Brussels Syria Conference 2020 – Don’t forget about education

Published by
Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)
Written by
Rob Doble
Human Rights and Children's Rights - Right to Education
Forced Displacement - Refugees
Education Financing

On June 30, world leaders will convene virtually for the Brussels IV Conference - Supporting the future of Syria and the region. This is a fantastic opportunity for new funding and policy commitments to support education for Syrian children. 

Renewed commitments are urgently needed as world leaders are currently failing on their promises from previous conferences to provide education for all young Syrian refugees and prevent “a lost generation” of children.

As shown in Theirworld’s new briefing - Keeping our promise to Syria’s children: Education and the ‘No Lost Generation’ commitment - almost 750,000 refugee children are still out of education in the five main host countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt) - representing 36% of Syrian refugee school-age population. This is in addition to the over two million children out of education inside Syria - over one third of Syria’s child population.

As shown in the chart below, there was actually great progress between 2013 and 2017, with the percentage of children out of school falling from 70% to 34% (despite a huge increase in the number of Syrian refugee children). Yet, since then, progress has really stalled. 

If progress had been maintained at the rates of 2013-2017, then the promise would have been met by now. Conversely, if the performance of the past year continues, it will take until 2037 to achieve. That simply isn’t an option — we have to find the energy and commitment to reach that final third of children out of school.

Despite the scale of the education crisis facing these children inside Syria and in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt, our intel at the beginning of last week showed that there was a real risk that education was not going to be largely sidelined at the conference. That would have been a gross failure of political leadership.

That is why we rapidly formed a coalition of over 20 organisations - including Save the Children, INEE, Plan International, World Vision, Human Rights Watch, Education Cannot Wait and many more - to support an Open Letter urging the international community not to give up on the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee children who remain out of school. 

Signatories of the open letter to #SyriaConf2020 delegates to support Syrian children.

We also launched a twitter campaign towards the co-chairs of the conference - Mark Lowcock (@UNReliefChief) and Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) - calling on them to not forget education. There is still time to support this by tweeting the co-chairs asking them to prioritise education at the #SyriaConf2020 - every tweet counts.

We will be following the conference closely and hope that leaders remember the promises they have made. Syrian refugees haven’t given up on the hope of an education. We shouldn’t give up on them.

Rob DobleRob Doble is the Director of Policy, Advocacy and Programs at Theirworld. He has worked in global education policy for a number of years, including with the LEGO Foundation, Save the Children, and the Global Partnership for Education.


The views expressed in this blog are the author's own.