Global Campaign for Education-US Welcomes New Law to Help Educate Refugee Girls
Washington, D.C. (January 18, 2019) – Global Campaign for Education welcomed the signing into law of the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act by President Trump on January 14. GCE-US, together with partners including Girl Up and JRS/USA , supported this legislation since it was introduced in 2017.
The law authorizes the U.S. government to make the education of children in areas of conflict a priority in their assistance efforts and directs the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase the access of displaced children, especially girls, to educational, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities.
GCE-US coalition partner Girl Up Co-Executive Director Melissa Kilby said, “Girls in refugee settings are among the most vulnerable in the world.” Girl Up Co-Executive Director Anna Blue added, “And making sure they have access to education is key to creating a better future for them, their communities and for the world.”
Giulia McPherson, JRS/USA Director of Advocacy and Operations and GCE-US Chair, Education in Emergencies Working Group, stated, “The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act will ensure that the U.S. Government continues to work with multilateral, private and civil society organizations to improve access to education for refugee girls. Only by working together will we be able to provide the resources and attention necessary to make strides towards a quality education for all refugees.”
“It's wonderful to see that such an important, bipartisan effort has now been signed into law, to support girls in vulnerable settings. Refugee girls are the most vulnerable, and providing them an education is providing them a future,” said Jennifer Rigg, Executive Director of GCE-US.
This bi-partisan effort was first led in the House of Representatives, when Congressman Chabot (R-OH) and Congresswoman Kelly (D-IL) introduced H.R. 2408, the “Protecting Girls Access to Education Act.” Fifty representatives co-sponsored the House version. The Senate then took it up in July 2017, with Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Menendez (D-NJ) introducing it as S. 1580 and eighteen senators co-sponsoring it. GCE-US supporters advocated on behalf of this bill in the previous Congress, which passed the bill in late 2018.
“It is a sad reality that 62 million girls across the globe are not in school,” said Senator Rubio when he introduced the bill. “It is critical that we help change this and ensure that all children have access to a primary or secondary education, whatever their gender and wherever they live. When girls are not in school, they can become more vulnerable to human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. This legislation will help offer a brighter future for millions of children around the world,” said Senator Rubio.
Currently, over 68 million people have been forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution – the highest number since the end of the Second World War. Half of the population of displaced people are under the age of 18, and one third of displaced children do not receive primary education. The gross enrollment rate for primary school globally is 91%; however, among refugees it is only 61%. At the secondary schooling level, the global enrollment rate is 84%, and that figure drops to 23% among refugees.
A child or young person who is denied an education is more vulnerable to human trafficking and forced labor. Education offers socioeconomic opportunities, psychological stability, and physical protection for displaced people. It helps develop thriving societies and allows displaced people and asylum seekers the opportunity to rebuild their lives and communities. This Act prompts the U.S. government to partner with foreign education authorities to increase refugees’ school enrollment. Refugees will be able to take advantage of innovative policies that accommodate displaced students, such as shift schools and extended hours schools.
The Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US) is a broad-based coalition of national and community-based organizations, international NGOs, teacher unions, faith-based groups, and advocates dedicated to ensuring universal quality education for all children. The mission of the Global Campaign for Education-US is to promote education as a basic human right and mobilize to create political will in the United States and internationally to ensure universal quality education, which is at the core of all human development.
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