Education gives hope to Syrian children says Sarah Brown at honorary degree ceremony

Sarah Brown delivers her speech at Brighton University

Education can give hope to the millions of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries that one day they can return to their homeland.

That was the message from Sarah Brown when she received an honorary degree for her campaigning on global education and health care.

The President of Theirworld – the parent charity of A World at School – said the war in Syria is posing one of the greatest educational challenges of the 21st century.

Accepting a Doctor of Letters from England’s University of Brighton, Sarah added: “To stay in the region, and particularly in Syria’s neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, they need hope that there is opportunity and a future – hope that they can one day return to their country. Education can give them that hope.

“We try to find ways that children can go to school in those countries, starting with a double-shift system where local children are able to go to school in the morning and when they go home the Syrian children can use the same classroom.

“It has been successful in Lebanon. Now we are hopeful that the scheme can be rolled out further afield and a million refugee children will have a school to go to.”

Sarah – also co-founder of A World at School and Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education – said she was confident that governments across the world and businesses would create the funding to make this happen.

Professor Chris Pole, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor, paid tribute to Sarah, saying: “Her dedication, hard work and commitment to health care and youth education has earned her respect and admiration throughout the country and indeed the world.

Sarah receives her honorary degree from John Harley, chair of Brighton University’s board of governors

“It is not an overstatement to describe Sarah and her organisation that she has founded and led so successfully a beacon of hope for children around the world, a passionate crusader for children’s rights to education and a global force for good.”

Here are some other education campaigners who have received honorary degreees…

Malala Yousafzai was awarded a Master of Arts degree by Edinburgh University in Scotland in 2013. 

The honour was “in recognition of her efforts to improve educational opportunities for children around the world”.

Dr Eric Kuan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration in 2015 from the University of Sunderland in England in recognition of his outstanding work providing lifelong learning opportunities to the people of Singapore.

As President of the Management Development Institute Singapore, he has worked in collaboration with universities throughout the world, providing high-quality education programmes to students from 82 countries.

Dr Betty Chan Po-king, Director of Yew Chung International School, has been given honorary degrees by three universities on three continents – the University of Illinois in the United States, the Hong Kong Institute of Education and the University of Bath in England, the last one in 2015.

She was recognised for her pioneering work in early childhood education and her consistent advocacy for excellence in all levels of global education.

Dr Shawn Chen received an honorary doctorate from Danubius University in Galați, Romania. It was in recognition of his significant contributions to global education and “giving thousands of students access to a quality American education that transcended generational and international borders”.

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