Education for All Children—No Matter Where They Live
According to a statement by a new NGO called A World at School, only two percent of the funds needed for education during humanitarian crises has been available historically, making it the least funded mission. Worldwide, 57 million children do not attend school. So far, 118,000 children who have escaped the Syrian fighting have been given the means to continue to learn while living in refugee camps. However, less than one third of the $161 million dollars needed to educate Syrian refugees has been raised. With an end of the year expectation of half a million youths in camps in Lebanon alone, more work must be done.
A Time World article tells us that Malala Yousafzai, best known for surviving a Taliban assassination attempt, has become an advocate for educational rights for students everywhere. With more than a 40 percent dropout rate in the last year for the first through ninth grades, Syrian children are in need of as much support as possible. Fortunately, people like Malala understand the importance of school and are willing to work to provide these essential services. In a recent press conference, The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said about Malala and other activists fighting for these human rights, “They are determined to do what they can to help girls and boys in Syria in this, the biggest humanitarian crisis of this century, get not only the right to food and shelter but the right to education so they do not lose their childhood, so that we do not have a wasted generation.”
If the lack of funding continues, and schools are not made available, this group of refugees will be even worse off when they return to their country than they are now. Farah Haddad, a Syrian youth activist, appeared at the press conference to express her views on the issues facing her countrymen. She believes that sustained peace won’t be possible without education: “Long before the conflict in my homeland boomed into open fighting, adults were planting the seeds of hatred and agony in the hearts of future adults…while this carnage still rages we can and we must form a plan for what to do for the young people of Syria after the fighting stops.”
Malala and Gordon Brown have teamed up on an initiative to keep the quest for knowledge alive for the children displaced by the Syrian crisis. They aim to raise money to provide the classroom resources needed for 300,000 youths who are currently living in Lebanon. To launch the project, Malala recently held a Skype conversation with a set of twins who were forced from their home over a year ago. These girls radiated joy at the notion of being able to return to school. With the help of dedicated individuals like Malala and Farah Haddad, this new project, the “biggest single humanitarian initiative so far,” has a high chance to vastly improve the futures of Syrian children. To see more about Malala’s efforts in this crisis and to sign a petition urging world powers to donate more to fund the educational needs of refugees, click here.