During back-to-school season in many parts of the world, girls are buying their text books, going back to sports practices and seeing their friends—all in anticipation of the school year ahead. But what if school wasn’t an option?
There are 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide today – the highest number ever recorded. Half of refugees are under the age of 18. And as the average length of a prolonged refugee crisis is about 26 years, too many of these young people will spend much of their youth away from their homes. Twenty-six years: That’s more years than our Girl Up leaders have been alive! For many young refugees, time away from home also means time out of school.
We have reached a 90% enrollment rate for primary school worldwide – that’s good news! The bad news is, that number drops significantly for refugees. Only 50% of refugee children are enrolled in primary school, and only 25% of refugee adolescents are enrolled in secondary school.
Over the past six years, I’ve seen Girl Up Clubs work tirelessly to help girls around the world get the education they deserve—by fundraising for bicycles, backpacks and other important resources that help girls get to and stay in school. At Girl Up, we know our advocacy is just as powerful as our fundraising dollars in making a difference. We believe the U.S. government should work to ensure all children have access to education, just like our club leaders have been doing.
Thanks to the hard work of Girl Up leaders around the world, the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act was passed!
We know refugee students often have no schools nearby to attend, and schools that accept refugees struggle with a lack of learning materials, overcrowded classes and language barriers. And we also know that refugee girls are especially vulnerable to early marriage, human trafficking and child labor.