11.12.2013 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Exploring an education response to the Syrian refugee crisis

Within the framework of the concerns of the United Nations to support countries hosting Syrian refugees in the provision of quality education services, UNESCO, and UNHCR organized a regional conference in Beirut 11-12 Dec. 2013, to provide a platform for informed, in-depth discussion on the challenges faced by refugees and host countries in the field of education.

The aim was to exchange experiences on policies, programmes, resource mobilization and research and to generate common areas for further work within the region as well as recommendations for policy makers, implementers and donors.

In a televised video message, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova addressed the conference and said that education must be built into peace-building– not attached to it – as it is the bridge to longer-term development. She added that donors and stakeholders must support Education in this humanitarian setting and look beyond the short term response. "We must develop an inclusive approach to support refugees and to build resilience for host communities". She also added that quality education for all is a right, not a privilege. "For this we must act as one. Syrian children and parents want to see results and host countries want to see their tremendous efforts accompanied by donors and technical partners. I trust that together we can meet this challenge.”  

The conference included high-level attendees to help draw attention to the effects the Syrian refugee crisis has had on children and youth education. It brought together technical experts who are actively engaged in responding to the refugee crisis and its effects on education, as well as some global education experts. This conference is a first step in regional dialogue on this issue and does not aim to provide all the answers, but rather to look at questions and gaps on the current status of education delivery for refugees in the host countries and to help clarify additional data and analysis requirements country by country, generate tangible recommendations (e.g., future research, technical systems to collate data or share good practices, etc.) and outline resourcing requirements.

The second conference planned for April 2014 will benefit from the information, resources and coordination approaches generated by the first conference and will help move dialogue further towards addressing existing gaps in assessment, research, and implementation strategies. 

The conference was held in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), CfBT Education Trust, American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Inter Agency Network for Emergency Education (INEE). 

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