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(Too) High Standards Can Set the System Up for Failure

As is often the case, such a body might endeavor to put in place high standards for accreditation and certification. Doing so at levels beyond what is realistic for end users to engage in could threaten the approaches’ durability. The lesson learned about flexibility and simplicity of standards should be helpful in mitigating such risks.

Financial Support Will Be a Challenge

The recommended actions will require additional resources, and it is unclear whether either traditional or nontraditional donors will be able to or interested in meeting these new funding needs. The new financing mechanism being explored for education in emergencies should consider the challenge of current modalities for education and take into account the importance of supporting durable solutions (e.g., certification) as a priority.

Education Will Remain Political

As Talbot (2006) lays out, the very fact that a state is responsible for its citizen’s education could complicate and, in some cases, may devalue any UN certification. Some might question the ethics of undertaking such efforts and might mention the creation of false hope fostered in the establishment of such a system. Yet, nearly five years into the Syrian conflict and after an aforementioned UNICEF-led multi-year study of options for this cohort, they are still absent any realistic options save that being put forward. Very little of what is posited here is new in thought or construct. But the hope is to use the unfortunate opportunity of one of the most complex and large-scale crises of recent generations to renew the conversation on this challenging topic, be bold in recommending a step change in thinking about how to serve these children, and to help move forward the work that people like Kirk and Talbot have done to this point.

At the same time, this chapter is more than a call to duty or a call to action on ideas that have made sense for some time. More important, it is also a warning that if the sector does not do a better job and take some calculated risks in remembering commitments to basic humanitarian principles and institutional mandates, it will become bedfellows with those who have actively and willingly contributed to a generation of Syrian children increasingly bereft of a sound future. A complex challenge requires a complex set of solutions. Kirk (2009) recognized this when she noted:

To become the passport to a brighter future in a globalized world, students’

learning and achievements must be officially recognized by authorities

across jurisdictions. Any formal proof or documentation of achievement must have validity beyond its particular system, otherwise children’s ability to use their education as human capital in the marketplace, or to add to it through further study, is obstructed. (60—61)

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