“If we continue to fail these children, the consequences of our inaction for young people will haunt us for generations to come.” – Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education.
The United Nations announced earlier this month that Syrians are now the largest refugee population in the world – more than 7.5 million Syrians are displaced internally, while another 3.2 million are registered refuges in neighboring countries. That’s nearly half of Syria’s total population.
This displacement has left education in crisis across the host countries in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordon, Iraq and Egypt. While each of these countries officially allows Syrian children access to their public education system, barriers remain. This creates very real risks to the quality of education for both host country nationals and Syrian children. Therefore, continuous investment in these countries’ education system is important so that the quality of education doesn’t fall backwards.
The R.A.C.E or known as “Reaching All Children with Education in Lebanon” Strategy has been developed through the commitment from the Government of Lebanon. The plan is to collaborate with the international community to provide access to quality learning opportunities for more than 470,000 Syrian and underprivileged Lebanese children by 2016.
This strategy is a race against time as the progress that we have made so far is slow and we need to ensure we do not fail to provide these children. This strategy plays out in two main ways. First, we need the international/donor community to come through with predictable financing as this support has fallen short consistently. Second, we need develop a framework for non-formal education that eliminates barriers to ensure that we can hit key education targets.
Already operational, R.A.C.E Strategy will be able to accommodate thousands more if fully funded but it cannot be fully executed until we form a delivery and financing pact between the government and the international community.
Education is critical for all children, but it is especially urgent for those children who have been affected by conflict. Syrian children must have access to schools either in the refugee camps or in the communities, giving them the opportunity to continue their education in a safe and friendly environment in the hope that even while the fighting continues, children’s futures are protected.
Maria Calivis, a regional director of UNICEF, sums up this long-term problem facing Syria: “If this problem (failure to educate youth) is left unaddressed, the children will lose hope, especially the adolescents… They will replicate and perpetuate the violence that they have seen. And they will lack the skills and knowledge that one day will be needed to rebuild Syria”.
By investing in the country’s future in this way, the international community can help ensure education isn’t another casualty of the war. And perhaps help lay the foundations for a brighter future.
Watkins, K. and Zyck, S. (2014). Living on Hope, Hoping for Education. The Failed Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Overseas Development Institite. Pp. 1-13.
"Hi, I'm Rev, 24 years old and a Master's student at Murdoch University, Western Australia. My hobbies include writing and baking of all sorts! Education has always played an important role in my life and B.O.B works towards that same goal of raising awareness and funds for the education of children in refugee camps. You get to work alongside selfless people that share the same perspective.