Private sector commits $75 million to educate one million Syrian children

Education funding

Syrian refugees at school in Bekaa Valley Picture: Adam Petterson/Panos/DFID

New commitments and partnerships from the private sector to help support one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey get an education this year have been announced.

The details were revealed by Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education), during the Supporting Syria and the Region pledging conference in London today.

GBC-Education convened private sector partners from around the world alongside the conference hosts, UN agencies and key donors at a special education side event.

Building on the momentum and the success of GBC-Education’s announcement of more than $50 million at the World Economic Forum in Davos two weeks ago, more companies and partners have come forward to offer their support. This takes the total commitment and partnerships to $75 million.

The programmes include a widening range of support, including educational content, digital delivery, skills for employability and teacher training.

Sarah said: “The challenge of getting one million Syrian children in school this year requires urgent and innovative support from all sectors – and the business community has a unique role in tackling some of the barriers stopping children getting a quality education.”

The companies involved will respond to specific obstacles identified by governments in the region to provide education for all.

They will draw not only on finance but also on the creativity, innovation and networks of the private sector — all determined to ensure that a generation of Syrian children is not lost.

Tom Fletcher, Director of Global Strategy for GBC-Education, said: “The momentum and support is building. Businesses want to use whatever is at their disposal to support this effort and if we don’t get children in school, we risk seeing a generation of Syrian children without a quality education.

“For the first time, they will work as part of a joint effort, reducing potential duplication and building unprecedented and innovative partnerships. The negative long-term implications of not educating these children is huge.”


Syrian and Lebanese students sit together in classes at a mixed elementary school in Beirut Picture: Adam Patterson/Panos/DFID

It was also announced at the conference that Alex Asseily, the founder of Jawbone, and Tom Fletcher will lead an initiative to further harness the ingenuity of the technology sector, with support from major leaders in the sector.

The initiative will report to the International Commission on Financing Global Education in 2016.

Contribution examples

 GBC-Education member companies are taking a leading role in these partnership efforts, demonstrating the strength of collaboration:

  • Discovery Communications with Discovery Learning Alliance and sQuid will work with other partners to allow for improved attendance monitoring, delivery of appropriate learning content, and tracking of progress of students as they learn
  • Vitol Foundation is partnering with Bridge International Academies and McKinsey & Company to jointly develop a low-cost, high-quality education model for Syrian refugees at scale. McKinsey & Company is also offering support and advice to DFID, the international community and the public sector in Lebanon on the non-formal education system framework for Syrian refugees
  • Pearson emphasises its support to address the crisis through its Every Child Learning partnership with Save the Children over three years, aiming to increase educational opportunities for Syrian refugees and host communities
  • ITWORX Education via the EuroMENA Fund is working with other companies, such as Global Learning, to provide technological solutions for education for those who cannot be immediately accommodated in formal schools

Support from GBC-Education members RELX Group and NRS International; institutions of higher education Kiron University and New York University; NGOs Jusoor, Rumie and Thaki; as well as media company Big Bad Boo, publishing company Scholastic and engineering company Arup.

Foundations and funds such as the Breteau Foundation, Ikea Foundation, Makhzoumi Foundation, and the Speed School Fund have also pledged support.

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