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Education Needs Social Enterprise

With 260 million children not in school worldwide, education needs more champions to match the enthusiasm of, say, global-health and environmental advocates. And, because education has more room for innovation than any other development sector, there is a unique opportunity for social entrepreneurs.

LONDON – An estimated quarter-million young people in Syria are missing out on college as a result of the civil war there. Now, thanks to the Institute of International Education, charities, philanthropists, and foundations have united to help refugee students find higher-education opportunities, and to provide safe havens for lecturers and professors persecuted by the Syrian regime.

The Platform for Education in Emergencies Response will connect college-ready Syrian refugees with refugee-ready colleges. In time, PEER will serve as a conduit to higher education for displaced students worldwide, and it will cater to all education levels, by providing web-based information, points of contact, and much-needed counseling and support.

PEER is one project the Catalyst Trust for Universal Education – an education charity founded by former New York University President John Sexton – is now supporting. The Catalyst Trust is also looking at projects to rethink school auditing, spur social-impact investing in the education sector, and introduce curricula to encourage inter-faith coexistence. Any projects the Catalyst Trust supports will have to prove their scalability and share the goal of providing universal education, for the first time, to an entire generation of young people.

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