The Netherlands pledges extra educational support for refugee children

The government is to provide additional funding to educate children in emergency situations and long-term crises. This was announced today by development minister Lilianne Ploumen in Istanbul, where she and prime minister Mark Rutte are attending the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). ‘Many of these children are currently unable to attend school,’ Ms Ploumen explained. ‘This robs them of future prospects and exposes them to radicalisation, exploitation, child labour and forced marriage. Girls are especially vulnerable.’

War and natural disasters are currently impacting the lives of over 75 million children worldwide. Research shows that education is almost always one of the top five priorities in humanitarian response. However, the budget for education is less than 2% of the total emergency aid budget. Ms Ploumen said, ‘These children could become a lost generation. We must prevent that from happening.’ To this end, the government has made an extra €7 million available.

The Dutch funding has been pledged to ‘Education Cannot Wait’, a fund launched on the initiative of UNICEF and former UK premier Gordon Brown, currently the UN Special Envoy for Education. Various other countries, including Norway, the US, the UK, Canada and Lebanon, and organisations such as Dubai Cares, have also provided funding. ‘Education Cannot Wait’ aims to provide 34 million children with high-quality education over a period of five years.

Education has long been one of the Netherlands’ priorities. Of its total budget for humanitarian aid, about 5% is spent on education projects. This includes not only primary and secondary education but also support to students in further education and training. Ms Ploumen said, ‘The fund has a triple goal. It aims to provide more schooling for children and young people and at the same time, use resources more efficiently. Third, it seeks to bridge the gap between short-term emergency aid and development programmes for the longer term.’