THE BLOG
09/15/2016 10:04 am ET | Updated Sep 15, 2016

World leaders must do more to educate refugee children, say top academics and influencers

We, 20 leading academics and influencers from across the world, have joined forces today in an open letter to world leaders - asking that they do more to ensure refugees obtain an education. With two crucial international refugee summits next week in New York and with the release today of the UN Refugee Agency's first refugee education report - now presents a historic oppurtunity for change. One we may not see the like of again.  
 
The open letter - signed by myself, Gordon and Sarah Brown, Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University, Hanan Al Hroub, the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, and leading voices at other academic institutions - demonstrates a broad  consensus on this essential issue of refugee education.

We invite you to read the letter:
 
Dear World Leaders,
 
Around the world, we know the consequences of children being out of school. They are vulnerable to exploitation, to marginalization and to a life of destitution. For refugee children, the risks are even greater - they have no country to protect them.
 
Education is therefore not only an investment in the future of a refugee child, it is also a lifeline to their protection. School is a place where they can learn life-saving information, a place where the devastation they fled can be left behind. A place where young minds can be inspired by science, technology and building a better society. The knowledge and skills acquired through education are things nobody can strip away.
 
Yet unfortunately, education is a distant dream for many refugees. Fewer than one in two refugee children are enrolled in primary school. This drops down to fewer than one in four for secondary school. It is unlikely any will go on to higher education, less than one per cent of all refugee children do.
 
We, institutions and individuals who support the rights of children, believe it is time to end the education injustice perpetrated on refugee children. In our roles, we see the life-changing impact education has on children and young people. We know the future security of individuals and societies is inextricably linked to the knowledge and values developed through education.
 
This is why we are supporting UNHCR's #WithRefugees petition, which asks that every refugee child get an education. Alongside the petition, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, also released its first State of the World's Education for Refugees report today. 
 
We now have a historic opportunity for change. Two global refugee summits are taking place on the 19th and 20th September in New York. With enough support from States at these summits, all refugee children will be able to access education and go on to make a positive contribution to society. Please give them this opportunity. Please stand #WithRefugees.

Your sincerely, 

* Aqeela Asifi - Teacher, Afghan refugee and Nansen Refugee Award Winner 2015
* Hanan Al Hroub, Winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2016
* Lee C. Bollinger - President of Columbia University
* Gordon Brown - Former UK Prime Minister and UN Envoy for Global Education
* Sarah Brown - President of Theirworld
* David Cantor - Director of the Refugee Law Initiative, University of London 
* Constantinos Christofides - Director of University of Cyprus
* Jeff Crisp - Research Associate for University of Oxford and Chatham House 
* Torstein Dale-Akerlund - Head of International Studies at Bjorknes University 
* Geoff Gilbert - Professor of International Refugee Law,  University of Essex 
* IKEA Foundation, IKEA
* Jennifer Hyndman, Professor and Director of Center for Refugee Studies, York University
* Karen Jacobsen, Professor of Global Migration, TUFTS University 
* Jane McAdam, Professor of Law and Director of Kaldor Centre, University of New South Wales 
* Global Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
* James Silk, Clinical Professor of Law, Yale University 
* Dean Vali R. Nasr, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
* Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation
* Andria Wisler, Professor and Executive Director of Centre for Social Justice Research, Teaching, and Service, Georgetown University 

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