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Education in Emergencies

Education not only boosts children’s chances of building a better life for themselves and their families; it also instills in them the skills and values they need to end conflicts and help rebuild their societies. That is why global education initiatives should include a focus on schooling in crisis-affected environments.

NEW YORK – Some time ago, I met a young girl in Jordan’s vast Zaatari refugee camp. Like the tens of thousands of other children there, she and her family had fled the ever-worsening conflict in Syria. I first met her in a makeshift classroom situated in a sea of tents; later, I saw her again, playing with other children on a rough playground.

I asked her where she would rather be, learning in the classroom or playing with her friends. I know what my answer would have been at her age. But she chose the classroom – and her answer speaks volumes. Of all the things she was forced to leave behind in Syria, her education was the one thing she could not afford to lose – not if she were ever going to realize her dream of being a doctor and avoid a future dictated by deprivation, violence, and loss.

I’ve heard that same hunger for learning voiced by so many children affected by the crisis in Syria and other emergencies around the world. Children desperately want to go to school. Their families desperately want them to get an education.

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