Recipients of the Humanitarian Education Accelerator announced

News and Press Release
Originally published

NEW YORK, 19 September 2016 - Three innovative projects to improve learning for children in crisis situations have been selected to receive funding from the Humanitarian Education Accelerator (HEA), an initiative run in partnership by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), UNHCR and UNICEF.

The recipients will receive tailored mentorship and up to £300,000 to strengthen their evaluation capacity. They are:

• The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) – Equity in Education: a project that aims to improve learning for refugee and host community girls via remedial classes.

• War Child Holland – Can’t Wait to Learn: a project that uses innovative, cost-effective technology solutions to increase the number of emergency affected children with access to quality education in Sudan and two countries in the Middle East.

• Kepler Kiziba – Higher Education for All: a pilot project of a blended learning university program at Kiziba Refugee Camp in western Rwanda that pairs online learning with in-person instruction and work experience opportunities while students earn a fully accredited U.S. bachelor’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University.

“The Humanitarian Education Accelerator provides a platform for scaling promising initiatives that will improve learning outcomes for children, especially those made more vulnerable by crisis,” said Cynthia McCaffrey, Director, Office of Innovation at UNICEF.

“By investing in new ways to enhance access to education we aim to provide learning opportunities, in a sustainable way, to those children who are hardest to reach because they have been forced to flee from their homes and everything they know.”

Ita Sheehy, Senior Education Advisor at UNHCR, states that “engaging refugee children and communities in creative ways to ensure they can continue their education is at the heart of the Humanitarian Education Accelerator. We have confidence that the winners of this award will expand innovative ways to improve education for conflict affected children and young people and provide them with the skills they need to move forward with their lives, despite the difficulties they face.”

The multi-year partnership between DFID, UNICEF and UNHCR opens up the possibility to gain evidence on ways to improve learning for children in crisis situations and has a lot of potential for expanding innovative partnerships. It stems out of a recognition that refugees have more immediate needs than just food, shelter, and clothing. Education is crucial, but is often overlooked in response measures. Quality education builds relevant skills and knowledge that enable refugees to live healthy, productive lives and develop self-reliance. Since the average duration of displacement is now 20 years, education needs to be a fundamental component of humanitarian assistance.

Until the end of 2018 the Humanitarian Education Accelerator will help pilot projects working on education in crisis settings to improve how they measure, evaluate, and scale their impact. It will also enlist expertise from external evaluators to gather evidence on the factors that enable or prevent projects from expanding in different contexts.

The call for applications for the 2017 HEA cohort will be announced in September 2016.


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. Providing access to quality education is a core component of UNHCR’s protection mandate. Find out more about UNHCR’s Education Strategy.

UNHCR Innovation partners with people inside and outside of UNHCR to innovate with and for refugees. This multidisciplinary unit works collaboratively with refugees, academia, and the private sector to creatively address challenges faced by uprooted or stateless people worldwide.

For more information about UNHCR and its work visit:

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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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About DFID

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty, building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for all of us which is firmly in the UK’s national interest. We're ending the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit. This project is being supported by DFID’s Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Programme (HIEP), which develops and tests innovative approaches to humanitarian practice. Demand for humanitarian assistance is likely to rise in future, while economic constraints are also increasing. In this context it is important to ensure that the new, effective and cost efficient approaches are developed.

For more information about DFID and its work visit:

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