World Leaders #SupportSyrians, Pledge $11 Billion

Photo By ©Anthony Achkar.

Key Donors Mobilize Education Financing

“World leaders have made new pledges and the future of the region depends on this promise being delivered in very tough circumstances,” said Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of GBC-Education, during the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London on February 4. “The focus now is whether one million Syrian girls and boys walk through the school gates in the coming academic year and receive a quality education.”

During the one-day conference, world leaders announced new pledges to get more than one million Syrian refugee children in school in the coming academic year and to improve access to learning for children in Syria itself. GBC-Education supported donor country pledges by mobilizing the private sector — including members Discovery Communications with Discovery Learning Alliance, ITWORX Education, NRS International, Pearson, RELX Group, and Vitol Foundation — to contribute $75 million through partnerships that leverage financing and key assets such as technology, curricula, and infrastructure.

The conference opened with remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon whose speech was followed by announcements of increased financial commitments to the region from key donor countries by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Making The Case For Education

A panel dedicated to the case for scaling up commitments to education kicked off the event and was followed by plenary sessions on jobs and economic development, humanitarian cause, and the role that both NGOs and the private sector can play to better aid the region.

“Let’s be honest: People in [the Middle East] region want security, justice, and opportunity,” said Tunisian Minister of Tourism and Secretary-General of think-tank Maghreb Economic Forum Dr. Amel Karboul during an all-women panel on the importance of education. “Security has very much been a priority of this dialogue; justice, it’s talked about here and there — but opportunity? It’s been very much a lower priority.”

She also emphasized the role business can play in the “totally new conversation” among the international community, spotlighting a new initiative led by GBC-Education Director of Global Strategy Tom Fletcher and Jawbone Founder Alex Asseily.

With support from the Global Business Coalition for Education, we are able to announce support for the education of Syrian refugee children through $75 million,” she said, highlighting the creative and disruptive role technology can play in delivering education to marginalized children.

Lebanese Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, who was himself once a refugee, thanked the international community for giving hope for a future to the 1.3 million Syrian refugee children in the region.

“I understand the importance of giving education to the children. [. . .] I made it to London for my higher education,” the Education Minister said. “And today here I am, in charge of a file that will allow 450,000 children in Lebanon to go into education.”

During his powerful speech, Minister Elias Bou Saab told the tragic story of Mohammed, a Syrian refugee child who died while in school in Lebanon. He shared that the seven-year-old boy’s father was thankful that his son was able to access education before passing away.

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Watch the conference from start to finish: