Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is the president of Theirworld and executive chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education

Entries by Sarah Brown

How We're Ensuring Syria's Refugee Children in Lebanon Have the Opportunity to Learn

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2015 | 7:00 PM

The number of Syrians who have suffered during four years of harrowing conflict continues to rise. As we approach the end of 2015 the complex situation shows no signs of abating, with war still raging, 7.6million displaced within Syria itself and 3.9million refugees seeking sanctuary in surrounding countries or further afield.

At Theirworld, we have been working to create school places for Syrian refugee children who have fled their homes to neighbouring countries in the Middle East. Education is often seen as an afterthought in times of crisis, at present only 1% of all humanitarian aid goes towards learning. But keeping kids in school provides them with so much more than the ability to read and write - it allows them to regain a sense of stability after a time of trauma, to plan for a future and to simply be children again.

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Earlier this month​​ I travelled to Lebanon to visit two schools which have implemented an innovative double​-shift system. The system allows Syrian children to study alongside Lebanese children by introducing a second shift in the afternoon, making use of existing infrastructure and allowing children to go back to school quickly.​

And speed is important, because it becomes harder and harder for young people to re-enter the education system with each year that passes. Syrian children, who lived in a country with near universal education prior to the war, now face being forced into child labour, early marriage or even become ​vulnerable to ​radicalis​ation as they are removed from the safety of the classroom and thrust into the adult world.​ Additional measures are being put into place through non-formal education with NGO and international partners to help children catch up on lost years​ and enter back into schools before it is too late to reclaim their childhood​.​

sarah brown

Lebanon has seen its population increase by 25% with 1.2million Syrians fleeing over the boarder to safety. This autumn​ more than 180,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon have gone back to school as a result of the shift system, many for the first time since the conflict began, and ​during my visit, I​​​​​ wanted to see the difference this has made to their lives.

At Mtein School, in Mount Lebanon, I spoke to pupils, teachers and parents who all had the same message - education is the most important thing for these children, it allows them to build and imagine a happier future. Ahmad, who at 14-years-old had been out of school for three years and worked for 15 hours a day in a petrol station to support his family told me that he wished for the day he was able to learn again. "I have hope now because school gives us hope," said Ahmad. "School is everything to us".

sarah brown

Getting children back into the classroom is only part of the challenge. At Theirworld, we are also looking at innovative approaches to supporting children once they are back in school. Many of these young people have had significant gaps in their learning, the majority are learning in languages that are not their mother tongue, and on top of this some are coming to school having had little or nothing to eat to start the day. These children inevitably struggle to keep up in class because of this and eventually many drop out.

I visited a new tech library in Mtein School which will support these students by using engaging and interactive techniques in teaching while also supporting language learning. There is a palpable excitement in the classroom as the children set up their simple Kano computers and logged on using handheld tablets - all children seem to have an effortless and fearless approach to technology and it is certainly no different here. Ravi, the Teach for Lebanon Fellow steering the tech group​,​ has set up an introductory lesson and is racing around the room checking everyone has the right app open so I leave them all to it.

sarah brown

I was also at the school to witness the launch of its new milk programme to provide pupils with a nutritious boost at the start of each day. We are working hard to establish the right interventions at a couple of schools in order to recommend what can be rolled out more widely. At Theirworld, we are keen to explore what works best to help children stay in school and learn, and once we determine this, we look at ways to scale it up, working with local education partners. We believe strongly that these partnerships - whether with other charities, private companies or government - are how we will be able to make big changes in children's lives.

We are already looking at lessons from the innovative double​-​shift system as the model is now being used to help Syrian refugee children in Jordan and Turkey. In Lebanon we're finding ways to accommodate more school children and ensure that no barrier stands in their way - from a nutritious snack to language learning and after school tech clubs to a safe school bus for the journey home. We will keep campaigning for support and funds​ to help governments and our many partners deliver places in school for many more refugee children. And we will keep pushing for new ideas to create the scalable solutions so that every child - regardless of borders - has opportunity to learn and build a better tomorrow.

Sarah Brown is the Founder and President of the children's charity Theirworld and Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education. At Theirworld, Sarah created A World At School, a global movement to get children across the world into education with hundreds of organisations working together on this shared...

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A New Beginning for Children

(2) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 8:00 PM

I was in New York last month for the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Amidst the fanfare of the Global Goals launch one thing stood out - a focus on education that has not been felt before at an international level.

But there was an overwhelming sense...

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Double Shift Dilemma

(0) Comments | Posted September 28, 2015 | 1:32 PM

Today is the first day back at school in Lebanon. Here, as all over the world, pupils are excited and a little nervous about meeting their new teachers and classmates. But there is a crucial difference in these schools -- today thousands of Syrian refugee children step back into the...

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The 59 Million Children the MDGs Did Not Reach

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2015 | 10:39 AM

We must always look back before we attempt to move forward. At the start of the millennium, the United Nations set the goal of achieving universal primary education for all children between six and 14 years old by the year 2015.

In the year 2000, there were 100 million children...

