In many ways, education is the foundation of our society. In school, children are exposed to new ideas and perspectives. In essence, education encompasses a universal set of goals: engaging with other students and forging friendships while at the same time learning how to read, write, and develop a sense of intellectual curiosity. For those of us in nations with developed education systems, being provided some degree of education is a given; however, for many refugees fleeing war-torn and politically unstable nations being provided with an education is an afterthought.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to education.” However, for many refugees around the world, this is simply not a reality. For example, compared to the global average of 84 percent, only 22 percent of refugee adolescents attend secondary school. Additionally, less than one percent of refugees receive some form of higher education. More than half of all refugees between the ages of five and seventeen don’t have access to any education. Statistics often dehumanize the individuals who they represent.
With this being said, we need to realize that the refugees who are deprived of education are individuals who, just like anyone, want to have access to an education and have hopes for a better future.
Even worse, simply neglecting this systemic issue will contribute to the cycle of regression in areas of conflict and political instability. Creating better systems of education for refugees will have generational returns, as educating an individual at a young age is the foundation for their future efforts to impact community and global change. As activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has said, “There are many problems, but I think there is a solution to all these problems; it’s just one, and it’s education.”
One group trying to create positive change in the area of education is the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA). This group has recently started the Adopt-a-Future Campaign. With this campaign, the UNA-USA is working in conjunction with the UN Refugee Agency to provide access to education for refugees around the world. Their efforts are helping, but are still in need of your support. The UNA-USA encourages monetary donations for this program and is also in need of individuals interested in hosting fundraising events. This year, all funds raised for the Adopt-a-Future Campaign will be going to two schools at two separate UNHCR camps in Kenya. Additionally, all generated funds will be matched by the Educate a Child Fund of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar and various other philanthropic partners.