At the end of this week, the summer vacations will be over for all schoolchildren in Switzerland. On Monday, it's time for the rest of them to pack their backpacks and head off to class. The first days after the long vacations are certainly difficult - the sweet idleness was too good. But: Learning is also fun. And education is a matter of course for us. Fortunately, in our country, it is available to everyone throughout life. Education enables each person to follow his or her own path, to acquire specialized knowledge and thus to build an independent life.
But now imagine people who must flee their home country from one day to the next. More than half of them are younger than 18. They are ripped out of their daily routines and have to leave everything behind. This also means that they can no longer go to school or continue their studies. These are long, unwanted and forced vacations, with no assurance of returning home or to school anytime soon.
This is where UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, steps in: It has set itself the goal of ensuring that children and young people who have been forced to flee have access to education. This gives them back a piece of their lost youth and enables them to create a future for themselves despite the difficult circumstances. After all, if these young people cannot build their own future, entire generations will be lost to the job market, unable to integrate fully into their host communities or rebuild their home countries upon return. Education means hope. And it opens the doors to an independent, dignified life - even in a foreign country.
A good example of this is Arash Bordbar, who now works for UNHCR as Associate Education Officer. He himself had to flee Iran with his family as a teenager.
"Believe me, education is a lifeline that can change lives and offer a touch of normalcy in the chaos," he says. "Every day we see the joy in the eyes of children who, despite their difficult situation, are able to go to school and make themselves fit for the future. But it's not just elementary school that is important. Young adults need to be able to continue their higher education so they can realize their potential and actively change the world", Bordbar adds.
All children and young adults in this world have a right to education - and should be able to look forward to starting school after the vacations.
Learn more about UNHCR's efforts in the field of education here. The "Aiming Higher" program, specifically targets young people who already have a basic education but would now like to pursue a university degree. This enables them to improve their chances of financial independence and make a valuable contribution to the community.
Programs like this are only possible thanks to help from dedicated donors. You too can support a young refugee on their way to an independent life!
Thank you very much!