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Jordan announces plans to get thousands more Syrian refugees into school

Education in emergencies

Students at a double-shift school in the capital Amman

 

Jordan has announced several measures that will allow tens of thousands of Syrian refugee children to go to school in the next few weeks.

The country – which is home to 225,000 school-age refugees – will let children enrol for the new academic year in September even if they don’t have the proper paperwork.

More than 100 of Jordan’s state schools willl start running a double-shift system, where local and refugee children are educated at different times. This will double the number of double-shift schools and let another 50,000 students enrol.

The education ministry also announced plans to create special catch-up classes for 25,000 children aged from eight to 12 who have missed out on three years or more of education.

“Our aim is zero children out of school in Jordan,” said Education Minister Mohammad Thneibat. “Jordan is completely committed to this. It is our national duty.”

He added: “The fundamental right of every child is the right to education, after the right to life.”

Syrian refugee Kafa, 13, does homework at a refugee camp in Jordan Picture: UNICEF/Noorani

 

At a Syria summit in London in February, Jordan pledged to educate every child living there during the 2016-17 academic year.

But many international donors have still to step up and provide the funds needed to get one million Syrian refugees into school in neighbouring countries, inckuding Turkey and Lebanon.

World leaders promised at the Supporting Syria and the Region conference that they would provide the $1.4 billion needed to educate all Syrian refugees. But $1 billion is still needed for this to happen.

The urgent funding gap has been revealed in a startling report published by the children’s charity Theirworld. It could leave hundreds of thousands of children out of school and at risk of child labour, early marriage, exploitation and recruitment by extremist groups.

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Jordan’s King Abdullah II said in a statement yesterday: “We have reached our limits… This is an international crisis and an international responsibility, and the world has to do its part.”

Jordan said it had signed a grant agreement with the United States, United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland that will provide $100 million to help put Syrian refugee children in school.

The measures annoucned were welcomed by the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF. 

Representative Robert Jenkins said: “We greatly commend this bold and positive move by the Ministry of Education, which yet again shows Jordan’s leadership and generousity in responding to the plight of Syrian refugees and all vulnerable children.”

UNICEF is backing a nationwide school enrolment campaign called Learning for All – Back-to-School, which works with the education ministry and civil society partners to target 200,000 families, caregivers and children.

Human Rights Watch praised the decision not to exclude children who don’t yet have government-issued registration documents.

Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher, said: “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.”


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