Joint article of Wendy Kopp, CEO and co-founder of Teach For All, and Frank Appel, CEO, Deutsche Post DHL Group
From January 17 to January 20, world leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. At the event, they were invited to imagine what life might be like if they had been swept up in the refugee crisis that has driven 65 million people from their homes. One of many things that they and their children would likely be deprived of is an education.
At the same time as the refugee crisis has become more acute, the world agreed upon an ambitious but critically important vision for the future of education. If achieved, Goal 4 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals will ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030. As partners who have been working together since 2010 to improve education and the employability of young people around the world, we applaud world leaders for placing such high importance on this issue.
Yet, as only a glance at the headlines of the day would suggest, we are far from ensuring each and every person an education that allows them to explore their full potential-especially for children and young people with refugee status. One of the international community’s most pressing challenges right now is to provide quality education to the millions of people seeking refuge from violence, conflict, or persecution-half of whom are under the age of 18. A recent report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) finds that refugees of school age are five times more likely to be out of school than the global average.
Education is especially crucial in times of displacement; it can offer a stable and safe environment for those who need it most, while supporting social and economic integration that benefits both refugees and the countries that are likely to become their new homes. Although only 50% of refugee children have access to primary education, compared with a global average of 90%, multi-stakeholder cooperation is already playing a key role in improving the quality of education. But there is still significant untapped potential for collaboration between NGOs and the public and private sectors.
Public private partnerships harbor much of that potential. Deutsche Post DHL Group and Teach For All – a global network of 41 independent partner organizations focused on developing collective leadership to ensure all children have the opportunity to fulfill their potential-joined forces in 2010 to pursue the common goal of improving education, expanding educational opportunity and addressing the problem of education inequality.
Teach For All partners work to develop collective leadership by recruiting outstanding university graduates and professionals to teach for two years in high-need communities, an experience that informs and inspires many of them to commit a lifetime to expanding opportunity for children. More than 75,000 alumni from Teach For All’s network partners have taught nearly 10 million children and young people. Around 60% of Teach For All’s alumni are still engaged in educational assistance both inside and outside of the classroom, and many more are working to address their needs through roles in other sectors such as policy and medicine.
To address the educational needs of refugees, local Teach For All partner organizations and Deutsche Post DHL Group are working to provide teaching and financial resources in refugee host countries. Teach For All’s network partners in Lebanon, Germany, Austria, and Sweden are working to adjust their approaches to teacher training and placement to better support refugee students in their classrooms, with some Fellows focusing exclusively on helping new arrivals gain language and life skills. This year, Deutsche Post DHL Group will support Teach For Lebanon’s efforts to educate 500 refugee children in schools throughout the country. In Germany, Teach First Deutschland, along with a multitude of NGOs and other partners, are supporting a company-led refugee initiative in which 100 DPDHL Group employees coordinate 14,000 employee volunteers who provide language training, cultural integration and labor market entry support to refugees.
In Germany, more than half of Teach First Deutschland Fellows are teaching language skills to young refugees. As the founding partner of Teach First Deutschland, Deutsche Post DHL Group also mentors the teaching participants, intensifying their leadership skills, providing insights into the business world and even offering internships.
We recognize these efforts touch only a handful of lives, given the enormity of the refugee crisis, but they are grounded in a strong belief in the equal value and tremendous potential of each and every one of them. As the UNHRC report notes, today’s children deserve to thrive, not just survive. We are asking ourselves what more we can do, and hope we all do our part to ensure children seeking refuge beyond the borders of their own countries receive the education they deserve.