Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. Photo © Russell Watkins / DFID
World Humanitarian Day takes place every year on August 19 to show support for aid workers and civilians who face the threat of daily violence in conflict zones. One of the most vulnerable groups in crisis tend to be children – especially girls – who lose out on an education due to unsafe learning environments, conscription as child soldiers, sexual violence and abuse, child marriage, and poverty exacerbated by the surrounding emergency.
27 million children are out of school in conflict zones. These are children who have the potential to rebuild their communities and create a better future for themselves and their families, yet find their educational opportunity stunted by violence and displacement. An uneducated youth population is detrimental toward society-at-large, especially toward sustaining a thriving and healthy economy. In Syria alone, there are 1.7 million children who are not in school, leading to $11 billion dollars in economic losses for the country.
For the business community, having a skill-based workforce – especially in areas that have suffered from crisis and emergencies – is essential to creating growth and helping people emerge out of vicious cycles of poverty. On World Humanitarian Day, the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) recognizes the value and potential of the business community to transform the lives of children and youth caught in conflict.
Since its establishment in 2016 – in support of the Education Cannot Wait fund – GBC-Education’s Rapid Education Action (REACT) initiative has emerged as a tool for business to offer their innovative solutions to on-the-ground, humanitarian actors in emergency settings. In April of 2018, the REACT digital platform went live, allowing the private sector to register their talents and resources that would be matched real-time to the needs of implementation partners. The REACT platform has thus created a clear entry point for businesses who want to engage in Education in Emergencies.
REACT is already delivering results for children and youth; the initiative brought together NaTakallam – a US-based language company – with RE:Coded to teach coding skills to young Syrians and Iraqis. In addition, REACT facilitated the partnership between Cerego with the Thaki charity to deliver education to out-of-school children in Lebanon. As seen by these partnerships, businesses that participate in REACT can create real and substantial change for hundreds and thousands of students who want to learn, who want to work, and who want to dream.
World Humanitarian Day takes place on April 19; use the hashtag #NotATarget to participate in the conversation on social media. To learn more about the REACT initiative, follow the link here or contact Jake Cho at firstname.lastname@example.org.