Without a teacher or a classroom, a girl or a boy has little hope of a bright future.
The double-shift school system -- where one group is taught in the morning and a second in the afternoon -- has helped hundreds of thousands of refugee children to start dreaming again -- of being an engineer, or a teacher or a doctor -- anything, in fact, except a future as an unemployed refugee of no fixed abode.
In a short space of time, double-shift schools are increasingly becoming the standard for accommodating the large influx of Syrian refugee children across the Middle East region.
As families settle in to new accommodation after fleeing the horrors of their homeland they want to plan and to build a new life -- as wary as they are of their new surroundings and however tentative it may feel. And a critical part of rebuilding their future is creating a stable routine through education. Parents continually express their desperate wish for their children to resume the familiarity of "the school run."
In September, 2013, Kevin Watkins' ground-breaking report -- published by Theirworld -- proposed a system, used occasionally to address overcrowding, as a nation-by-nation roll-out to address the rising influx of refugee children, particularly across the Middle East.
Now embraced by Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, schools are making themselves fit for purpose for several shifts. But although we can now demonstrate the plan works we must focus on getting funding in place and delivered to allow EVERY Syrian refugee child into school... and urgently.
The joy of returning to a classroom also brings with it the next level of tricky, but usually solvable challenges. We must now think about how to ensure safe school journeys, how to provide a nutritious daily meal or snack, how to overcome language barriers and how to teach new skills sets such as coding and use of technology.
Even small things are important, such as how to fit in two sets of school pegs or lockers, or how to cope with a crowded playground at the changeover time, because these logistical issues can smooth the way for a productive school day.
To address the Syrian refugee crisis, the roll out of double-shift schools has rapidly become part of the education landscape. The political will has been met by local host governments and donors and welcomed by teachers, parents and children but where are we as we approach the World Bank Spring meetings this month?
This is a time when finance ministers gather in one place -- literally the perfect moment to examine future funding streams.
Last September, the new school term saw 200,000 Syrian refugee children return to school as a result of the double-shift system. This was a huge turning point and confidence was raised to call on wider international funding to complement the great investment that the Lebanese, Jordanian and Turkish governments are putting in.
As easy as it is for any of us to pass judgement on governments, it is quietly impressive how the countries surrounding Syria have offered haven and hospitality to the arrival of so many desperate children. In Turkey 29 per cent of Syrian children are already at school and the EU funds announced by Commissioner Stylianides in his humanitarian aid package last week means that there is absolutely the opportunity to complete the job.
In Jordan, the local population has a long history of hosting refugees from Palestine and Iraq and 350,000 children from Syria are now an added responsibility. This increases the pressure on everyone but work IS underway to address schooling in the big camps and towns.
And Lebanon has shown great innovation and enterprise expanding double-shift schools as part of the national education strategy which focuses on Lebanese and Syrians entering the classroom together as far as possible.
NGOs are constantly collaborating on programmes to bring good nutrition to students and providing them with the best start to the day's learning. In addition tech hubs, such as the Theirworld Tech Club at Mtein School, has opened up a wider world of possibilities to pupils, girls and boys alike. Looking at the appetite for learning and enthusiasm of the children, I would not bet against the next generation of tech innovators emerging from this part of the world.
The target is now set for 1 million children to go back in the next school year, and there is no reason why this should not happen.
The Syrian Pledging conference in London put $250 million on the table from donor promises and a new package of $75 million from the private sector was gathered by the Global Business Coalition for Education. Other philanthropic groups are now assembling further public-private sector partnership commitments and this may become the next popular "top up" for meeting the full challenge.
It is vital for donor governments and philanthropists to act and make good on promises but enough people are now watching to ensure those who duck away from prompt delivery will not be able to avoid awkward questions.
The funding gap would now seem to be around $500 million with one-third of funding already in place. Meetings in Washington, D.C. and the forthcoming World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey will provide platforms to meet the target.
The delivery gap is -- of course -- one step behind as promised funding needs to become available and, in addition, the various physical and social barriers must be addressed and new systems set up that meet children's needs. But on the ground the opportunity exists to get this right -- the various systems need to keep moving to bring everything down the track.
Whatever the hurdles, there is every reason to be positive about the funding, the politicians' promises and the teachers' commitment over the coming months. And if it slows or fails to happen in full, there is a mighty force of young education campaigners who are watching.
They are together. They are noisy.
Through A World at School and many committed NGOs, you will not fail to hear the disappointment on behalf of the children of Syria if their need to learn for a brighter future is not met.
Grown-ups in charge, you have been warned.