Refugee children at school Majdi Fathi/ZumaPress

No Child Left Out

UNESCO estimates that at least 250 million of the world’s children of primary-school age are unable to read, write, or do basic arithmetic. This week, the international community will have a chance to redress this scandalous state of affairs when policymakers meet at the World Education Forum to agree on new global targets.

SEOUL – On a recent visit to a camp for Syrian refugees in Turkey, I witnessed some of the most powerful displays of human endurance that anyone can imagine. And yet, amid all the stories of trauma and loss, what affected me the most was these refugee families’ unquenchable thirst for education.

The children I spoke to told me of their continued desire to learn in the camp’s makeshift schools, crammed into classes and taught in shifts running from before dawn until after dark. Their parents spoke of the hope they place in the transformative power of education.

Syria once boasted universal education. Now, with more than four million people forced to flee their homes because of the violence wracking the country, it has become one of the world’s many places suffering from what can only be described as a global education crisis. There are an estimated 58 million primary-school-aged children out of school worldwide, and those affected by conflict and natural disasters are among the hardest to reach.

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