support the health and education of Syrian and Palestinian refugee students. Since then, through the processes of ECW, the Global Student Forum’s working group on Democracy & Human Rights, and events hosted by the 100 Million campaign, Aaron has been an outspoken advocate for the rights of refugees worldwide. He also edits and regularly conducts interviews for the political journal Transnational Politics, and has been employed with the US Department of Defense Language Regional Expertise and Cultural Program since March 2020. Aaron will be graduating high school this coming June.
Jordan Hattar is a refugee activist, humanitarian, and freelance journalist. Jordan spent the autumn of 2012 reporting and delivering humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees in Za’atari Refugee Camp. Jordan teamed up with Olivia Wong, a fellow CGIU commitment maker, to fundraise and deliver two prefabricated housing units, called caravans, to the Za’atari Refugee Camp in the summer of 2013. In 2016, Jordan received a Master's degree in International Relations & Politics from the University of Cambridge. Upon receiving his degree, Jordan began an internship in the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative. In 2019, Jordan and Aaron organised a trip together to visit Za’atari. Most recently, Jordan has concentrated on directing Help4Refugees and has followed in the footsteps of his mentor, Carl Wilkens, speaking full-time in schools and universities around the world.
100 Million and Help4Refugees are dedicated to ensuring the global accessibility of education in emergencies, and recognise the necessity of elevating the voices of young people to lead the charge. While elections are held every two years, any youth-led organisation which works in education or emergency contexts can join the sub-group at any time. Please join us in our mission and apply for membership in ECW’s youth sub-group!