THE celebrated American poet Maya Angelou wrote in her poem Still I Rise: "Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I'll rise.” As I reflect on these words and on individuals who show steadiness, and an ability to rise in meeting challenges, my mind often turns to students around the world.

Students globally have been especially harmed during this world pandemic. Were there medals minted for resiliency and perseverance during Covid-19, students, wherever their country, would be deserving of gold.

They represent some of finest examples of determination. There have been genuine efforts by international governments to provide substantial safety nets, and inject emergency funding for students. It is not simply that students deserve this support, it is that they have earned it during this international crisis.

On the college and university level in the United States, President Biden signed into law in March a rescue plan that included approximately £29bn for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). These funds represented the third stream of funding under this scheme to better enable colleges and universities to provide cash grants to students impacted by Covid-19.

The earlier disbursements totalled approximately £26.5bn – bringing the grand total disbursement to approximately £65bn. Funds not only supported student financial needs, but also institutional needs.

In the UK this year an additional £50 million was provided by the government to care for students facing pandemic related pressures. This figure was on top of £20 million of hardship funding last year.

This £70 million figure is on top of the £256m of a government-funded student premium for universities. In Scotland, the government announced £20 million of additional hardship funding for students. This funding brings the total level of support from the Scottish government for college and university students to nearly £100 million.

Determining amounts for which segments of society and pockets of the economy during Covid has been and continues to be complex. Government policy and budget leaders around the world have faced genuine challenges in determining how much to allocate and where.

A focus on shoring up college and university students is essential. Emergency support for students has been a vital life line at a critical time. Student, college, and university leaders deserve much credit for their advocacy.

Matt Crilly, president of National Union of Students in Scotland, is a tireless campaigner on behalf of 500,000 students. He recently told me that, “this year, Scottish students have been on the front line as student nurses, doctors and paramedics. Students have been studying in bedrooms, corridors and anywhere we could find a space.”

He added that “some have continued their part-time jobs keeping food on supermarket shelves, while others lost jobs as pubs and restaurants closed. Students have had a rough year, and we all hope for better days to come.”

His comments effectively frame the dire situation at hand, and hope for the future. Governments who have provided substantial support have done well – support for education is a fundamental pillar of the role of government.

Where world policy and political leaders must provide greater focus and attention is in supporting students at all levels in the developing world. We have a severe international and humanitarian emergency before us.

Basic education at the local level of impoverished communities has been severely imperiled because of the pandemic. A lack of bold action at this moment will result in increased long-term abject poverty and wider gender inequality due to so many children and girls falling off the path of education. Leaders should listen to entities such as the Global Partnership for Education and learn from what organisations like Glasgow-based Mary’s Meals are doing.

In this moment of fear, Mary’s Meals worked with governments, community leaders, and partners to find new methods of distribution of a daily meal to children while they learned school lessons at home. That meal kept vulnerable and valiant children moving forward on the educational path.

Countless children in deep poverty have a remarkable light of courage and a desire to learn, but they need resources ranging from food, books, teachers, material, health, and infrastructure to help them overcome barriers resulting from Covid and other factors.

The generation of students around us from primary to higher education, from each corner of the globe, have taught us about courage, grit, and resilience. They have lived this pandemic, sacrificed, shouldered unique stress, and still they rise! They are stars in the world firmament, a group I respectfully call the Resilient Generation. As they strive forward, we should continue to lift their burdens, and sustain them now as never before.

Ian Houston has spent his career in Washington, DC as an advocate for diplomacy, trade, global poverty alleviation, intercultural dialogue, and as a non-profit leader. He currently serves as President of the Scottish Business Network (SBN) in the US and SBN Ambassador in Washington, DC. He serves on the board of the Robert Burns Ellisland Museum and Farm in Auldgirth and is the author of “Under Candle Bright.” His views do not necessarily reflect the views of SBN or Ellisland.