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Education Cannot Wait

Many of the 75 million young people whose education has been interrupted by conflict and crisis are likely to spend their school-age years without entering a classroom, their talents undeveloped and their potential unlocked. But now there is hope that education will no longer be regarded as an unaffordable luxury when crises erupt.

LONDON – “Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen, and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be any use to him.” These words, spoken by Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, should be taken as a test of our sincerity, and as a challenge to our complacency, when considering the fate of the 30 million children displaced from their homes by civil wars and natural disasters.

More boys and girls have been uprooted by crisis than at any time since 1945. They are likely to spend their school-age years without entering a classroom, their talents undeveloped and their potential unlocked. There are now 75 million young people whose education has been interrupted by conflict and crisis. Yet urgency – and international law, which mandates the education of all displaced children – fails to inspire action.

Displaced children are more likely to become the youngest laborers in the factory, the youngest brides at the altar, and the youngest soldiers in the trench. Without opportunity, children are vulnerable to extremists and radicalization. Every year, close to a half-million girls are trafficked and vanish.

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