5 MORE Reasons Displaced and Refugee Children Need Schools

by Lúgh ó Braonáin

"In the devastating context of global conflict and displacement, education gives hope to refugee children and youth to envision and build a secure future." -António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Every society cherishes its children and tries to ensure that they are educated well. This provides them with the skills they need to function as adults, but also it teaches them about the rich cultural heritage that the community possesses.

However, for children who are displaced by conflict and natural disaster, there are additional reasons for us to think that education is essential. They are the reasons that, like many other humanitarian agencies, we strive to provide education in these circumstances.

6. Psychological Services

In every situation of displacement, there are social and personal traumas to be overcome. Conflict or natural disasters are frightening for children as well as adults and can leave lasting psychological scars. The school is an environment where these traumas can be addressed. Teachers can help with those who are less affected and can identify those in special need of counseling. They are also excellent spokespeople for their students and can point those children suffering the most towards any psychological supports that are available or encourage the Aid Agencies to make those services available where they are lacking.

7. Access to Healthy Food

Just as with other supports systems, the school is often (though not always) place where children can be given food additional to that provided by the family.

8. Enables Parents to Look for Work

Parents are in a catch 22 situation when caring for their children in a displacement situation: their children need to be provided for with food, clothing and medical care, but the parents have to stay close to their children to ensure their safety. His means that while the need to find work is very important, the need to stay at home is vital. Schooling for children means that the parents have some time to work and to plan for the medium term while their children are cared for in school, if only for a few hours a day.

9. Build peer to peer friendships

Children need to spend time with their peers under the caring supervision of trained adults. The school is exactly such an environment. They can play games and take part in organised team sports exactly as we would wish for our own children.

10. Keeps them rooted in their own culture

We are all rightly proud of our heritage and our culture. Education not only teaches literacy and numeracy, but is also a place to learn history, art, music and literature. Those uprooted far from their homes especially need to be educated in their own culture.