UN Summit: Education is Parents’ Number One Relief Request

At the United Nations (UN) Summit on Refugees and Migrants held in September of this year, it was revealed that when parents were asked how relief funding should be spent in the camps, it was not food, shelter or electricity that topped the list. The response instead was, “We need schools for our children.”

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Students at a tent school in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Earlier this month, Tent Schools International (TSI) sent out the results of the UN Summit, confirming that education is currently the most urgent need in refugee camps throughout Lebanon and the world. Half of refugee children are not in school, only 2% of humanitarian aid is ear-marked for schools in camps, and less than a quarter of that amount is actually raised.

Half of refugee children are not in school, only 2% of humanitarian aid is ear-marked for schools in camps, and less than a quarter of that amount is actually raised.

In some cases, parents stated that their children had been out of school for five years due to civil unrest in Syria.

“Education gives a sense of normalcy amid the chaos that has overtaken their young lives,” said Karen AbuZayd, advisor to the UN Summit. “The future of peace and reconstruction will depend on these children… If we can give refugees hope for education, then refugees will repay this investment.”

The investment made by Tent Schools International is both social and spiritual, and within the three schools raised by our partner organization* in Lebanon, the impact of that investment is already revealing itself.

A ROLE IN SOCIETY

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A Syrian boy in a refugee camp in Lebanon

“I like school, I enjoy it,” said one boy* attending a tent school in Bekaa Valley. “Two weeks ago, they celebrated my birthday. I’m getting taught mathematics and other interesting stuff. I’ve learned to be honest and not to lie, and this helps me, because I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.”

His mother* agrees that school has been a welcome change in her son’s life. “Every mother dreams and hopes the best for [her] children,” she said. “I would love for them to have a role in society where people respect them, and they respect others.”

Respect of others and themselves – if it weren’t for parents like this mother, Tent Schools International may not have taken the missional focus it did in 2015. It was the urging from refugee parents that inspired TSI, spurring us on toward providing schools for displaced families through strong, in-country partnerships.

“Maybe you will be teachers, maybe you will be doctors, maybe you will be lawyers, something like that,” she said. “Always I put that in their minds – when you go back home, don’t stop, continue, because one day you will be something.”

A tent-school teacher* described how she encourages her students not to lose hope. “Maybe you will be teachers, maybe you will be doctors, maybe you will be lawyers, something like that,” she said. “Always I put that in their minds – when you go back home, don’t stop, continue, because one day you will be something.”

There is another reason to hope. We may not be able to absorb the depth of the displacement disaster or fathom all of those affected, but there is One who can, and He knows them by name.

Together, we can meet the need for education in refugee camps. Learn more and give.

Emily Klooster for Tent Schools International
*Names withheld to protect our partners