On the day that EU-leaders gather to decide how to respond to the horrible scenes of drowning refugees in the Mediterranean, we focus on a new challenge by OpenIDEO that is taking things one step further. In the new Refugee Education Challenge designers are asked to design education solutions that help refugees learn new skills and gain access to a quality education.

With globally over 50 million people driven out of their countries or home regions, a growing amount of children and young people is denied access to proper education and skills training. Or, as the representative of refugee organisation UNHCR James Onyango puts it in this video: ‘If we do not guarantee them access to formal secondary education, or access to skills training, then you have a substantial number of young people who are denied the opportunity to develop skills that are useful when the go back to build their country.’

In this challenge OpenIDEO teams up with the Amplify programme of the UK government, UNICEF Innovation and UNHCR. After the first phase of collaborative research, today the idea phase of the challenge starts. Designers of all kinds and from all parts of the world are invited to come up with new ideas to improve education and expand learning opportunities for refugees around the world. The best ideas will be selected in the summer and implemented from September onwards.

Education is not an immediate solution to the problems the EU-leaders will be discussing today. But it is a requisite for development and in the long term something that gives people a future, wherever they may end up.

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