Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai wants world leaders to guarantee all refugee children access to a full 12-year education — something she says is necessary to avoid a lost generation as the planet struggles with the largest number of displaced people since World War II.
The idea of giving refugees education is not as widespread as giving them shelter, food, and other basic necessities. However, the idea of education should be such a basic necessity, because it is the building block to one’s life.
In order to be able to assimilate into their potentially new societies, these refugees need to have a foundation that will help them build their lives in the Western world.
Poverty, illiteracy, and the lack of opportunity lead to the very crime and social benefit depletion that Europeans (and others) are afraid of. With education, refugees are given the chance to become normal citizens rather than the continuous burdens many believe them to be. Education can be an instrument for social change, as Malala advocates, because it equalizes people in each others eyes; it allows people to communicate, create conversations, and assimilate.
To play this forward:
If a refugee has an educational basis, then he/she can become a part of European life, and his/her story will travel with him/her, but it will not be his/her sole definition. Rather it will be something that he/she can share and inspire understanding and change through.