Last month the NetHope Solutions Center presented an exclusive webinar with Mark Chapple, World Vision Syria Response. The webinar detailed the No Lost Generation Initiative (NLG), which was established in 2013 as a joint strategic framework to support children and youth affected by the crisis in Syria. Chapple described the history and ongoing efforts of the NLG initiative with UNICEF as well as World Vision’s education, protection, and youth programs in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.
Chapple also announced the NLG Education Summit focusing on Syrian children and youth. The Summit will take place in Amman, Jordan on March 1-2, 2017. “The summit’s aim is to provide a space for education technology innovation experts and education providers to develop action plans for enhancing education solutions for children impacted by the crisis in Syria,” he said. The summit will create space for collaborative partnerships in order to widen the scale and impact of education technology (EdTech) initiatives. Another goal is increased exposure for proven EdTech providers in an effort to broaden funding and support. Ultimately, the summit aims to provide seed funding for up to three action plans that have the highest probability of scalable impact.
“Ensuring that young people are engaged in productive and proactive activities; have a stake in their communities, and feel that they have a part in rebuilding Syria, is critical to ensuring that we do not lose a generation of young people and that we have a positive result in Syria once the war is over.”
A lost generation
The presentation began with a contextual update of the Syrian refugee crisis as it pertains to children and youth affected by the conflict. “At the last count there are at least 10 million Syrians displaced across the region and over half of those are children,” said Chapple. Prior to the civil war, Syria had traditionally enjoyed high levels of literacy and education for its population. But now, after years of civil war, 5.4 million displaced children and youth inside Syria are in need of education assistance. There are another 1.65 million children who are currently residing in the five refugee host countries that signed on to the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP). Even though Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq have opened up their education protection systems to displaced children, those systems are struggling to keep pace with the large influx of refugees.
Displaced youth aged 15 to 24 are a different story. An estimated 3.3 million reside in Syria, and close to a million more are registered refugees living across the five 3RP host countries. Most of these young refugees are out of school. They struggle to gain admittance to secondary and higher education, and employment is rarely an option given the restrictions placed on hiring refugees. “The risk of losing an entire generation of Syrian children and youth is very real,” Chapple said.
Chapple emphasized that funding for child protection, education, and youth engagement are critical in order to secure a future for Syrians once the conflict has ended. In an effort to prevent the loss of an entire generation of Syrians by the trauma of war and displacement, the NLG initiative focuses on sectors of humanitarian aid that have been traditionally underfunded and overlooked: education, child protection, and adolescent and youth engagement.
“When it started in 2013, the Initiative was very successful in galvanizing support within the 3RP host countries for these underserved sectors,” Chapple said. There are 20 active NLG partners working at the regional level, and 100 partners from the 3RP member countries and the UN Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) dedicated to the framework for critical interventions in education and child protection.
At the end of 2015, the NLG was revitalized with continued investment by UNICEF, Mercy Corps, World Vision, and Save the Children, who collaborated to update the work plan and NLG Initiative guidelines. “Central to the revitalization effort was continued emphasis on the three core pillars of the program: education, child protection, and adolescents and youth.” As the war in Syria enters its sixth year, Chapple described the NLG’s four guiding strategies as “scaling up of services, strengthening the quality of these services, increasing demand by removing barriers to access, and advocating for legal and policy reform.”
Chapple went on to describe the positive outcomes of the NLG regionally as increased cohesion between the partner states and greater visibility for the issues faced by children and youth within the humanitarian aid sector. The initiative has also been effective in producing more efficient collaboration and partnerships between aid agencies, youth networks like YPEER, and oversight bodies that encourage innovation.
“Young people are the future,” said Chapple. “There are huge risks of exploitation and radicalization amongst the refugee population. Ensuring that young people are engaged in productive and proactive activities; have a stake in their communities, and feel that they have a part in rebuilding Syria, is critical to ensuring that we do not lose a generation of young people and that we have a positive result in Syria once the war is over.”
The 2017 NLG EdTech Summit
“Come with some ideas for action planning; with some ideas for road-mapping and a way forward.”
Organizers of the NLG EdTech Summit expect well over one hundred attendees, as the summit is open to the non-profit, private, and public sectors, and they hope that the summit will draw innovative, non-traditional partners and supporters in the realm of humanitarian aid into collaboration. Syrian companies and organizations are invited and expected to attend. Those organizations who have EdTech programs deployed in the field, as well as their partners, will be on hand to present their evidence base. Any organization interested in developing or supporting EdTech is encouraged to attend.
“Come with some ideas for action planning; with some ideas for road-mapping and a way forward,” said Chapple. “Be prepared to work with colleagues on their specialized, or geographic area of expertise in order to focus on securing funding for their action plan.”
Register now for the 2017 NLG EdTech Summit. Attendance is free, but registration is required.
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A recording of this webinar, as well as a PDF of the presentation, can be found here.