After missing out on years of schooling, Mahmoud has become a top student and an advocate for girls’ education

Ensuring refugee children and adolescents have access to education is a fundamental part of UNHCR’s humanitarian support. By upholding the basic right of every child to receive an education, UNHCR aims to prevent a ‘lost generation’ of youth who are unable to forge a future for themselves or help to rebuild their country.

But as the number of people forcibly displaced by conflict rises, demand for education also grows and resources become stretched. Facilities and materials can be in short supply, and often no schools exist at all. The figures tell this story: just half of all refugee children attend primary school, and this number drops to one in four by high school. Only one in every hundred goes to university.

But there is good news. In the past four years, UNHCR has helped an extra one million refugee children enrol in school. We couldn’t have done it without the support of people like you. This World Refugee Day, we say thank you for helping young refugees get a better start in life.

Mahmoud helps a community awareness group encourage girls to attend school.

Twelve-year-old Mahmoud is participating in an accelerated learning program, supported by UNHCR, which helps refugees who have missed out on years of education catch up to their peers. He and his family arrived in Buramino refugee camp in Ethiopia four years ago after violence erupted near their home in Somalia.

“Before I came I was illiterate. Now I have more education and I like to learn. My life has changed,” says Mahmoud.

When he is not in the classroom himself, he is out convincing others to enrol.

“I am raising awareness in the community for parents to send their children, especially girls, to school,” he says proudly. “We go door to door with a megaphone. We talk to the parents and tell them that the key to life is to be educated.”

Mahmoud now has big dreams for his future.

“When I finish my education, I want to become president of my country and open hospitals and schools that are free of charge to everybody.” 
If you believe every refugee child deserves an education, sign the #WithRefugees petition and help UNHCR reach its goal of five million signatures.

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