More than half of the world’s refugees are under the age of 18. Without access to education, an entire generation's future is at risk.
Education is the ultimate tool of empowerment, and is especially important for young people. This is particularly true for refugee youth. The returns on investing in refugee education are far-reaching. Quality education and a safe place to learn help refugee children prepare for the future and recover from the effects of trauma. Access to school also reduces the chances for exploitive and dangerous child labor and the number of early marriages for girls.
Sadly, 40 percent of refugee children have no access to elementary education. And for refugee girls, many will complete just a few years of formal school.
"I want to be the girl that made it from the camp to campus, and from a refugee to a neurosurgeon."
– Esther, a young refugee from South Sudan.
Esther is working to beat the odds through education. Only one percent of refugee children achieve more than a high school education. She recognizes the long road ahead, but is resolute.
In 2016, with USA for UNHCR donor support, UNHCR helped 984,000 refugee children enroll in primary school through its partnership with the Educate a Child program , including more than 250,000 children who were previously not in school. Another 42,000 refugees participated in accelerated learning programs.
UNHCR also helps refugees go to college. More than 4,000 refugee students received an Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative scholarship (DAFI) (link to blog post) to study at universities in 38 countries. An additional 1,500 refugee students enrolled in “connected learning” programs that combine face-to-face learning with online classes.