Sky School founders Polly Akhurst and Mia Eskelund Pedersen at a Sky School event in London (15 March 2018).

Sky School founders Polly Akhurst and Mia Eskelund Pedersen at a Sky School event in London (15 March 2018).

Sky School was conceived in 2016, in response to the gap in quality education provision for displaced youth.

We believe that young refugees - as all people - have a right to quality education. Yet, only 23% of refugees around the world have the opportunity to go to high school, and a staggering 1% go to university.

In 2016, Sky School Co-founders Mia and Polly were working on a prestigious scholarship programme which admitted refugees to schools around the world to complete their upper secondary education. They found that for every scholarship place available, hundreds of promising applicants were turned away.

Mia and Polly researched what other educational programmes existed for these young people and found there were few opportunities available for refugees aged 16 and above. This led them to ask what could be done to enable more young people to access learning that could change their lives. The idea for Sky School was born: to provide transformational learning programmes at upper secondary education level for displaced youth and their host communities so that they can apply to improve their lives today and use it to open up opportunities for the future.

To develop the curriculum, Mia and Polly brought on board UWC South East Asia, one of the largest international schools in the world, who use their expertise in curriculum articulation to support Sky School’s curriculum development. A successful pilot course in 2017 led to the development and roll out of further courses in 2018.  Our current focus is on refining our educational model and developing the full curriculum for our high school diploma programme which will be launched in select sites in 2019.

To date, we have educated more than 100 refugee youth in collaboration with six partner organisations in five countries. And this is just the beginning. All of our courses have been oversubscribed and we have confirmed the acute need for the learning that Sky School provides. Our courses have a retention rate of over 70% and 100% of students would recommend the courses to a friend. Interested in how it works? Read more about our education and model here.

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