3 Million Empty Seats: The Education Gap Among Young Syrian Refugees

Photo credit: Rod Searcey

Across the Middle East, nearly three million Syrian children are not in school today, and access to education remains one of the most powerful drivers of onward migration to Europe.

“Without school, this generation of Syrian children will not have the skills necessary to be productive members in whatever country they choose to live,” said Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he addressed a solution-based workshop on providing education to Syrian refugee children.

This gathering was held on January 29 in Silicon Valley and was hosted by the US Department of State in partnership with the Global Philanthropy Forum, World Affairs Council, Google and Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and technology leaders came together to find opportunities to address this complex challenge.

To help generate new ideas, leading refugee experts, humanitarian NGOs, and university scholars provided context and key insights into existing efforts and current challenges faces on the ground.

Workshop attendees then broke into groups to explore tangible solutions including:

  • Strengthening the capacity of national education systems in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey to accommodate Syrian refugee students;
  • Providing certified alternative quality education for children who are unable to enter state schools;
  • Providing language support for Arabic-speaking Syrian children in Turkish-language schools in Turkey or public trilingual (Arabic/English/French) schools in Lebanon;
  • Removing the many and varied obstacles to formal or non-formal education enrollment for refugee children.

Group leaders reported out key findings as well as proposed several new initiatives and partnerships to Deputy Secretary Blinken and all workshop attendees.

The UNHCR has set up a website to track ideas and initiatives developed from the workshop.

Learn more at RefugeeEdTechSolutions.com.

Visit us on Medium to view selected tweets from this event.

Photo credit: Rod Searcey