Gordon Brown: A little learning could provide an awful lot of help

We need a coordinated response to this unprecedented crisis

Share
Related Topics

It is an established principle that in times of war, thanks to the work of organisations such as the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières, those displaced receive the essentials for survival – with children always the first priority.

But in observing the crisis engulfing the people of Syria I am struck by a persistent omission in our humanitarian response to such situations: the failure to deliver the schooling that will prevent a generation of children losing their future.

Today in New York, an emergency coalition of young people, backed by global education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, will demand for the first time that refugee children not only have the right to food, shelter and healthcare but the right to continue their learning - and thus recover a childhood that risks being lost.

Already a million dollars has been raised by the public, via the brilliant Avaaz.org, in just a few days. Western Union too is helping the public to donate. But today our special coalition will challenge world leaders to act as well – and to establish a parallel principle that, from now on, education is, alongside healthcare, taken as an inviolable right that must be delivered, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

The disarmingly simple plan, developed by Kevin Watkins for the education campaign A World at School, could see schooling provided for 300,000 Syrian children exiled in Lebanon – within a matter of weeks.

To achieve this, we need the international community to show a coordinated response to this unprecedented crisis, and following the rallying call of our coalition, key donors and delivery agencies will meet today to discuss the way forward.

As well as the skills and knowledge essential for becoming a happy, healthy and productive citizen, schooling brings a sense of normality and routine to an otherwise disrupted life. And what’s more – as in our plan for Syrian refugees in Lebanon – it also provides the structures through which hot, nutritious meals can be delivered.

If we are successful, we will never again be able to stand aside as children affected by conflict lose out on the education they need, as 28 million currently do. We will have shown that, much like Doctors Without Borders, Education Without Borders can ensure that generations don’t lose out, and that when the fighting begins, learning doesn’t have to stop.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Patrick Cockburn: Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on