A catastrophic by-product of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East is a lost generation of unschooled children. These children find themselves, through no fault of their own, not only displaced but lacking the opportunity for proper schooling and thus, denied a chance to learn and develop the necessary skills to become fully functional members of society. This lost generation is the tragedy of our time.
According to a 2015 report by UNICEF, conflict in the Middle East and North Africa region has driven 13 million children out of schools.
Unschooled children are not only a moral challenge, but also one that has negative short-term and long-term consequences both for the refugees, but also for their societies.
Besides providing an education, schools serve an important function by socializing children. In addition, children in conflict zones face severe trauma through the loss of family members to violence.
The lack of education, coupled with a sense of despair and hopelessness creates the perfect conditions for the radicalization of refugee children. Children tired of working long hours in sweatshops for little pay tend to find the offer to fight at a salary of $400 a month particularly enticing.
Jordan and Turkey have absorbed an estimated 200,000 and 300,000 children respectively in their schooling system, which has put an incredible strain on their existing educational infrastructure.