January 26, 2017

UN envoy Gordon Brown tells inquiry of broken promise to get all Syrian refugee children in school

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

The UN Special Envoy for Global Education told a committee of the British parliament that countries had to make good on their pledge to get every Syrian child into school in their host communities.

United Nations education envoy Gordon Brown has warned that broken promises and a lack of funding is denying millions of refugee and displaced children an education.

He told an inquiry at the British parliament today that half of all Syrian refugee children are still out of school a year after world leaders pledged to get them into classrooms.

Brown - who is UN Special Envoy for Global Education and chair of the Education Commission - said in a statement: “We have to ask what kind of world it is when we do least for those children who are most vulnerable and most in need…the girls and boys out of sight, out of mind, out of school and out of hope."

Gordon Brown gives evidence to the UK Parliament committee on DfID's work on education

Parliamentlive.tv

He gave evidence to an ongoing inquiry by the International Development Committee into the work on education by the UK's Department for International Development (DfID).

The former British prime minister echoed many of the points made in a Theirworld investigation published yesterday

We found a complete lack of a clear and coherent overview of how the promise to get all refugee children and vulnerable children in the host communities into school in the 2016-17 academic year is progressing.

With just six months left until that deadline, Theirworld's #YouPromised campaign has been calling on leaders to honour their pledge. It was made on February 4 last year at the Supporting Syria And The Region conference in London - co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the UN.

Brown told the inquiry: “We’re still one million kids short. We’re still $1 billion short. The UK has made good on its promises - it’s time other countries make good on theirs.”

He also said: “By 2030, there will be 800 million children - half the children in the world - who will not finish school with any qualifications whatsoever. That is indeed a crisis that has got to be dealt with.”

He said global education has been consistently underfunded and that the governments of developing countries had to do more to improve education and invest in their children's future.

Half of all Syrian refugee children are not in a classroom

Theirworld/Tabitha Ross

The international community has a duty to step in to help those countries who cannot meet their targets, he added.

Brown argued that at least 15% of humanitarian aid should go towards education - it's currently less than 2% each year. 

The inquiry, held at the House of Commons, has been hearing evidence on DfID's work in helping to deliver a quality education for all children, including getting the most marginalised into school. Earlier this month, it heard from Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save The Children UK.

Syrian refugee children in and out of school

At the end of 2016, there were 1.6 million registered Syrian refugees of school age in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

  • TURKEY: 491,896 in school, 380,000 out of school, 871,896 total (ages 6-18)
  • LEBANON: 200,000 in school, 277,034 out of school, 477,034 total (ages 3-17)
  • JORDAN: 170,000 in school, 91,000 out of school, 261,000 total
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