Syria is home to four million of the world’s 1.8 billion young people. Syria’s youth population is on the rise and is estimated to surpass four million soon.
The masses of young people represent a huge opportunity for our country. Yet, in countries like Syria, where a crisis has been going on for years and has substantially destroyed infrastructure, young people face tremendous challenges. Crisis has left behind a cracked education system, hunger and displacement, mountains of lost opportunities, and the list goes on.
Around the world, this year’s International Youth Day is being commemorated under the theme “Youth Building Peace.” In my opinion, education is the vital link connecting all of the 17 Global Goals to create a sustainable and peaceful future for everyone.
Without dedicated action and investment in education for children and youth, the entire generation risks being shaped by violence, displacement and an increasing lack of opportunity. A June 2017 U-Report poll, specifically for young people in transit from their homes, indicated that 68 per cent of the 190,810 young respondents believe that peace, stability, prosperity, friendships, happiness and healthy societies are all at stake if we don’t educate young people. It is a fact that without education the world will witness more conflicts and go through replicated cycles of violence in the future.
In Syria, and worldwide, education is at risk because of ongoing crises, and due to these crises, more needed than ever. Young people around the world understand the gravity of the situation – it’s why we have started to take matters into our own hands.
In 2016, I co-founded ChangeMakers Academy with a group of motivated young advocates for education. It held its first pilot supported the United Nations Population Fund in Syria as a complementary programme to formal education, teaching coding to young girls and providing them with the confidence they need to present innovative ideas. The initiative was born out of the need to close the gender gap in STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
Today, more than ever, we need to realize the necessity of involving both girls and boys in the process of peacebuilding. This can only happen if we provide equal education opportunities to both. Moreover, we must understand that the innovation power of young people is virtually infinite, as long as we support them in their endeavours.
As a young global advocate, on this International Youth Day, I call on my peers around the world to join the effort of making education more accessible for young people, including the most vulnerable, in order to make our societies more peaceful, just and prosperous.