Statement by Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education
Thursday, 10 September 2015, 12:00 EST

  • Brown backs new plan to enroll 1 million Syrian refugees into school in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon
  • Calls on international community to provide $250 million in resources to support international agencies and governments to deliver education for Syrian refugees
  • Experts outline measures to scale-up double-shift schools, temporary learning centers and catch-up programs for refugee children
  • 200,000-student target in Lebanon could be achieved in time for September start of school if $30 million shortfall is bridged
  • Some refugee children have been out of school for over five years, vulnerable to child labour, trafficking and early marriage

Brown said: 
“Today, as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, I am backing three reports on Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, showing in graphic detail how we can immediately help over 1 million Syrian refugee children off the streets and into schools. 

“Nearly four million Syrians, half of them children, are now refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

“Despite the wonderful and heroic work of the international agencies, whose humanity I applaud, millions of children are falling through the net, trapped between a humanitarian system that rightly focuses on shelter and food and a development aid system that does not plan for emergencies.

“Millions of the refugee children will go through their entire school-age years in exile and thousands of them will never enter a school classroom.

“These children will be away from their homes for more than 10 years on average.  They will have lost their childhood, something never to come back.

“So today, with detailed recommendations in three separate reports – one on Jordan, one on Turkey, and an updated report on Lebanon – published by Theirworld with A World at School and the Global Business Coalition for Education – we are putting forward a plan that could take ONE MILLION Syrian refugees away from the dangers of child labour, child trafficking and child marriage and into education.

“THE FIRST REPORT ON LEBANON shows the progress we have made but the challenges that are still to be overcome for what may soon be 500,000 school-age refugee children and youth.

“Yesterday I talked with the Lebanese Education Minister who has set up a double-shift system and a target to accommodate 200,000 of the refugee students this year in Lebanese schools. He is also expanding accelerated learning for thousands more who have missed out.

“The international community is still short about $30 million to fully reach the target for the new school year in Lebanon, slated to start in a few days’ time. School places are now guaranteed for just over 140,000 students, but our long-term plan is to reach all students. 

“THE SECOND REPORT OUTLINES THE CRISIS IN JORDAN where 90,000 refugee children still remain out of school. 

“This week I talked to King Abdullah of Jordan who is supportive of the efforts in partnership with the international community to provide education for these children.

“THE THIRD REPORT CHARTS THE TRAGEDIES IN TURKEY, host to the largest number of Syrian refugees and the largest number of refugees worldwide.

“These refugee children in the region could be in school if we were to scale-up finance for the efforts, including expanding the double-shift system pioneered by the Lebanese Government and being used in Jordan and Turkey, and by putting in place other measures for Syrian young people to catch up on missed years of school.

“We must also ensure the youngest children do not miss out by preparing them to learn through expanded early childhood education.

“In Lebanon, under the double-shift system, the first half of the school day is used to teach children in French and English, the second half to teach Syrian refugees in Arabic.

“Normally, during emergencies there are no buildings, no staff and no capacity. But in the case of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where most Syrian refugees reside, what is missing are not the classrooms or the trained teachers – but the money to pay for them.

“For an average of $500 a year, or less than $1-2 per day in many instances, we can provide school places that would allow parents and children to do what they say they would prefer to do: gain the skills to rebuild their communities and country.

“Building on the approximate $150 million we have already raised this year for education for Syrian refugees, we will need upwards of $250 million more to achieve these goals.

“I call on the international community not to cut or shift international aid to the region but, as the school year begins, deliver these vitally needed additional funds.

Read the reports here.

For media enquiries or to request copies of the report, please contact: media@gordonandsarahbrown.com