UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. UN Photo / Devra Berkowitz
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 24 people were forced to flee their homes each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade ago.
One out of every 113 people on Earth has been displaced due to conflict or persecution, and 51 per cent of the world’s refugees are children, many of whom have been separated from their parents or are travelling alone.
A mobile device, according to UNHCR, is often one of the few possessions taken by people forced to leave their homes, and in many instances displaced people have access to a smartphone.
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Increasingly, mobile technology can provide a lifeline to education binging learning to people where they are, preparing them for work, easing their integration into new communities, firing their imaginations, building resilience and illuminating routes from an uncertain present to more promising futures.
This year’s Mobile Learning Week, to be held from 20-24 March, 2017 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, will explore how technology can help meet the educational needs of refugees and other learners displaced by emergency and crisis.
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Worldwide, refugees now number over 21.3 million, and UNHCR estimates that refugee children are five times more likely to be out-of-school than non-refugees.
Presently only 50 percent of refugee children have access to primary school, and these deficits compound as refugees age: just 22 percent of refugees enrol in secondary school and only 1 percent go on to higher education.
Data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that out-of-school children increasingly live in conflict-affected countries, but education, which can help protect children and break cycles of conflict, is often not considered in the early stages of emergency and crisis response.
UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, highlighting the urgency of bringing education to the millions of children and youth whose future is jeopardized by conflicts, displacement and natural disasters, has said: “Education must be seen as part of the first response when crisis hits and an integral part of any peace-building strategy.”