Saving Syria’s ‘lost generation’

The Atlantic reports: It wasn’t long after the onset of the Great Recession that academics and headline writers began referring to recent college graduates as a “lost generation.” Faced with unemployment rates for their cohort higher than at any time since World War II, young Americans seemed doomed to a lifetime of lower earnings and savings. But even at the peak of pessimistic predictions, pundits had to acknowledge: Those with college degrees were relatively well-off compared to those without.

What, then, do you call an entire generation that never even finishes college? That’s the threat facing Syria’s young adults. In the years leading up to the current civil war, enrollment figures for Syrian tertiary education had been climbing steadily upward—from 12 percent of the college-age population in 2002, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, to 26 percent in 2010, on the eve of the Syrian uprising. Now, the estimated 100,000 university-qualified refugees currently scattered throughout the Middle East and Europe must place their hopes in schools outside Syria—and that’s to say nothing of those still inside the country, where few educational institutions remain functional. In neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, all of which have been overwhelmed with refugees since the start of the conflict, only a fraction of students have found ways to continue their studies, despite the number of Syrian students in Turkish universities, for example, reportedly quadrupling in recent years. With professors and researchers displaced as well, Syria’s entire university infrastructure is at risk. [Continue reading…]

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