Supporting access to education for displaced children, including those who are most vulnerable.

More than half of the 65 million people forced to flee their homes worldwide are children. Globally, 91 percent of children around the world attend primary school, but only 50 percent of refugee children.

Education offers opportunity, stability, and protection against hazardous child labor and early marriage – things children in refugee camps need most. In times of conflict, persecution, and displacement we must protect the most vulnerable, including girls.

Factors of the refugee crisis are more urgent than ever with prolonged conflict in South Sudan and Syria. The world is seeing record numbers of displaced persons, including children out of school, families forced to make difficult decisions, and girls at risk of child marriage, human trafficking, and child labor. Boys are often recruited for armed conflict and hazardous forms of child labor, and children with disabilities face unique challenges.

Education can offer socioeconomic opportunities, psychological stability, and physical protection. Opportunities to learn also contribute to long-term recovery and economic opportunities for displaced people and for the communities hosting them. Displaced children face considerable barriers to accessing educational services and, because the duration of such displacement is on average 20 years, children may spend the entirety of their childhood without access to such services. Who will rebuild a country after war? Can the world afford a lost generation?

The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education Act (H.R. 2408, S. 1580) is bipartisan legislation that if passed, will prioritize access to primary and secondary education for displaced children, specifically girls. Introduced in the House by Representative Steve Chabot (OH) and Representative Robin Kelly (IL) and by Senator Marco Rubio (FL) and Senator Bob Menendez (NJ) in the Senate, this bill:

  • Helps increase the access of displaced children, especially displaced girls, to educational, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities, including through the governmental authorities responsible for educational or youth services in host countries.
  • Encourages countries hosting refugee camps to support efforts to provide access to safe, quality education to all children
  • Provides coordination among governments, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based organizations, and communities to build support for access to safe education
  • Promotes hosting refugee children within local educational systems
  • Supports innovative approaches to providing safe primary and secondary educational opportunities in circumstances where inclusion is not possible or appropriate for displaced children
  • Mandates programs to include measures to evaluate the impact of the programs on girls, with respect to the reduction of child marriage, gender-based violence, and severe forms of human trafficking

Ask your members of Congress to co-sponsor this bill today.


Date Introduced: May 11, 2017

Number of Cosponsors: 50

Date Passed: October 3, 2017


Date Introduced: July 19, 2017

Number of Cosponsors: 18

Date Passed: December 12, 2018

Additional Links:

Learn more about this bill.
Learn more about refugees.
Learn more about education.

(Last Updated 2/4/19)