Khaled Hosseini

gets to know Muzoon, a student, advocate for education and future journalist.

Khaled Hosseini travelled to Jordan with UNHCR where he met 16-year-old Muzoon, a champion for education and affectionately known as the “Malala” of Syrian refugees.

Muzoon, 16 years old: “Education is important to me because I know that with education I am strong, I am aware of what is happening around me, I won’t be dependent on society, I will be independent and society can depend on me as an educated person.  When I first stepped foot inside the refugee camp I felt despair…I was worried that I wouldn’t go to school anymore.  I was losing hope.  But then I decided to continue my education.  I admit I found it very difficult to cope with all the change but I decided to set myself a goal – going to university – and I am totally focused on that.

I am going to eliminate all of the obstacles in front of me – I have decided to go for it, be optimistic, and accept and cope with the change. I started working with an NGO in the camp because I saw that parents and children thought education was an option rather than a necessity.  I see it as something essential.

I went tent to tent, caravan to caravan collecting information from parents about why they were not sending their kids to school.  Their main concern was that the certificate at the schools in the camp would not be recognized outside.  I would tell them it is not about acquiring the certificate as much as it is about expanding their knowledge because then when we can return to Syria and re-enroll in school we won’t be considered illiterate, we will know how to read and write and understand.

I want to work with media. I want to be a journalist. I like to write. I like to write about my community.

When Malala came to visit the refugee camps here in Jordan I showed her around and shared with her my hope that my peers will wear school uniforms rather than wedding dresses.  I am a refugee – I left my country to seek safety in another country and to keep going with my education.  I am safe here now and keeping going with my education.”

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Large numbers of Syrian refugee children are not in school, despite efforts by governments and UN agencies. Often it’s due to psychological distress or because the children are helping to support the family.  With so many children out of school for extended periods, Syria risks ending up with an under-educated generation. UNHCR is working hard to improve children’s access to quality education and strengthen the protective environment for Syrian refugee children. We are seeking ways of expanding national capacity and access to education, recognizing the stress on the public school systems in neighbouring countries.