Two million children inside Syria and 700,000 Syrian refugee children are out of school as a result of the crisis in Syria. Some of the most excluded children live in Za'atari camp in Jordan, where almost half of the school-aged children in the camp are not enrolled in formal education.
Save the Children’s Every Last Child campaign is committed to ensuring no child is denied the opportunity to survive and learn. We are campaigning to ensure that no refugee child is out of school for more than one month.
In December 2015, Guy Clarke, Save the Children’s Interim Regional Director for Middle East and Eurasia visited the Za’atari camp. Below is a video and blog about his trip.
Education at the Za'atari camp
Across Jordan, there are over 200,000 registered school-aged Syrian refugees, 90,000 of which are not getting any education, with a third of these living in Za'atari camp. This means that there are 30,000 children in Za'atari that should be enrolled in schools, but are not.
Over half of the 80,000 people living in Za’atari camp are children, more and more of whom are having to go to work to earn money for their families. Save the Children has created drop-in centres (DICs) which provide safe spaces for children involved in labour by offering psychological support as well as learning opportunities through non-formal education and life skills programmes.
Amongst the many children I met, I will always remember listening to Ahmad*, a 14-year-old boy reading a story to his friends. Just four months ago, this young boy could not read. Despite the difficult circumstances faced by Ahmad and many excluded children, he learnt how to read thanks to the passion and commitment of the field assistants and volunteers.
"Boys coming here are very smart. Their context and environment make them very mature and pushes them to learn very fast, such as Ahmad did with learning to read. Through flexibly-designed programmes and flexible schedules, the DICs encourage children to engage and learn very fast," said the Save the Children Camp Manager. Children love coming here, and one of the thing they value the most is the flexibility provided in both what they want to learn and in the schedules.
Save the Children's work in Za'atari camp
Many Syrian refugee children have been out of school for at least two to three years and have very unique education needs which Save the Children is helping to address, by complementing the work done by UNICEF and the Government of Jordan. We provide children with psychological support activities, and through non-formal education programmes, we prepare them to take exams so they re-join formal education and receive certification. In the camp, UNICEF is running nine schools that follow the Jordanian curriculum and through which children can obtain certificates from Jordan's Ministry of Education.
However, not all children can join one of them for various reasons. Differences in curriculum, lack of legal documentation or previous school certificates, the perception that a certificate from Jordan won't be valid back in Syria, a classroom of 50-60 students per teacher, and a need to generate an additional income, are some of the barriers preventing children from enrolling in formal education. Despite all these obstacles, we can't afford to have a lost generation of children out of school.
In non-camp settings, the Government of Jordan has introduced a second shift to accommodate the Syrian refugee children with free formal education opportunities; however, we need to ensure a high level of quality not only for Syrian children, but also for the children of Jordanian host communities, whose time in school has been reduced to accommodate the second shift.
Every Last Child is providing an opportunity to amplify the voices of the most excluded children and remove the barriers preventing them from surviving and learning. For instance, a girl should not be missing school because her family can't cover the transportation costs or because of social norms discouraging her from attending classes. Together we can ensure every last child survives and thrives.
*Name has been changed to protect identity