The future looks brighter for many Syrian refugees residing in Jordan who will soon have the opportunity to attend school, many for the first time, following a recent announcement by the Jordanian Education Ministry that policies governing access to refugee education in the country will be softened.
The United States, United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland have provided funding worth $100 million USD to Jordan to deliver education to Syrian children in the country. Since the outbreak of conflict in Syria in 2011, Jordan has taken in around 660,000 Syrian refugees, with 226,000 of those being children attending school in the country during the last academic year, reports the non-profit, nongovernmental human rights organization Human Rights Watch.
However, around 80,000 Syrian children in Jordan, almost a third of all displaced Syrian children in the country, did not receive education in the last academic year, reports Human Rights Watch.
The Organization has released a report that outlines a number of policy barriers impacting displaced Syrian children and their families in Jordan when trying to access education, including the ‘three year rule’, which restricts children who are three of more years older than their grade level from accessing schooling in the country.
The Education Ministry has responded by opening unaccredited, informal schools for these children, reports the organisation.
However, donor funding has fallen short of what is needed to reach the 25,000 children aged over 13 years and impacted by the ‘three year rule’.
The organisation would like to see an increase in educational opportunities for these children.
Human Rights Watch also reports that:
“[O]ther plans include doubling the number of schools operating ‘double shifts’ to create spaces for up to 50,000 more Syrian students, and establishing a ‘catch-up’ program to reach another 25,000 children ages 8 to 12, who have been out of school for three or more years…”
The double shift system will be added to 102 schools in Jordan, Susmita Barel of the International Business Times writes.
Syrian families are being advised that their children may not be enrolled within the school initially registered with as many schools face overcrowding. Transportation difficulties, especially for those students who are placed within a school a long distance from where they reside are also an issue.
Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, states that Jordan is making progress:
“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.”
Additionally, Human Rights Watch reports that a major challenge that Syrian families face when accessing education is poverty. The organisation reports that Syrian parents are adapting to an economic environment that is slow to support them:
“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.”
According to Associated Press, since 2011, around 5 million Syrians have settled in neighboring countries, with 700,000 of these children who are not in school.
The effects of conflict are long lasting and complex. Sadly, there will continue to be economic and social impacts in the future as a result of the lack of access to adequate education for displaced children.