Refugees who have been cut off from educational opportunities will soon have a better chance to continue their studies, thanks to a new online platform.

The platform, Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (PEER), is a clearinghouse created to provide information to refugee students regarding university scholarships, resources, and other higher education opportunities.

Set up by the Catalyst Trust for Universal Education in collaboration with the Institute of International Education (IIE), the platform, which is not yet live, is meant to address the ongoing global refugee crisis.

Globally, there are more than 57 million children and youths who are of school or university-going age, yet are unable to receive a proper education due to war and persecution.

In a recent report, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that only 50 percent of refugee children have access to primary school education, with the percentage getting lower and lower the more advanced the qualification:  refugees in secondary school is at 22 percent, while a dismal one percent of the world’s refugees attend university.

In the report, the refugee agency said that currently, the global average for those with higher education is 34 percent, and in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring “inclusive and quality education for all” by 2030, governments cannot ignore vulnerable populations such as refugees and others who have been forcibly displaced.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement: “As the international community considers how best to deal with the refugee crisis, it is essential that we think beyond basic survival.”

“Education enables refugees to positively shape the future of both their countries of asylum and their home countries when they one day return,” he added.

More than half of the world’s out-of-school refugee children and adolescents are located in just seven countries – Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey – which already face their own shortage of education resources and manpower.

The platform, however, aims to change that.

“Bringing together so many disparate resources into one platform is an essential step on the path to helping millions of students worldwide access the tools they will need to build their future and rebuild their communities,” said the IIE in a statement.

John Sexton, a founding director of Catalyst Trust, added: “Many in the higher education community have indicated that they are willing to accept refugee students, and we aim to provide them with the education they deserve.”

Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the IIE, agreed: “As the crisis multiplies, there is a real prospect of a lost generation – we must not let that happen.”

Using PEER, which will be mobile-friendly, refugee students can find out about any scholarships and opportunities that they’re eligible for and have access to resources such as application guides, online courses (including massive open online courses, or MOOCs), translation services, and advocacy groups. Its materials will also be made available in various languages.

Initially, the platform will focus its efforts on Syrian refugees, but will over time expand its coverage to include refugees from all around the world.

Image via Associated Press

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