Give every Syrian conflict child an education, say leading charities

Children in conflicts, Education funding, Education in emergencies

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Some of the world’s leading charities and aid agencies have joined forces to demand a quality education for every child affected by the Syrian conflict.

The organisations, working inside Syria or across the region with Syrian refugees, include A World at School’s parent charity Theirworld, Save The Children and Plan International.

More than six million children affected by the war are in need of urgent humanitarian help – and there are plans to provide schooling this year to over one million refugee children in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

The timing of the call is key – with heads of state and government arriving in London for the Syria Pledging Conference 2016 on February 4, just a month ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict starting.

The joint statement says: “We are calling on the participants in the London conference to commit to ensure all children and young people affected by the conflict have access to safe, quality, and relevant educational opportunities during the 2016/2017 academic year and on an ongoing basis.”

It is signed by Theirworld, Save The Children, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Norwegian Refugee Council, Cafod, Handicap International, Syria Relief and Development, World Vision, Plan International, International Rescue Committee, Care and War Child.

The statement says a comprehensive plan is needed and calls on those taking part in the conference to:

  • Close the education funding gap
  • Enact policies that guarantee access to quality education inside Syria and in host countries
  • Protect students, teachers and educational facilities from attack

It adds: “Apart from the denial of the right of individual children to their education, the continued neglect of educational provision to children and young people affected by the Syrian conflict has serious, far-reaching consequences for societies and economies across the region, and the window of opportunity for getting back on track is closing fast.”

On the funding gap, the statement says donors must commit at least $1.4 billion annually to ensure all children and young people affected by the conflict are in education and learning during the 2016/2017 academic year and on an ongoing basis.

Among several policy measures outlined, the charities call for donors and host governments to work together to increase access to accredited quality education for children; an inclusive and flexible registration and documentation system for Syrian children; paying all teachers – including refugees – a liveable wage; and ensuring school policies promote child safety, well-being and inclusion.

On protection, the statement says attacks on schools and students should stop and schools should not be used for military purposes.

While the focus of the pledging conference is on education in Syria and for refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, the charities also say: “We urge the international community to acknowledge that Iraq is at risk of losing an entire generation of children and resolve to address the funding gap and the barriers that are preventing children in Iraq from continuing their education.”

More than one million children are internally displaced in Iraq – and 70% of them have lost an entire year of education.

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