Over a million children are missing out on schooling right now because of coronavirus closures and while there are online learning tools for many, Angelina Jolie is making sure the world doesn’t forget refugee children who don’t have access to the same resources.
The Hollywood star and UNHCR Special Envoy took part in a virtual UNESCO and UNHCR event this week with Ministers of Education from around the globe, looking into the specific challenges refugee students are facing during the pandemic and the steps governments are taking to ensure kids can return to school when it’s all over.
“We’re meeting today to discuss how we can prevent this disruption from becoming permanent for millions of refugee children,” Angelina began.
“If you were a refugee child before the pandemic, you were already twice as likely to be out of school than other children,” she continues.
According to a UNICEF report released earlier this year, about 1.6 million children have been pushed out of school during the COVID-19 crisis, with refugees and kids in the most vulnerable communities who often don’t have access to online learning resources impacted the most.
“To my mind, there’s one fundamental question in this, because of how the world so often speaks of and talks about refugees: Do we allow them to regard refugees as a burden? Or do we help them to see that they are individuals with huge potential, who, if given the right tools, can develop their minds, contribute to society and help stabilise their home countries?” Angelina asks.
“There is no better investment that we can make – and of course, it is also their basic human right that must not be denied.”
The event discussed boosts in funding from Canada and the UK to support underprivileged communities and refugee-hosting countries as well as the importance of including refugees in the discussions around education.
“We know a lot of what needs to be done,” Angelina said after hearing input from charities and representatives in education, “and I am hoping… that this is the first of many conversations…I believe we can accomplish quite a lot.”
Watch the full discussion below: