A Lost Generation: 4 Million Syrian Children Out of School


Human Wrongs Watch

More than 40 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Turkey are missing out on education, despite a sharp increase in enrolment rates, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on 19 January 2017 said.

A little Syrian girl outside her family tent in Nizip 1 refugee camp, Gaziantep, southern Turkey. Photo: UNICEF/UN048823/Ergen

“Unless more resources are provided, there is still a very real risk of a ‘lost generation’ of Syrian children, deprived of the skills they will one day need to rebuild their country,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth, speaking after a visit to southern Turkey.*

According to UNICEF, nearly half a million Syrian refugee children are currently enrolled in schools across Turkey.

But over 40 per cent of children of school-going age – or 380,000 child refugees – are still missing out on an education, despite a more than 50 per cent increase in enrolment since last June.

“For the first time since the start of the Syrian crisis, there are more Syrian children in Turkey attending class than there are out of school,” said Mr. Forsyth. “Turkey should be commended for this huge achievement.” Diversity ‘is richness, not a threat,’ UN chief Guterres tells forum on combatting anti-Muslim discrimination

Turkey is home to more than 1.2 million child refugees, making it the top child refugee hosting country in the world.

AUDIO: UNICEF’s Najwa Mekki says despite the Turkish government doing “a fantastic job” providing places for Syrian refugee children in Turkey, thousands have no access to a classroom.

 

In partnership with the Government of Turkey, UNICEF is helping strengthen education systems, increase access to learning and improve the quality of inclusive education for Syrian and vulnerable Turkish children.

Since 2013, UNICEF has helped build, renovate or refurnish nearly 400 schools, and trained some 20,000 Syrian volunteer teachers. Approximately 13,000 teachers receive monthly incentives.

Efforts are also under way to include Syrian children in a national programme that grants cash allowances to vulnerable families for them to send, and keep, their children in school. (*SOURCE: UN).

1.4 billion dollars sought by UN to save a  generation

With four million Syrian and host community children in need of education and no let-up in sight in the fighting tearing the country apart, the United Nations and its partners seeked $1.4 billion at a major conference in London on 2 February 2016  to save the current youth generation.**

“The scale of the crisis for children is growing all the time, which is why there are now such fears that Syria is losing a whole generation of its youth,” said UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Peter Salama, whose agency is coordinating the ‘No Lost Generation Initiative’.

“As a result of all the work being done by partners and donors, education and protection for children are now being prioritized. But what we must see in London is the step-change necessary to bring all children back to learning; to protect those who are at risk of dropping out; expand safe and inclusive learning environments; recruit and train more teachers; improve the quality of education, and support the development of technical, vocational and life skills opportunities for youth.”

Displaced Syrians receive UNICEF winter clothing kits. Photo: UNICEF/Aho Yousef

The London conference was being co-hosted by Britain, Germany, Kuwait and Norway, and leaders from more than 30 countries are expected to attend, with the aim of raising new funding to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of those affected by the crisis.

Nearly five years into the Syrian war, some four million Syrian and host community children and youth aged 5-17 years are in need of education assistance, including 2.1 million out-of-school children inside Syria and 700,000 Syrian children in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

Last year, the combined efforts of Governments and international partners helped more than one million children and youth inside Syria benefit from formal or non-formal learning opportunities. But with no political solution in sight to one of the most brutal conflicts the world has seen in decades, the number of children missing out on an education continues to climb.

Governments at the London meeting will also be urged to put more pressure on parties to the Syria conflict and those who support them to end attacks on schools and other places of learning, in accordance with international humanitarian law.

According to UNICEF, the killing, abduction and arrest of students and teachers has become commonplace, as have arbitrary attacks on schools. About one in four schools cannot be used because they have been damaged, destroyed or are being used as shelters for the internally displaced or for military purposes.

The No Lost Generation Initiative was set up in 2013. By the end of 2015 1.2 million children and youth inside Syria benefitted from improved formal and non-formal learning opportunities and more than 650,788 in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey received school supplies or support through cash grants. (**SOURCE: UN).

2017 Human Wrongs Watch

 

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