An event in London hosted by Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR, the United Nations (UN) refugee agency, has highlighted the importance of education for refugees and the need to increase development investment in this area.
The event showcased the Instant Network Schools (INS) which were first set up by Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR in 2013. There are now 93 INS in six countries. At the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019, the partners pledged to improve learning outcomes for 510,000 refugee and host community children in up to 300 INS by 2025.
The Connected Education event included a host of high profile speakers including:
Margherita Della Valle, CEO, Vodafone;
Joakim Reiter, Chief External and Corporate Affairs Officer, Vodafone Group and Trustee of Vodafone Foundation;
Raouf Mazou, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, UNHCR;
Tomas Lamanauskas, Deputy Secretary General, International Telecommunication Union;
Nhial Deng, Instant Network Schools alumni and 2023 winner of Chegg.org Global Student Prize;
Dr. Hanan Hamdan, UNHCR Representative to Egypt and to the League of Arab States;
Lisa Felton, Director of the Vodafone Foundation;
Thomas Fiechter, Managing Director, Akelius Languages;
Emi Mahmoud, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, poet, and activist; and
Gail Gallie, co-Founder of Project Everyone and founder of Project 17.
The speakers highlighted that the population of more than 110 million forcibly displaced people in the world has doubled in the last decade, including the largest ever year-on-year increase between 2021-2022.
Education is critically underfunded in countries that are hosting refugees and UNHCR has appealed for funding in this area as part of its 2024 global appeal.76% of all refugees are hosted in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Only an estimated 0.5% of global education spending is in less developed nations, and World Bank research indicates that education spending in low-income and LMICs is declining, in contrast to the trend in richer nations.
Margherita Della Valle said: “Of the approximately 110 million refugees at a global level, almost half of these are children and nearly half of those refugee children either remain out of school or have inconsistent access to education which varies in quality. We are proud of our work to date with INS and hope for the future where education is accessible to all, leaving no one behind.”
Photo courtesy of Ahmed Ashkor
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