top of page


(Picture: Newly elected representative of the GSF, Mutesi Hadijah, reporting on the rights of refugees in Kampala for NBS news)

Living in, or forced to flee, conflict, climate disaster or other protracted crises is a dangerous reality that threatens the fundamental rights and safety of children and young people. Alongside increased risk of violence, hunger, exploitation, trafficking and military recruitment, the right to education is often non-existent or inaccessible in emergency contexts.

Today, an estimated 222 million school-aged children and young people are in desperate need of educational support, either in danger of, or already missing out on their education. 78 million of those children and young people are already out of school.

Despite affected communities continuously highlighting the importance of protecting the right to education during times of crises, only around 3% of global humanitarian funding is allocated to education. At the same time, despite young people, students and their organisations’ often on the frontlines of protecting the right to education during emergencies, they are repeatedly left out of emergency education response plans, implementation and advocacy initiatives at the local, national and global level.


Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is aiming to tackle both these challenges. It is both the only global multilateral fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises, and the first and only multilateral fund which has youth- and student-led organisations, including refugee-led groups, participating directly in its decision-making processes.

In 2020, ECW established a Youth- and Student-led subgroup within its Civil Society Organisation Constituency. 100 Million coordinated the creation of the constituency and served as the returning officer for its democratic processes. In early 2021 the subgroup held their first elections for the organisation to represent all members on the ECW High-Level Steering Group (HLSG) and Executive Committee (ExCom). With eight organisations standing for election, Help4Refugees, an international education in emergencies campaign, were successful and have excellently represented the subgroup at the highest level of ECW governance for the past two years.

In this time, the subgroup has grown to 130 youth- and student-led organisations in over 40 countries, from global student unions to national networks of youth activists and refugee-led groups operating in settlements across the world. Led by Henry D Wright they have also launched their own Youth Democracy Movement, aiming to create similar democratic youth constituencies in other global humanitarian and education funds.


In June and July of 2023, the Youth- and Student-led subgroup held its second election for the 2023-2025 mandate with 100 Million continuing in the role of returning officer. Again the process was competitive, with nine competing organisations nominating themselves, demonstrating the active participation and dedication of subgroup members. It was a closely contested election that was ultimately won by the Global Student Forum (GSF), the umbrella organisation of the world’s major representative, independent and democratic student unions at the secondary and tertiary level.

GSF representatives Mutesi Hadijah from Uganda and Hector Ulloa from Honduras will now represent the subgroup on ECW’s High-Level Steering Group (HLSG) and Executive Committee (ExCom) respectively. On their new roles, Mutesi and Hector said "We are very humbled to have

been democratically elected to represent the youth- and student-led subgroup. We are at the same time excited to fulfil our mission of representing all 130 youth- and student-led member organisations that are part of ECW. We promise to work hard and go the extra mile to make sure that youth, student and refugee-youth voices are taken seriously at all levels of ECW governance and operations."

The GSF has been a strong actor in education in emergencies advocacy since the creation of the organisation in 2020. As a youth- and student-led membership organisation operating in 126 countries, 32 of which are ECW Investment Countries, it represents student unions and student organisations led by young people who are dedicated to protecting the right to education in every context, especially when emergencies hit. At the global level it has coordinated young people and students across the world to engage in EiE advocacy and emergency responses, including the EiE Financing campaign in 2022 which included events in Rhino Refugee Camp in Uganda and at the Transforming Education Summit in New York; the first Global Refugee Forum; ongoing collaboration with UNHCR (Hector pictured above at the first coordination meetings of the Interagency Steering Group on Higher Education in Humanitarian-Development Context); and during the recent crises in Ukraine and Afghanistan.

Hector Ulloa (pictured right, photo credit to Ole Palmstrøm) is a Honduran human rights activist based in Norway with years of experience working on the right to education, especially for displaced and exiled young people. Hector has first hand experience of what it is to study abroad due to forced migration having had to leave Honduras, a country experiencing a protracted humanitarian crisis due to high levels of corruption and drug trafficking, because of political persecution. In Norway, Hector became the first foreign President of the Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH) and later a Steering Committee Member of the Global Student Forum (GSF). Through this work Hector has worked extensively, including with GSF partners such as UNHCR, on advocacy efforts to establish and strengthen complementary education pathways for refugees and advocated for the inclusion of refugee students in education policies discussions. Currently, Hector serves as an advisor to GSF's work on education in emergencies and works as Policy Advisor at "Skatteforsk - Centre for Tax Research" at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Mutesi Hadijah (pictured right) is a Ugandan youth and student activist who has tirelessly shed light on the lack of support for refugee education and the importance of assimilation efforts in Uganda, which hosts the largest refugee population in Africa. Working with the Global Students Forum through her role as Vice President of the Uganda National Students Association, she has worked with the media and government agencies to advocate for girls and refugee education at a national, regional and global level. Her work on refugee rights, which included a series of national news stories, has not only resulted in increased awareness in public discourse but prompted action from Ugandan decision-makers. Mutesi is also an active member of the Gender Advocacy Working Group at the All-Africa Students Union and has personally engaged school authorities in Uganda to prevent child marriage.


Hector and Mutesi will soon be calling an all-member subgroup meeting to open the new mandate and ​​establish consultative processes for the many different youth and student voices within the group to be heard ahead of the next ExCom and HLSG meetings in August and September.

100 Million and the Global Student Forum are dedicated to continuing to defend the right to education in emergencies and prioritising the participation and leadership of students and young people, especially those with lived experience of displacement. 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 today.


bottom of page