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War Keeps Many Syrian Children From School

  • Lisa Schlein

Syrian refugee children attend a class during the opening of a new school at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria June 4, 2013.

Syrian refugee children attend a class during the opening of a new school at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria June 4, 2013.

The United Nations Children’s Fund reports almost two million Syrian children have dropped out of school. UNICEF is appealing to the international community for funds to provide these children with facilities, teachers and supplies they need to continue their education.

School is set to begin in Syria but some two million children displaced inside and outside of Syria are not receiving a formal education. About 40 percent of those in grades one to nine have dropped out.

Around half of the children have fled the conflict in Syria and now are refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, said UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado.

“Most children cannot go to school for a whole host of reasons-intensifying violence inside Syria; language challenges; access; security; poverty; and tensions within communities. Thirty months into the conflict, children are becoming increasingly afraid, angry and frustrated. The risk of a lost generation becomes more acute with each day that they are out of school," said Mercado.

Lebanon has some 550,000 school-aged Syrian children. UNICEF says the public education system can accommodate 300,000 Lebanese students. UNICEF is setting up schools in buses for refugees.

In Jordan, UNICEF says around two-thirds of some 150,000 Syrian school-aged children are not in school. In one main camp, fewer than half of the 30,000 Syrian children are in school. Imams and community leaders are promoting learning in Jordan.

In Iraq, UNICEF says nine out of 10 refugee children are out of school.

Spokeswoman Mercado says the education system inside Syria is devastated.

“You have over 3,000 schools that have been damaged or destroyed, over 900 schools are being used as shelter for displaced families. And where schools are operating, there are not enough teachers, not enough classrooms, not enough resources…The fact that there are still children going to school in this context is quite incredible and, I think, that speaks to the extraordinary priority that Syrians place on education. Parents are talking about the risk they incur when they send their kids to school," she said.

Mercado says the agency is running home-based self-learning programs But UNICEF says it has received only $51 million out of $161 million requested from international donors for education.

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