NEW YORK — UNICEF Next Generation recently launched its No Lost Generation program to help children in Syria gain access to education. In order to raise money for this new program, on October 30, 2014, UNICEF hosted an Alice in Wonderland themed masquerade ball in three cities simultaneously across the United States.
UNICEF Next Generation, founded by Jenna Bush Hager, consists of a group of young professionals committed to advancing UNICEF’s mission of helping the world’s children. The group hosted the masquerade ball in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago in an effort to raise at least $500,000 for the No Lost Generation project. The New York celebration took place at the Marquee Nightclub, which donated the space for the event allowing the entire proceeds to go towards UNICEF’s project.
No Lost Generation’s mission is to prevent the loss of an entire generation to the ongoing conflict in Syria. It seeks to provide displaced Syrian children access to the educational materials they need to properly develop and attempts to restore some sense of normalcy in the midst of the conflict. UNICEF hopes to reach the most vulnerable of Syrian children in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey who have been out of school for a long period of time or are at risk of dropping out of school as a result of the conflict.
According to UNICEF, No Lost Generation will improve Syrian children’s educational opportunities in five main ways. “Increasing access to safe learning spaces and materials, expanding access to remedial education and recreational activities, strengthening alternative education programs for out of school children, constructing and rehabilitating learning spaces, and supporting teacher training initiatives.”
To increase access to safe learning spaces, UNICEF in partnership with the Syrian Ministry of Education and the media, will launch a “Back to Learning” campaign to help rebuild and bring awareness to these safe spaces thereby encouraging parents to return their children to school. Each child will receive a backpack filled with school supplies, and teachers will receive training materials and supplies in an effort to maintain quality learning and teaching standards in these spaces.
By expanding access to remedial education, UNICEF will help children that have been out of school for months and even years catch up. Recreational activities will serve as an important aspect of the psychosocial support these children need to deal with the conflict. Such psychosocial support includes participation in school clubs that allow children to engage in fun, educational activities that help prevent children from dropping back out of school.
UNICEF strives to find alternative methods to help the most vulnerable children gain access to education, as educational opportunities decrease as the conflict continues. According to UNICEF, the Syrian national education system has ceased to function in many part of the country. Therefore, through the No Lost Generation project UNICEF seeks to establish these alternative education programs to maintain educational standards and ensure all children have the opportunity to attend school.
UNICEF was able to raise $460,000 at the masquerade ball which will help provide educational assistance for over 500,000 displaced Syrian children. Additionally, the Education Above All Foundation, a global initiative that works to provide educational opportunities to children in conflict and extreme poverty, agreed to match the amount UNICEF raises for its No Lost Generation project.
UNICEF emphasizes that providing Syrian children with access to education is vital to avoid losing an entire generation to hopelessness. Protracted conflict, such as the one in Syria, can be extremely detrimental to a child’s development as it nurtures the idea that conflict is normal and something to be replicated. By providing affected children with access to safe learning spaces and educational opportunities, UNICEF hopes to reverse this mentality and help this generation of Syrian children to build a better future for themselves and their country.
– Erin Sullivan
Sources: The Source, UNICEF USA, UNICEF 2, Education Above ALl