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Jordan gets $100 million for education of Syrian refugees Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Jordan gets $100 million for education of Syrian refugees

Syrian refugee children play at the Zaatari refugee camp, northern Jordan [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 August, 2016

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Donor countries have pledged close to $100 million to help Jordan enroll all Syrian refugee children in the kingdom in schools next month.

Donor countries have pledged close to $100 million to help Jordan enroll all Syrian refugee children in the kingdom in schools next month.

In the previous school year, 145,000 Syrian children in Jordan attended school, while 91,000 didn't, in part because of overcrowding.

Jordan is now adding a second shift in 102 schools to accommodate the Syrians, bringing the total of double-shift schools to 200.

Jordan on Monday signed grant agreements for the school programme with Britain, the US, Norway and Switzerland.

Some 5 million Syrians have fled civil war since 2011, many settling in neighboring countries.

The UN agency for children estimates that about 700,000 refugee children in the region are not attending school. In Syria, some 2.1 million children, or half the student population, are not in school.

Jordan’s education minister has instructed public schools to allow Syrian children to register in the fall semester even if they lack government-issued documents that were previously required, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

Carrying out this and other announced policy changes could help thousands more children attend school this semester.

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan have been unable to obtain or to update documents called service cards, which are issued to Syrians by Jordan’s Interior Ministry and are required for Syrian children to enroll in public schools. 

Jordan’s education minister has instructed public schools to allow Syrian children to register in the fall semester even if they lack government-issued documents that were previously required

“Jordan’s Education Ministry has taken an important step by ordering schools to accept Syrian children this fall even if they don’t have their papers in order,” said Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“This move advances Jordan’s significant efforts to support education for Syrian refugees.”

Jordanian regulations that preceded the Syria conflict had barred all children who were three or more years behind their age cohort from enrolling.

In a recent report, Human Rights Watch identified lack of service cards and the “three-year rule” as among the policy barriers that have prevented many Syrian children from receiving an education in Jordan. Jordanian nongovernmental groups have opened unaccredited, informal schools to reach these children.

According to Human Rights Watch, the largest obstacle to education for many Syrian families is poverty. Jordan has improved policies that prevented many Syrian refugees from supporting themselves through work and has issued more than 20,000 work permits to Syrian refugees this year, but at least 160,000 are believed to work informally.

Impoverished parents are often unable to pay school-related costs like transportation, since there are no public school busses.

Under the Education Ministry’s new plans, Syrian children will not necessarily be enrolled at the school where they register if those schools are overcrowded.

But if children are enrolled at distant schools, they may be unable to afford transportation, and longer distances may be an insurmountable barrier for children with disabilities, said the watchdog in a report released on Monday.

“Donors and other Jordanian officials should support the Education Ministry’s efforts to get all children on Jordanian soil into school,” Van Esveld said. “The ministry’s plans should benefit thousands more Syrian children this year, but for many, the lack of access to school is still an ongoing crisis.”

Agencies contributed

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