The UN has proposed a humanitarian aid scheme, the ‘Education Cannot Wait’ fund, which aims to provide education to children and teenagers during conflicts and natural disasters.

An emergency £2.7billion warzone education fund will help ‘give refugees hope’ says Gordon Brown, the UN special envoy for Global Education at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, where talks concerning the first ever humanitarian fund targeting education were held.

Brown, also the Chair of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, had this to say concerning the current lack of support for education in times of crises and the consequences thereafter:

“Some 75 million children have had their education disrupted by emergencies.”

“Without school, young children caught up in emergencies are at risk of becoming the youngest labourers in the field, the youngest brides at the alter, the youngest soldiers in the trench, and in some cases, the youngest recruits vulnerable to extremism and radicalisation.”

These sentiments were received and praised by leaders of top humanitarian aid groups from all over the world such as UNICEF and UNESCO.

The ‘game changing’ idea to fund the educational development for disaster areas came from reports showing the despicable living conditions of teenagers in conflict zones. These included a report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) stating that ‘some 168 million children remain trapped in child labour’.

The results of the discussions at the summit were overwhelmingly positive. The business world, led by the Global Business Coalition for Education pledged to raise $100million for the cause and the President Emeritus of New York University vowed to lead a ‘clearing house’ initiative, allowing refugees the chance to go to college and university.

The full fund will take 5 years to accumulate and make a difference in the long term.

It is the first time that humanitarian aid is being used to sustain development rather than to temporise fragile situations by donating more than just food, water and housing.