grandi5_K M AsadLightRocket via Getty Images_refugee education K.M. Asad/LightRocket via Getty Images

Closing the Refugee Education Gap

Over the past year, the share of young refugees enrolled in school has ticked up, with relatively pronounced improvements at the higher-education level. But unless refugee enrollment at the secondary level rises significantly, the pathway to success will remain blocked for far too many students.

GENEVA – Nowadays, making an investment – whether in shares, bonds, property, gold, lottery tickets, or the latest startup – is quick and easy. But when it comes to investments in people, the dividends are not always as clear, nor is the means by which one can measure the returns.

One might be doubly wary of investing in people who have been uprooted from their homes, stripped of their livelihoods and possessions, possibly separated from their families, and forced to start all over again. But, in fact, refugees are one of the best investments out there. Educating those who have been displaced by conflict and upheaval is not an expense, but a golden opportunity.

For most people in advanced economies, education is how one feeds one’s curiosity, discovers one’s passions, and learns to look after oneself, navigating the worlds of work and civic and social life. For refugees, education performs the same functions, but also does much more. It is the surest road to recovering a sense of purpose and dignity after the trauma of displacement. It also is – or at least should be – a route to economic self-sufficiency. At a time when governments are wasting trillions of dollars on conflict, investing in those who have been forcibly displaced is a no-brainer.

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