SEATTLE — The approaching spring season marks the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict. The last few years have witnessed the largest displacement of people in history. Drawn-out violence and upheaval have meant a lack of access to education for Syrian refugees.
According to Girls Not Brides, child marriages among Syrian refugees have increased to 26 percent. Additionally, a third of young refugees are child laborers, which means they aren’t receiving a quality education.
Providing education for Syrian refugees is a vital part of the recovery process. The steady routine of school provides children with a renewed sense of security and belonging. Furthermore, higher education equips students with knowledge that could repair the ongoing political strife in Syria.
“The war will end, but the young people who would be integral in rebuilding the country are being left behind,” Keith David Watenpaugh, author of education report “The War Follows Them,” told the University of California Davis College of Letters and Science.
To bridge the growing gap in education for Syrian refugees, generous donors raised $250 million for the U.N. envoy to help young Syrian refugees return to the classroom. The program will assist schools in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Already, Lebanon has implemented double-shift classrooms to accommodate 200,000 Syrian students, who attend school in the evenings after their Lebanese peers have gone home.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to raise a further $500 million at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The World Economic Forum allows the world’s brightest minds to mutually address global issues and potential solutions.
Gordon hopes to raise more donations at a pledging conference that will take place in London on Feb. 4. The Syria Donors Conference will unite the U.N., Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the U.K. under three common goals: raise funding for displaced persons in Syria and refugees in neighboring countries, discover solutions for long-term funding and provide employment and education to those affected by the crisis.
Several charitable organizations, including Save the Children and Plan International, have stepped forward to call the converging governments to action.
“We are calling on the participants in the London conference to commit to ensure all children and young people affected by the conflict have access to safe, quality, and relevant educational opportunities,” claimed the joint statement.
In light of the efforts to reach out to Syrian children, the U.N. announced its goal to double the number of young refugees in school and reach one million before the end of 2016. Brown expressed great confidence in the world’s ability to raise enough money to provide education for Syrian refugees.
“By next year every single child refugee would be offered a place in school, whether they be in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey,” said Brown.