Education is the orphan of every war. Education in emergencies is one of the most underfunded sectors in humanitarian aid with higher education often considered as a luxury. Today, only 1% of the world’s more than 60 million refugees attend university, compared to the global average of 34%. However, the need for higher education is especially acute in places of conflict, where it is crucial in rebuilding societies and maintaining stability. Higher education is strongly linked to increased opportunity, strengthened economic development, improved public health and safer communities. It offers young people hope and a path towards a sustainable and independent future.
What is PEER?
In response to the world's global education emergencies, the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education developed the Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (PEER), an online clearinghouse enabling displaced and refugee students to connect with educational opportunities so they may continue formal and informal higher education. Due to the devastating impact of the Syria crisis on the country’s students, PEER will initially focus on the educational needs of Syrian students at the university level. Prior to the war, almost 30% of Syria’s youth was enrolled in higher education. Today, over 200,000 university-aged Syrian students have had their higher education disrupted.
The Syria conflict is unprecedented in its impact on university-aged students and has highlighted the need for increased collaboration and coordination between public and private sector stakeholders to respond to higher education in emergencies. Governments, NGOs, foundations and volunteers are undertaking great efforts to assist Syrian students but are often unaware of parallel or similar initiatives in the field. Students find out about scholarships and other opportunities through coincidence or word of mouth and often lack the resources and knowledge to navigate the application processes. To bridge this gap, PEER aims at creating a holistic platform that offers a database with educational opportunities and additional resources for students. PEER strives to engage with partners to share knowledge and best practices in higher education in emergencies, build capacity within the PEER network and create new opportunities for collaboration among PEER partners.
While PEER initially focuses on Syrian students, the platform will at full scale become a global resource for all refugee and displaced students connecting them to scholarships, language and online learning, and other educational resources. Additional services such as virtual advising will be added to the PEER platform. PEER will also feature a multilingual site providing information for students and partners in Arabic and English.