The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by Katrien Alen, educational sciences student at the Catholic University of Leuven.
While in the western society, education is focusing on internationalization and the global war on talents, other areas in the world are still facing serious problems with their provision of education. When we take a look around the globe, we can see that education for all is not something that we can take for granted, even though it is a fundamental children’s right. Many children are still not going to school for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they face institutional barriers, have to help their families out at home, or aren’t allowed to access education, others are faced with wars, or had their houses and villages destroyed by natural disasters. These situations deprive children of the necessary education they need, and destroy their chances to reach their goals and dreams for the future.

The refugee flee is, today, a topic on the policy agenda of a lot of countries and international organizations, nevertheless, these countries and organizations place the topic mostly on their political and economical policy agenda. Which means, that the refugee problem is not explicitly mentioned in their educational policy agenda. By not placing it on the educational policy agenda, we are risking that education for refugee children will be forgotten, by focusing primarily on humanitarian care, food and water provision, healthcare, etc. But children in war zones need continued education for many reasons. These reasons are not only individual, but also social and maybe even economical. After all, emergency/refugee education does not only provide continuation in the learning processes of these children, it can also serve as a buffer for some psychological and social difficulties these children are facing. By getting education, children get a chance to process everything that is going on, and they can get away from the stress and anxiety which they are surrounded with. Furthermore, providing education for these children also means that they are given a perspective on their future. By keeping education going for these children, they get a chance to work on their future, to invest in themselves despite everything they have been going through and are still going through. Thanks to education, children get the opportunity to go on with their lives as much as possible. It gives them a kind of stability to hold on to, and a possibility to dream of a better future. After all, they will become employees or employers in the global economic market, some of them might even become doctors, lawyers or engineers. If we want these children to be able to reach their full potential, we cannot deprive them from something as essential as education. We don’t want these children to become a lost generation, therefore we will need to give specific attention to their education, and therefore their future.

In the future, these children will have an important role to play in our world. Therefore I would like to stress that education for these children is a matter of concern for all countries around the globe, and not just for the countries nearby the conflict zones, who are taking in the refugees. Lebanon for instance, provides an example of how we can provide education for children who fled their countries. Nevertheless, we cannot leave this issue as something that those countries have to deal with alone. It’s a matter of public concern, a humanitarian concern. After all, globalization reduces the distance between different parts of the world, events and actions taken in one continent, will have an influence on what happens in another one. This is not different for the topic in this opinion paper, take the war in Syria as an example, which caused a major refugee stream to come to Europe, forcing European countries to act. That’s why this educational problem should not only be recognized by the policy makers of surrounding countries, but also by other countries and international organizations in the world. There is need for more international support in order to face this problem effectively. After all emergency education isn’t an easy job to accomplish. There are a lot of influencing factors that we need to take into account if we want to bring the best possible education to these children. Think for example about the over crowdedness that many refugee camps are facing, the losses these people have faced, and the specific psychological difficulties these children are facing due to what they’ve been through. Indeed, providing decent emergency education is a difficult task, but it is something worth investing in. Certainly if we want to provide education for all.

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