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Education Innovation in the Middle East

With new financing tools at their disposal, social entrepreneurs can help to improve the Middle East's schools and curricula. The region’s public and nonprofit sectors need only recognize the promise of social enterprise in education, and create the conditions for entrepreneurs to succeed.

LONDON – Supporting the millions of newly displaced people of the Middle East demands resources far beyond the capacity of the United Nations, and is a continuous humanitarian-aid challenge for companies, foundations, and public-sector donors. While UN peacekeepers are financed by a system of “assessed contributions,” humanitarian aid depends on voluntary donations. Education, which is prioritized below basic survival needs like food and shelter, all too often gets left behind.

This failure is far more dangerous than it might seem at first glance. In fact, we now confront an education crisis that threatens to leave a lost generation of young people without any hope for a better future. The majority of Syria’s six million displaced children remain out of school, while around 250,000 young people miss out on a college education. In war-torn Yemen and Iraq, millions more children are also missing out on school. Some may go through all their school-age years without ever entering a classroom.

But thanks to the Platform for Education in Emergencies Response, charities, philanthropists, and foundations can unite to help refugee students find higher-education opportunities, and to provide safe havens for lecturers and professors persecuted by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. PEER will connect college-ready Syrian refugees with refugee-ready colleges, and it will eventually be a web-based higher-education conduit for displaced students at all grade levels worldwide.

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