Refugee Education Crisis – Sad but True!

Not everyone can accept new people and give them everything to settle or restart their new life. With that thought in mind, I do wonder about the countries that accept refugees from all over the world. 

Going by the statistics of the UN’s refugee agency – UNHCR, Canada resettled the largest number of refugees out of 25 countries in 2018 by accepting just over 28,000 people, followed by the United States that resettled 22,900 refugees. Some 92,400 refugees were resettled globally in 2018, fewer than 7% of those awaiting resettlement worldwide.

More than two thirds of all refugees worldwide came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.

It is heartbreaking to imagine the plight of people fleeing homes to escape the bloodbath in their homeland due to wars, bombs, violence and fear. I feel so blessed to have a home, a family that doesn’t have to run anywhere to protect themselves. I am lucky to be living in a country that supports my dreams, my ambitions, makes me feel safe and gives me the confidence of never being in a ‘run-to-save-your-life’ situation. I can’t really imagine what the refugees go through when they have to leave behind all they have, to embark on a journey that is so uncertain. It may or may not lead them to a better future. 

The people who dare to step out and take the big risk of crossing over to another country, no doubt, have a very strong desire to lead a better life, have better accomplishments and give a better future to their family. Why else would anybody risk their life to be in a different land that could even prove hostile for them!

In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide. Isn’t it sad that a large number of population is dying everyday while crossing risky borders illegally, losing family members in war zones, struggling to make ends meet, watching their dreams shatter before their eyes and there is no end to it. 

It is commendable that many countries accept the refugees and give their hopes and desires a meaning, a direction. But it is not always easy to resettle everybody, it is not always easy to get what you have been dreaming of. These refugees, while fleeing their homes often leave behind their supporting documents like birth certificates, educational records, degrees, identification documents, making it difficult for them to get good jobs or entry into educational institutions. Many kids are unable to get into proper schools because they can’t speak the language of their new country. You feel left out when you are the odd one out. Isn’t that true?

Some kids are traumatized because of the forced displacement, because of what they have seen in the war zones or because of who they have lost as a result of violence. It takes years to get back to a normal mental state. For such kids, survival becomes more important than studies. It is important that these refugee kids are accepted and given love and care everywhere. The emotional health of young kids largely depends on how their childhood has been. Therefore, it is important to give them a safe and happy place to live right from the beginning.  

Coming back to studies, according to UNHCR, as refugee children grow older, the barriers preventing them from accessing education become harder to overcome: only 63 per cent of refugee children go to primary school, compared to 91 percent globally. Around the world, 84 percent of adolescents get a secondary education, while only 24 percent of refugees get the opportunity. The steep decline in refugee enrolment between primary and secondary school is the direct result of lack of funding for refugee education.

This is the truth- many countries do not have enough resources to accommodate the refugees. A region could have high density of refugees and no school to attend. It could also be possible that the schools are overflowing with a large number of students but with no extra teachers. They may even lack basic sanitation and hygiene facilities. Sometimes the lack of documents and educational records also make it difficult for the schools to give admission to children. 

A sad truth is also that refugees are not welcomed everywhere. Not everyone likes having them around and that is the reason not all schools offer enrolments and not many people appreciate their presence in their neighbourhoods.

Humans of New York posted the story of one young refugee’s family who was denied by the US. 

My years in Turkey have been the hardest four years of my life. When we first arrived from Syria, we couldn’t communicate with anyone. I had no friends. If we wanted an egg from the store, we had to make chicken sounds. I paid for everything in this apartment by working as an interpreter for an NGO. We started at a zero and I built us up to a six, all by myself, and I’m very proud of that. But we can go no further without citizenship. I can’t get a degree. I can’t work any other job. Turkey has taken many refugees and we should be thankful for that. And the people here were nice to us at first. Our neighbors brought us rice and food. But then more refugees came. And more. And then everything changed. Now people shout at us in the streets. They tell us to leave. But we have nowhere to go. A man recently started sending me messages on Facebook, saying: ‘Get out!’ I didn’t even know him! Why me? Why did he choose me? We’ve had to switch apartments four times because our landlord decided that Arabic people are no longer allowed. I’ve been hit by a car. My sister got hit in the face at school and lost two teeth, and now her vision is bad in one eye. Being a refugee is really hard. They blame us for everything. They blame us for no jobs. For crowded streets. For crime. They say that we are the reason for everything bad. And if war ever comes to Turkey, we’ll be the first to die. Because they’ll blame us for that too.” 

Well, for refugees, they take a bold decision of fleeing their homeland, hoping for a better future. They land in a new country and hope to restart their life. But with lack of education, the refugee kids will always be behind their counterparts. So many kids, who are forced to leave their homes, are keen to learn. They want to invest in their future but all they see is darkness ahead. 

The issue of educating the refugee children around the world is important and urgent. We must not forget that to take any country ahead, children need to be educated. They are the future, be it natives or refugees. 

If we do not invest in refugee education, we will have a generation that cannot live independently, cannot work to support a family and will have nothing to give back to their community. 

We need to give refugees a chance to grow, we need to make them feel as one of our own. It is not their fault that their homeland couldn’t protect them, it is not a crime to hope for a better life, but it is definitely inhumane to not consider them a human. People around the world must come together to support the refugee situation everywhere. 

A refugee will always be thankful to the country that gave him a second chance and accepted him wholeheartedly. Let’s give them their right to receive education, let’s keep their hopes and dreams alive. 

Green Schools Green Future, led by environmentalist Nikole Bélanger, aims to bring in a new and progressive education system for today’s young generation. It believes that by teaching the youth environmentally-sustainable trades such as vertical farming, aquaponics, programming skills and new technologies like blockchain and AI, they can be empowered to have a stake in a better future. 

The green schools will not only help the environment at large but also have a positive impact on the kids displaced worldwide due to unfortunate situations. If you feel for these kids, if you feel you want to contribute in making their life better, you can do your part by making a donation to help us fund our project of building green schools. 

If you give to the project, you’ll be donating more than dollars. You’ll be sponsoring more than just green schools. You’ll be a patron of a brighter future. Your return on investment will not only be the satisfaction of making lives better, but you will be sponsoring the education of young people most affected by our carbon misuse. And those young people may thank you for it by becoming green leaders with solutions to heal a world that’s fallen out of balance. Think about it!

To make a donation, click here.

By Manali Arora

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