June 3, 2016 — One in four of the world’s school-age children now live in countries affected by crisis, and 75 million have had their education disrupted or are out of school entirely. These are just some of the startling facts cited by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in a new report urging the prioritization of access to schools and a quality education for all displaced children and youth.
“Providing Hope, Investing in the Future: Education in Emergencies & Protracted Crises,” authored by Giulia McPherson, assistant policy director at JRS/USA, says that education is a life-saving intervention that helps forcibly displaced children and adolescents heal from trauma and learn skills to build their futures.
“This report highlights the need to prioritize education for refugees and those displaced by conflict and crisis and ensure that these important programs receive the resources and political support they deserve,” McPherson said.
|Jesuit Refugee Service International Director, Father Thomas H. Smolich, SJ, speaks at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: Giulia McPherson/Jesuit Refugee Service)|
“Given that the average length of displacement for a refugee is 17 years, it is impractical to consider emergency assistance and long-term development as separate endeavors,” the report said. If all children were to leave school with the ability to read, the report claimed there would be a 12 percent decrease in global poverty levels.
"The argument we make is that education is certainly a life-saving intervention in addition to water, food and shelter," McPherson said. "Education should be offered to refugees at the very start of an emergency as well as in protracted crises because of the benefits it provides, not just in and of itself, but for healing trauma and returning a sense of normalcy to children."
McPherson and Jesuit Refugee Service International Director Father Thomas H. Smolich, SJ, attended the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23, where Fr. Smolich spoke on a panel about the report.
“As human beings, we are often at the mercy of war, of nature, of governments — of forces beyond our control. For this reason, nearly 60 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes, constantly moving. But for people living in motion, those who cannot take possessions can bring knowledge and change their world,” Fr. Smolich said. [Sources: Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Catholic News Service]