Refugee Children Want to be in School

A refugee is a person fleeing conflict or persecution. They are defined and protected in international law, and must not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom are at risk. There are currently more than 20 million refugees worldwide, and more than half of refugees are children (UNHCR). To learn more about refugees read here.

So what happens to refugee children once they arrive to a new country? Many refugee children spend their entire childhoods away from home and sometimes are separated from their families. These children have been exposed to incredible violence and are at high risks to experience abuse, neglect, exploitation, trafficking or military recruitment.

But children, particularly young children, are incredibly resilient. By having the ability to learn, play, and explore, they can find ways to cope with the hardships they have faced.

The issue lies in the accessibility of education to these refugee children. Refugee children may be living in countries where their mother tongue is not spoken, they may not have any money to get school supplies, may not have any means of transportation to get to the closest school or they may not have access to any schools at all . UNHCR reports that more than half of the 6 million school age children under its mandate have no school to go to.

Educating refugee children is incredibly important because of the implications and responsibilities the next generation would hold if they ever were to return to their home. Unfortunately, only 22 percent of refugee children ever attend secondary school, and only one percent ever attend university (UNHCR). The United Nations has called on government donors, humanitarian agencies, development partners and private-sector partners to maintain their commitment to ensuring that every child receives a quality education, which is expressed in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4. (You can read more about the SDGs here.) By not providing education to refugees children, achieving SDG 4 by 2030 will be impossible.

A Syrian refugee child counts the numbers, from 1 to 5, written in Arabic on a blackboad during a non-formal education program at an informal tented settlement in Mohamara, near Halba, in Akkar, north of Lebanon, Friday, February 20, 2015. The children in this class are aged between 4 and 8.Photographer: Dalia Khamissy

A Syrian refugee child counts the numbers, from 1 to 5, written in Arabic on a blackboad during a non-formal education program at an informal tented settlement in Mohamara, near Halba, in Akkar, north of Lebanon, Friday, February 20, 2015. The children in this class are aged between 4 and 8.Photographer: Dalia Khamissy

Concern Worldwide is working hard to bridge the gap between refugee children in the educational system in their host country. In dealing specifically with the Syrian refugee crisis, Concern has developed 18 projects in education, livelihoods, protection, food security, and water sanitation in Turkey, Lebanon, and in Syria where Concern is helping internally displaced persons. In Turkey, Concern programs are supporting the education of 2,500 children in seven schools by helping pay teachers, provide teaching and learning materials, training teachers, and repairing school infrastructure with plans to expand to eight more schools and help close to 7,500 students. Learn more about Concern’s refugee programs here.

How can you help? Advocate. The best way to start helping  is to educate your friends, family, and peers in the current situation of refugee children. Share this blog post, host an event, or host a fundraiser to raise money for programs working for refugee rights. You can donate that money to organizations like Concern that is committed to educating refugee children; you can donate to Concern Worldwide US here.