HP + Global Citizen Come Together at Cannes to Show Why Education Cannot Wait

Education currently receives less than 2% of humanitarian aid
Sep 7, 2017 9:55 AM ET

Originally published on Global Citizen

by Madge Thomas

On the one-year anniversary of the World Humanitarian Summit, Global Citizen and HP joined forces, hosting the Educate Every Child, Everywhere event during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival. The event brought together corporate partners, members of international press associations and global citizens, to spotlight the progress and dire need for education in emergencies, including through the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund.

Education currently receives less than 2% of humanitarian aid. That’s a catastrophic oversight for the 75 million children and youth currently missing out on an education — over half of whom are girls. Educating these children is the first step toward lifting them out of trauma and helping them to rebuild their future and their communities.

Speaking at the event in Cannes, HP Chief Supply Chain Officer Stuart Pann movingly recalled why this issue resonates so strongly for him through his own family’s tale of forced migration II. He spoke of HP's support for the most vulnerable and displaced to access learning and opportunity, including through the power of digital technology and access to quality education.

Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans outlined the role Global Citizens — including international star, Rihanna — played  in the launch and first financial commitments generated in support of ECW, which is the first-ever fund for education in emergencies. Appropriately, given the event was in France, Evans recalled the now-viral tweets Rihanna and global citizens sent to French President Francois Hollande resulting in that country’s pledge to Education Cannot Wait last year. In speaking about the 75 million children who are out of school due to conflict and natural disaster, Evans suggested that bringing education to those who have lost so much could be a game changer for refugee children and young people. 

Yasmine Sherif, who has just been appointed as the Director of the ECW fund, made her first public appearance at the event to call on all those gathered, including the private sector, to come together to support and address the critical issue of education in emergencies. Ms Sherif has about 20 years of UN expertise, including field roles in conflict and crisis affected areas. She attended the event following a visit to projects and stakeholders in Baghdad, reminded the audience that ECW can connect those who have, and can give, with those who have lost and will give back. She cited successful investments in the fund in Syria, Yemen and Chad, and upcoming investments in Ethiopia that are already bringing education to over 3 million kids.

This was a fitting way for three partners, all working to ensure education for every child, everywhere, to come together and use their voices and platforms to amplify a critical issue. While historically the Cannes Film Festival didn’t always promote social issues, in recent years, its films have focused more on humanitarian and global challenges, including refugees and climate change. It is great to see corporations like HP, which has been a long-time sponsor of the Cannes Film Festival, use the platform of the festival to encourage action on an issue it cares deeply about. With a problem so vast, everyone has to play their part to help fix it. That includes corporations.

This is also not the first time Global Citizens have seen HP step up on education in emergencies. When Global Citizen targeted companies in 2016, with the help of 23,738 emails from Global Citizens, three companies, including HP, made individual commitments at the Global Citizen Festival that totalled more than $4.5 million collectively, set to affect the lives of 150,000 refugees. As part of this, HP committed more than $1 million in technology and training support to help refugees, alleviate poverty, and improve the lives of over 100,000 people in the coming year. Its work establishing six HP Learning Studios in the Middle East is further evidence of progress towards this commitment.

By driving action through its business and programs and supporting the work of Global Citizen and advocacy on Education Cannot Wait, HP is helping advance quality education for every child, everywhere.