Educational Crisis for Syrian Refugee Children
It is easy for those raised in peaceful, developed countries, such as Ireland, to take access to education for granted. Children from ages as young as three years old attend preschools before graduating to primary schools and then secondary schools, and a large portion of these will go even further in their academic careers and attend university. However, this is not always the case. There are millions of children, across the globe, who are denied an education either by law or by circumstance. Tragically, those denied their right to education are often the people who need it the most.
The Syrian Refugee Crisis has been ongoing for the past six years. During these six years, an estimated 5.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Many of these people are children, in need of food, water, shelter, healthcare and education. In the countries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, there are 2.5 million Syrian refugee children registered. 731,000 of these children do not attend school, which is a 6% increase from 2016.
In 2017, outreach programmes such as the No Lost Generation Initiative, launched by UNICEF, have helped 997,000 Syrian refugee children to receive formal education. They have also aided a further 58,000 children to begin informal education in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The No Lost Generation Initiative aims to enhance quality and access to education for Syrian refugee children, as well as to improve the public education systems affected.
Public education systems, such as that in Lebanon, have been buckling under the weight of so many refugee children requiring an education. This has led to the rise of informal education centres, such as the Community Centre of the Good Shephard Sisters, which is situated in Lebanon. They provide a learning experience for refugee children and disadvantaged Lebanese children, creating stability and a daily routine, thus helping the children to find some form of normality. Many people are wary of institutions such as this one, especially those that are religiously affiliated. However, Sister Amira Tabet, who teaches at the community centre, claims that “we are here to help each other for the good of the people, whoever they are” regardless of their gender, nationality or religion.
The United Nations held a conference about improving education for Syrian refugees in London, in February 2016. During this conference, donors and host countries alike vowed to ensure that all Syrian refugee children were enrolled in school for the 2016-2017 school year. While the number of children not receiving an education definitely dropped, there was over 500,000 refugee children still not enrolled in education. Furthermore, the full sum of money pledged to Syrian refugee education did not reach the intended countries of Lebanon and Jordan.
Donating money to host countries certainly isn’t the only way to solve this crisis, but a transparent report on how much money is donated and where it goes would help to identify where most of the money is being spent and thus, where the biggest problem areas are. Bill Van Esveld, senior researcher for the Children’s Rights Division, believes that “It is still too hard to find answers to basic questions about whether Syrian children are getting an education, and if not, why…It is crucial that donors and host countries collect the information needed for Syrian children to get into school.” Representatives of all host countries for Syrian refugees need to meet and share their information regarding the education of refugee children. If they could each discuss what their biggest concerns are, they mind find that other host countries share the same issues or have discovered a way to solve them. This method of freely sharing information and advice could mark the end of uneducated refugees, not only from Syria but from all countries.
UNHCR Figures at a Glance: http://www.unhcr.org/en-ie/figures-at-a-glance.html
Syrian Refugee Crisis: Facts, FAQs and How to Help: https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/syrian-refugee-crisis-facts
Remove Barriers to Syrian Refugee Education: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/05/remove-barriers-syrian-refugee-education
Humanitarian Action for Children 2018-2019: Syrian Refugees and Other Affected Populations in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey: https://reliefweb.int/report/lebanon/humanitarian-action-children-2018-2019-syrian-refugees-and-other-affected-populations
Education for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjs5LpPnDBA&t=3s
Nia is a student at Maynooth University where she is studying English, Spanish, history and classics for her Bachelor’s Degree. She has volunteered to help combat loneliness amongst the elderly, to raise money for various charitable causes as well as work to raise awareness for the Irish language.
Nia believes in performing one random act of kindness daily, such as giving a generous tip or complimenting a stranger. Her hobbies include going to the cinema, travelling, creating bad puns, bullet journals, and slowly making her way through her bucket list.