The words “back to school” evoke a familiar image for those of living in the west. Students flip through summer reading lists in their heads, making sure they’ve at least skimmed some of the books. Parents let out a sigh of relief as the phone calls consisting of “Mom, I’m so bored” will come to a stop. Television commercials fill our screens peppy children, all buying the latest clothes and school supplies.
In many parts of the world, school has become this unavoidable task for children. Is it fair to continue to think this way? The phrase “back to school” extends far beyond the realms of commercials with dancing teenagers who slam lockers shut while wearing sparkly new backpacks. “Back to School” is a luxury; an opportunity not all of us have.
The now four year-old civil war in Syria has given birth to the largest refugee crisis of our time. An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes. More than 2.8 million of these refugees are children who have had to stop their schooling.
School has become a luxury that a large number of Syrians cannot afford. For refugees, many families cannot afford to have their children attend school, instead needing their children to be wage-earners, thus becoming laborers often working days longer than 12 hours for a minimal wage. For those still in Syria, the schools that children once attended have now been destroyed by barrel bombs and warfare. Others, still, are unable to enroll in schools because they have no access to them. This not only means they lag behind in their education but also paints a dim picture for their futures. Without school, children find themselves in a violent cycle of poverty.
Without the proper education, students are faced with very few options. Many Syrian boys, both in Syria and its neighboring countries, have become their families’ caretakers; they find themselves trapped in a cycle of exploitation in order to provide for them. The only other option they may have is to seek asylum in countries such as the U.S or elsewhere in Europe. However, visas are granted sparingly and the the journey is risky with ships sinking regularly while attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
For the girls, their options eventually boil down to marriage. Seen as a way to protect the girl and ensure that she is taken care of, parents will often resort to marrying their daughters off to those they believe can provide for them. This is not always the case, with many of the girls ending up in abusive marriages or divorced. Unfortunately, this results in a grim future for the girls and their future children.
At Karam Foundation, we strive to educate Syrian refugees through our Innovative Education programs. We create programs to aid Syrian students by developing relevant skills that will go a long way in repairing the trauma that they’ve experienced and help them build a future of which they are in control.
The latest campaign, #Innovate2Educate, is one such initiative. In addition to supporting Karam’s ‘Learn not Earn’ program, Innovate to Educate will go towards supporting Ta’alim an NGO dedicated to rebuilding schools in Syria. With the help of the Karam Foundation, Ta’alim has rebuilt 6 schools in Syria, with a total of 1,550 students enrolled.
Help support Karam Foundation’s programs and initiatives by participating in our latest campaign. Click here for more information.