Prince William hears about need for early learning programmes for Syrian refugee children

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The Duke of Cambridge met Syrian refugee children during a visit to Jerash (UNICEF Jordan / Facebook)

Early childhood development, Education in emergencies, Refugees and internally displaced people, Right to education

Prince William has spoken to vulnerable Syrian refugee children about the need for safe spaces to help them learn.

On a visit to Jordan yesterday, the British royal chatted to youngsters and their families who are involved in an early childhood development programme.

Makani – an innovative approach sponsored by the United Nations which means “my space in Arabic” – aims to provide better learning opportunities for children who aren’t getting any kind of education.

“They talked about the services that they get in Makani, what they need in their communities and what the challenges facing them are,” said Ettie Higgins, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Jordan.

William also told one family about his own son Prince George, who is four.

Learning and other aspects of early childhood development are crucial if young children are going to achieve their potential.

Theirworld’s #5for5 campaign has been urging world leaders to invest in their children by providing quality nurturing care for the under-fives, including nutrition, health, learning, play and protection.

Prince William met the Syrian children during a visit to the Roman archaeological site of Jerash. Alongside Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein, he watched local children and young Syrian perform poetry and folk lore.

Half of the 655,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan are children. The government has provided access to school for all refugees – but so far only 142,000 out of 230,000 have enrolled, according to UNICEF figures.

With 30,000 children getting no-formal education, that leaves 58,000 receiving no structured learning.

Makani centres provide vulnerable children and youth with learning opportunities, life skills training and psychosocial support services under one roof.

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Jordanian and Syrian children from the UNICEF Makani programme welcomed the Duke of Cambridge (UNICEF Jordan / Facebook)

They are free and open to all children in the local community, regardless of their nationality or status. There are Makani centres in cities, towns and Syrian refugee camps in all 12 governorates of Jordan.

Refugee and mother-of-three Halima Abdel Karim spoke to Prince William.  She said: “He asked us about how we were received here, how was my life in Syria and if the children are getting education here.”

In a speech the day before he met the children, the prince paid tribute to Jordan for “the way in which you opened your doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees”.

He also visited Luminus Technical University College, where he was told about its efforts to help vulnerable youth through its programmes based on education for employment.

Theirworld’s #5for5 campaign and our work on early childhood development is supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

See some other highlights from the prince's visit

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