Syria currently has one of lowest education rates in the world, a consequence of the civil war that could prolong the crisis even further.
According to a new Save the Children report, 2.8 million Syrian children are out of school both inside the war zone and in refugee camps. But missing out on learning isn’t just depriving this generation of future career opportunities -- it could also lead this group to get directly involved in the conflict and perpetuate the war.
Economists agree that every additional year of education increases a person’s earning potential by 10 percent, according to the report. This is considerably critical in Syria right now where rebel groups are able to recruit soldiers who have no other opportunities and nowhere else to turn.
And while increasing secondary school enrollment is particularly helpful to keeping young males from getting involved in battle, improving education opportunities on any level could “considerably” reduce this figure, a 2010 University of Oslo report concluded.
Education creates monetary opportunities and has proven to have a pacifying effect on society.
Syria’s postwar economy could lose as much as 5.4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) due to the loss of future earnings of kids who were deprived of education, according to Save the Children. That’s about $2.18 billion.
“Education has also been argued to promote social cohesion, such as learning how to work together peacefully, which in turn enables socioeconomic stability,” the authors of the Oslo University study wrote.
While Save the Children has established an effective education model in Syria, it’s only reaching 2 percent of kids who are out of school due to chronic underfunding and security issues.
To improve those figures, the aid organization has outlined an action plan, which includes holding the parties responsible for breaching international law.
At least 160 children were killed in attacks on schools in Syria last year, according to UNICEF. Such violence has cost $3 billion in damage to school buildings alone, according to Save the Children.
To expand learning opportunities for refugee children and those still living inside the war zone, the aid group has called on donors to recognize that education is a priority that could help facilitate the war’s end.
It also recommended that No Lost Generation -- a U.N. conglomerate that partnered with NGOs and regional governments -- update its strategy. The initiative requires a comprehensive education and protection plan for children and funding commitment from the U.N.
“Giving the vast majority of Syrian children the opportunity to learn is an achievable aim,” Save the Children said in its report. While the underlying cause of the crisis in education –- namely the ongoing war –- remains unresolved, there is nonetheless considerably more that the international community should be doing to ensure that the right of Syria’s children to education is prioritized and fully funded.”