Malala Pushes For Education For Syrian Refugee Children

Photo: Getty
The heartbreaking Syrian refugee crisis is keeping an estimated 700,000 children out of the classroom.

Malala Yousafzai wants to change that. The Nobel Laureate is calling on world leaders to commit $1.4 billion to help educate displaced Syrian refugees, Reuters reports. If nothing is done, they risk becoming a "lost generation," Yousafzai said, according to the BBC.

Reports from the Malala Fund — an organization set up by Yousafzai to help secure girls' rights to education — claim that the 700,000 children living in refugee camps across Jordan, Lebanon and in other Middle Eastern countries are receiving no education.

Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in an October 2012 assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen, has made it her mission to campaign for children’s educational rights across the world.

Yousafzai is expected to make her appeal at a Syrian Donors conference in London. Reuters states that Thursday’s conference will be co-hosted by the UN and governments from Germany, Norway, and Kuwait. Yousafzai will speak alongside 17-year-old Syrian girl Muzoon Almellehan, who is now enrolled in education in the U.K.

"I have met so many Syrian refugee children; they are still in my mind. I can't forget them," Yousafzai told the press. "The thought that they won't be able to go to school in their whole life is completely shocking and I cannot accept it.”

"I'm hoping to encourage and inspire world leaders to take action. I'm not going to wait. We can't wait. It needs to happen," she continued.

In a blog post on the Malala Fund website, Almellehan describes her meeting with Yousafzai. They met at a refugee camp in Jordan, where Almellehan was living with her family after fleeing Syria. She also recalls her own experiences with education there.

"I was happy to continue my studies while living in the camps — but I saw that other girls were not attending classes," she writes. "Many were being married off too young, because their parents hoped that having a husband would protect them."

"I did not agree with this, so I began to walk from family to family, telling parents that education is the best protection for their daughters — and asking girls to raise their voices and join me in the fight for our rights."

According to a report by the Malala Fund, donors have so far provided only 37% of the funding that is needed for schools and teachers in the Middle East, the BBC notes. That means that there is a long way to go to make up the deficit.

Yousafzai’s statements follow news last week that a 13-year-old Afghan refugee boy had penned British Prime Minister David Cameron a letter from the Calais, France, camp for refugees and migrants. Quoted in the Independent, it read: “Because my school was bombed I could not go to class to learn. This was very difficult, because I love learning. My favourite lessons were English and maths. I came first in nearly all of my classes... It's my dream to continue my education.”
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