Italian actor Lino Guanciale with two refugee children in Rome | Credit: ANSA
Italian actor Lino Guanciale with two refugee children in Rome | Credit: ANSA

The UNHCR has launched a campaign in Italy called "Mettiamocelo In Testa" (Let's get it into our heads), to raise awareness and funds for refugee education. Research has shown that the millions of refugee children who are out of school are more likely to be exposed to violence and abuse, as well as facing an uncertain future.

Over 3.5 million refugee children worldwide missed out on going to school during the last academic year. Of these, 1.5 million failed to attend primary school and 2 million missed out on going to secondary school. These children are the focus of the UNHCR campaign "Mettiamocelo In Testa" (Let's get it into our heads) currently running in Italy, to raise awareness about the importance of education for refugee children and gather funds to ensure access to quality schooling. 

Globally over 90 percent of children of primary school age attend class, but among refugees the percentage drops to 61 percent and to 50 percent in low-income countries. According to the UNHCR 36 percent of high school student go on to receive a tertiary education, but among the refugee population the figure drops to just 1 percent. 

While the global fundraising campaign for educating refugee children has been running for several years, it has recently gained fresh impetus in Italy through the support of well-known Italian actors and personalities. 

To find out more about making a donation to the Italian campaign, you can visit the website here: #mettiamocelointesta

One child, two destinies 

The enormous impact that education can make has been the main focus of the UNHCR campaign, "Educate a Child," which was launched in 2012 across 12 countries: Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Malaysia, Kenya, Chad, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Sudan. The program has so far provided access to education for over one million children. The UNHCR describes such access as changing children's destinies, and a contrast is made between a child whose life has been destroyed by war and who has to work everyday, with a child whose life has been affected by conflict, but is able to attend school, make friends and choose a career. According to the UNHCR, these are two possible destinies, but only one leads to a dignified future through education.

'Important to invest in children' 

"The refugees that I have met do not have the right to education and this makes a big difference in terms of personal realisation and social equilibrium. When you're there, saying that education is as important as food is not just rhetoric. This is clear to the children as well," said Italian actor and UNHCR campaign supporter, Lino Guanciale. 

"In a world where it is currently difficult to find leaders who are capable of restoring stability and human rights in too many countries, it is important to invest in the future of these children," said Carlotta Sami, UNHCR spokesperson for Southern Europe. "Education is one of the first things children and parents ask for, because … it means keeping them away from huge dangers, such as the threat of being conscripted into armed gangs, of disappearing, of being abducted. Of holding a weapon rather than a book," she added. The Italian UNHCR fundraising campaign runs until January 28. "It is easy to help immediately by sending an SMS, 2 euros is sufficient to provide schooling for one child for a month," concluded Sami. 

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