Syrian refugee students in second grade wait for the start of their first lesson of the year at Fatih Sultan Mehmet Primary School in Ankara, Turkey, September 28, 2015.
Umit Bektas / Reuters

This March marks five grim years since 14 boys in Dara’a, Syria were imprisoned for writing “the regime must go” on a schoolyard wall. In their small protest, they unwittingly sparked a revolution.

Young people were at the heart of the Syrian Arab Spring, and they have borne the brunt of the instability that has followed. For example, in Syria 12,000 children have been killed since the start of the war, over three million children have been internally displaced, and unemployment among youth is now over 30 percent, up 11 points from pre-war levels. Likewise, before the war, education in Syria was free and two-thirds of the children—both boys and girls—went to secondary school. Now, nearly three million children in Syria have no access to school; their old institutions have been bombed out or are used as command centers.


Among the 1.4 million school-aged children who have fled to neighboring countries, 700,000 do

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