Do you know that the average person displaced by war into a refugee camp or elsewhere stays there for 17 years? Even though I have worked in many refugee camps over the years, that statistic shocked me.
It was mentioned at a meeting I attended last week in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Basic Education Coalition, which I co-chair. The meeting focused on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 15-year goals set by the global community in 2000 to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty.”
Well, 2015 is coming soon and the discussion of our group focused on what has been achieved with regard to education and what’s next. The overall consensus was that globally there has been a huge amount of success in enrolling more kids into school. I can honestly say that ChildFund has contributed to that success in the communities in which we work worldwide. I see that during my field visits. We are one player in a network of many who have worked collaboratively to make this happen.
The biggest challenge going forward to achieving universal primary education? Again, there was consensus. It seems that schools in Kenya or India share the same problem that we hear about in education here in the U.S.: how do we ensure learning is going on in the classroom? And how can we measure that both locally and globally?
So, why did the refugee camp issue come up? If children don’t go to school while living in a camp, their prime window of opportunity for an education is lost. And you can’t “GED” a whole generation of children later on and get them all caught up. It just doesn’t work.
That one-time opportunity for childhood is very precious indeed.
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