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Prioritising Education - A New Chance for the Children of Nepal

(1) Comments | Posted May 7, 2015 | 5:54 AM

The story of the impact of the Nepal earthquake continues to unfold and deepen. There is death, fear and devastation. But there are also heroes, rescues, generosity and intense moments of hope as a few of those feared lost are miraculously found amid the rubble.

The world...

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The Lessons of Rana Plaza: Tackling a Silent Crisis That Begins in Childhood

(1) Comments | Posted April 24, 2015 | 8:00 PM

Two years ago, when the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people, it became the largest disaster in the history of the garment industry. This woke up companies and people around the world to how their clothes are made and the absurdly long hours, lack...

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As We Mark International Women's Day 2015, Girls Stand #UpForSchool

(5) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 11:05 AM

In one month the world will commemorate a sad anniversary. It will be a year since 219 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, northern Nigeria, and taken into the dense forest never to be seen again despite global efforts to rescue them.

Even now parents cannot be sure...

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Better Education and Girls' Rights in Pakistan Start Now

(2) Comments | Posted October 3, 2014 | 11:28 AM

Amid the sadness and sorrows of a summer where children's rights have been ignored, neglected, and trampled upon in the world's conflict zones, there is a glimmer of hope.

In the Pakistan province of Sindh, child marriage has been outlawed with the most extensive legislation yet to dissuade patriarchs from...

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Rising #UpForSchool

(4) Comments | Posted September 21, 2014 | 10:40 PM

The ripples that world leaders felt at last year's UN global education meetings when for the first time a young person had a seat - and a voice - at every ministerial discussion table will be stronger this year.

There is a growing education emergency and young people are getting...

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The Countdown Starts Now

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 9:13 AM

An important landmark in the battle for children's rights will be marked today by the United Nations Secretary-General and celebrities ranging from Shakira to Lang Lang, all marking the 500-Day point of the #EducationCountdown to reach the Millennium Development Goals of universal education.

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Mark International Women's Day by Getting Girls in School

(0) Comments | Posted March 6, 2014 | 7:00 PM

Much of the focus for International Women's Day 2014 is on girls' education.

Increasingly the attention on girls and women at the heart of social and economic development means that how girls are educated and what skills women bring to the workplace come to the fore.

I have just returned...

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To Achieve Good Health We Need Good Education

(8) Comments | Posted January 22, 2014 | 11:00 AM

In 2008 I was privileged to work at the heart of a movement driven by many thousands of people to reduce maternal deaths and reverse two decades of blocked progress. With the maternal mortality campaign convened by the White Ribbon Alliance we highlighted how, by reducing the threat of death...

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When Will They Ever Learn?

(42) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 11:09 AM

Last autumn, when we saw the Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai being flown to receive emergency care at Britain's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, there was every reason to fear she might not live to see her 16th birthday. When the Taliban gunman targeted her on her way home from school, for her...

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Girls Out of School and Into Wedlock

(68) Comments | Posted October 10, 2012 | 1:20 PM

Pregnancy and childbirth is still the leading cause of death for teenage girls in the poorest corners of the world, and despite all the progress in reducing maternal mortality by 47 percent we have yet to save these young, vulnerable lives.

One of the biggest issues to resolve is child...

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The Teacher Who Inspired Me: Education Is the Key

(63) Comments | Posted September 24, 2012 | 7:23 PM

Each day a leading business figure looks back at their student days, and explains why it's vital to find a place in school for the 61 million children in the world who currently must go without.

I have often said that you can't define a woman by just...

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Education Is the Cure

(77) Comments | Posted March 6, 2012 | 11:00 PM

This week's international celebration of women is a vivid illustration of just how much the position of women in some countries around the world has improved over the past hundred years. But it also serves as a poignant reminder of how much work remains to be done in countries where...

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The White Ribbon Alliance in China

(10) Comments | Posted December 13, 2011 | 7:00 PM

The following is a speech delivered at the Women's Health Conference in Bejing, Tuesday 13 December 2011

I am delighted to be here in Beijing to address this important group on the issue of women's health.

I have enjoyed many visits to China over a number of years both officially...

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Give The Gift Of Life

(71) Comments | Posted December 13, 2011 | 10:09 AM

It's the deeply moving story of a young woman, poor and travelling by donkey, heavily pregnant and urgently looking for a safe place to give birth.

All she can find is a stable. Fortunately a beautiful, healthy child is born -- a birth that people have celebrated for the past...

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Athlete's Foot: Natural Remedies To Treat Foot Fungus

(6) Comments | Posted September 27, 2011 | 8:00 AM

Athlete's foot can be painful. But, luckily, it's also easy to fix. It's caused by a fungus called Trichophyton, which is part of the ringworm family. This fungus thrives in warm, moist environments like gym showers, changeroom floors, yoga studios, swimming pools... and your socks. Your body contracts athlete's foot...

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A Celebration of Progress for Women and a Pledge to Do More

(4) Comments | Posted September 19, 2011 | 3:35 PM

This week, world leaders convene at the United Nations General Assembly to review progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals as the 2015 deadline looms.

Maternal and newborn health is at the heart of their promise to reduce global poverty. What we need now is more health workers to save...

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