Malala’s Warning to World: Educate Syrian Kids or Face a ‘Lost Generation’

The education activist is asking leaders to commit $1.4 billion to the schooling of refugee children.

Malala Yousafzai. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Jan 29, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

She’s called for world leaders to slash military spending and use the savings to fully fund K–12 education around the world. Now 18-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner and education activist Malala Yousafzai wants the most powerful people on Earth to commit $1.4 billion to educate Syrian children who have been displaced because of civil war.

“It’s time for the world to match their commitment to get every Syrian child back in school,” Yousafzai wrote on Thursday in an email to BBC News. According to an upcoming report from the Malala Fund, half of the nearly 4 million Syrian kids who have been driven from their homeland are not in school. The activist cautioned in her email that these disenfranchised kids are in danger of becoming a “lost generation.” (Disclosure: The film He Named Me Malala was produced in part by TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media.)

RELATED: How Your Used Clothes Can Help Malala Change Girls’ Lives

Yousafzai’s comments come one week after she teamed up with U.K.-based activist Muzoon Almellehan to launch a petition asking President Barack Obama to pressure other leaders to make financial commitments at an upcoming conference about the Syrian crisis.

“If this commitment is not made and more money provided this year, we will only be able to educate one in five Syrian children whose education has been affected by the conflict. This is not good enough. Every child has a right to education, in war and in peace,” reads the petition.

In the past year, the Malala Fund provided more than $1 million in aid to Syrian refugees. According to the nonprofit, the $1.4 billion being asked of world leaders will help cover a shortfall in donations from international agencies and governments for the education of Syrian children.

RELATED: Not Just Syria: Interactive Map Shows Displacement Owing to War Is the Norm

But as a post on Medium from UNICEF on Wednesday reveals, thanks to global emergencies such as war and natural disasters, millions more kids worldwide are being deprived of an education. “Nearly 250 million of them are affected by conflict and millions more face risks from natural hazards and fast-spreading epidemics,” the post reads.

Nearly 112,000 people have signed the petition, which goes on to state that children are “the greatest hope for Syria’s future, and we must make sure the world invests in that hope through education.”