Studies of refugees from around the world confirm that families with children view education as one of their highest priorities along with other basic needs. In addition to an acute awareness that their children can only secure their future by earning an education, schooling in the short term is an essential protective measure that helps children heal from the shock of their displacement and trauma and gives them a chance at reintroducing normalcy.

Beyond conflict, climate change and natural disasters have been and will continue to be one of the gravest threats to the disruption of education and student displacement. With estimates of climate change potentially uprooting up to 1 billion people from their homes by 2050, the current emergency-based approach to providing education for children has to evolve. If children remain approximately half of refugee and displaced populations as is currently the case, then existing systems and efforts will fall far short of the capacity to support hundreds of millions more children requiring schooling in their temporary communities. Already, the Norwegian Refugee Council estimates that someone is displaced every second by disaster, meaning an average of 26 million people are displaced by disaster annually. Climate change may accelerate these rates as disasters intensify and become even more frequent. Thus, it is crucial the international community rethink its current funding allocation and adopt new solutions for education on the move.

International donors have dedicated more funds for education in emergencies. Most notably, in 2016, the international community established Education Cannot Wait (ECW)—a fund which reports to have raised over $1 billion and supported 4.6 million children to date. While this is a substantial improvement, education appeals still receive only 2-4 percent of humanitarian funding and ECW itself continues to have a substantial funding gap.

With conflict, climate change, and economic migration forcing an ever–increasing number of children and youth to leave their homes behind, it is time to prepare an urgent global education plan with new solutions and partners. Three ideas warrant consideration:

  1. Ensure that aid dollars incentivize host countries to accelerate the integration of displaced children into their local education systems.
  2. Prepare and support an international corps of teachers equipped to deliver education to displaced children in their host communities and remotely.
  3. Create a 10-year initiative to spur new innovative solutions for delivering education on the move.

Read the full article about the displacement of children and youth by Maysa Jalbout at Brookings.