Damascus/Brussles, 27 October 2016 – Many children in Syria are going to school amid escalation of conflict across the country but over 1.7 million school age children remain stranded bewteen conflict lines and could not retrun back to school. UNICEF with support from the European Union (EU) is working to give every child in Syria the opportunity to continue learning despite the hardships they face every day of the ongoing conflict.
The back-to-learning campaign aims to reach 2.5 million children including 200,000 living in besieged and hard-to-reach areas. Children will be reached with education materials, school bags and stationery. UNICEF also supports school rehabilitation and installation of prefabricated classrooms to ensure schools at host communities have enough capacity for children from displaced families.
“In Syria today, a five-year-old has known nothing but war. A 10-year old’s entire school years have been in wartime. Children’s education cannot wait – the very future of this generation is at stake. We must act now for every child to access learning at all times,” said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF’s Representative in Syria.
The lack of safe learning environments, unsafe routes to and from school, insecurity, shortages of teachers and supplies have meant that many children in Syria are not able to attend school. As conflict drives more families towards poverty, children are increasingly forced to leave school and take up jobs often in poor conditions and for minimal wages. The prolonged crisis continues to drive millions of children from their home, some multiple times, disrupting their learning and putting a huge strain on an already overstretched education system.
Helping these children to get back to learning is a top priority for the UNICEF-EU partnership. UNICEF has launched a back-to-learning social mobilization campaign to encourage parents to send their children back to school or benefit from alternative learning opportunities where schools are no longer functioning. More than 1,200 passionate young volunteers supported by UNICEF are conducting massive door-to-door campaign to map the numbers and situation of out-of-school children, to find out the reasons behind why children drop out and to reach out to parents and children with information about simplified school enrollment processes and the right to education.
“Education is key in preventing children in and outside Syria from becoming a lost generation. The EU supports the right of every Syrian child to access learning opportunities under all circumstances,” said Nadim Karkutli, Head of Cooperation Section, EU Delegation for Syria. “Since the beginning of the conflict, the EU has supported UNICEF with more than €100 million to help Syrian refugee children go to school in Lebanon and Turkey, and with €38 million for education programmes inside Syria , “ added Karkutli.
UNICEF’s work with partners and thanks to the EU and other donors generous support in education is paying off. A recent assessment shows a drop in the number of out-of-school children from 2.1 million in 2014/15 to 1.7 million in 2015/16[[i]].
UNICEF, supported by the EU, is set to scale up two innovative education programmes to help children get back to learning. The “Curriculum B” programme helps students catch up on lost years of education through accelerated learning classes. The self-learning programme provides alternative learning opportunities for children unable to get to schools due to the conflict. Between January and September 2016, over 105,000 out-of-school children have benefitted from these back to learning programmes. An additional 100,000 children are expected to benefit from these innovative interventions across the country during the new school year.
“Children across Syria are overcoming dangerous obstacles to keep learning. Many risk their lives just to reach a classroom. Despite the deadly conflict around them, they insist on getting an education. They dream of a better future for themselves and their families, and of the day they can help rebuild their shattered nations and communities. We must continue supporting the children of Syria by providing them with an opportunity to learn and fulfil their potential,” said Singer.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work.
For more information, or for interviews, please contact:
Shushan Mebrahtu, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Syria, +963 (0)992 89 28 64, firstname.lastname@example.org
Juliette Touma, Regional Chief of Communications, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office Jordan, +962-79-867-4628, email@example.com
[i] Whole of Syria Education Focal Point, New Data on Education inside Syria, October 2016