SPARK is delighted to announce a new partnership with the EU/MADAD Fund, in order to tackle the higher education crisis for Syrian refugees and IDPs in the MENA region.

SPARK has been following the huge migration of young, educated people from Syria over the past few years. Among the young Syrians arriving in Europe, around 80% are higher educated. This represents a significant brain drain for a country where less than 20% received such a level of education. Moreover, the vast majority of young refugees currently residing in the surrounding countries; Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq/KRG, do not have access to higher education. In fact, less than 5% of Syrians in the age group 18-24 living in host countries have access to higher education.

Acknowledging this, SPARK made an assessment based on the economic opportunities currently available for young people in the region. This regional analysis allowed SPARK to establish fields of study with the greatest potential for future job or entrepreneurship opportunities. As such, SPARK and our partner, Al Fakhoora, also currently offer scholarships specifically for educational courses based on these findings. This model has ensured that SPARK is now the leading, and most cost efficient, provider of higher education scholarships for Syrians in the region.

Educating young people in the neighbouring countries has several key benefits. The first is that by maintaining an educated population in the neighbouring areas, it ensures that the skills necessary for rebuilding will be readily available in the workforce once Syria is safe to return to. Secondly, the cost of educating a refugee in Europe is around $30,000. Comparatively, the cost of providing food, water, an education and opportunities for a refugee in Jordan, for example, is around ten times less. Finally, it discourages young people from taking the treacherous journey to Europe or from joining radical groups recruiting for the conflict in Syria.

With enormous thanks to the EU/MADAD Fund, we propose to offer around 2500 more young people scholarship opportunities that can change their lives. Unlike other scholarship providers, SPARK also provides extra-curricular services to students, such as leadership development, economic empowerment courses and other student services, such as psychosocial support, in order to provide young people with all the tools they need to thrive.