According to the latest UNHCR Global Trends Report which was released on June 19, 2019, an unprecedented 70.8 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide. This number is up by 2.3 million compared to the previous Global Trends report which counted 68.5 million people as forcibly displaced. Among these people are thousands of university-aged youth looking for opportunities to start or continue their higher education. Despite the great benefits of education for displaced populations, education in emergencies remains one of the most underfunded sectors in humanitarian aid with higher education often considered as a luxury rather than a necessity. Today, only 1% of the world’s displaced population attends 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) supported by 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.
The word is witnessing an unprecedented level of displacement with nearly 20 people being displaced every minute. Among them hundreds of thousands of university-aged students seeking to reconnect to higher education. Increased collaboration and coordination between public and private sector stakeholders is needed to respond to higher education emergencies and ensure that students displaced by crises and armed conflict obtain the education they deserve to lead independent and self-determined lives.
Governments, NGOs, foundations and volunteers are undertaking great efforts to assist displaced and refugee 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 created a holistic platform that offers a database with educational opportunities and additional resources for students. PEER engages with partners to share knowledge and best practices in higher education in emergencies, builds capacity within the PEER network and creates new opportunities for collaboration among PEER partners.