DAMASCUS — For six years now, Syria has been at war with itself, and Syrian education has been one of the biggest casualties. Schools are damaged and destroyed, leaving behind a generation of Syrian students. In 2014, at least 3,465 schools were severely damaged or destroyed, some even overrun for military purposes.
Schools are constantly forced to close because of the conflict, forcing 2.8 million children out of schools. Before the conflict, Syria was near a 100 percent enrollment rate. At this point, Syria now has the world’s second worst school attendance rate. “The situation is terrible but we must give Syrian children hope, above all in education,” said Maria Calivis, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Neighboring Lebanon took in 207,000 refugee children in 2016 and has placed many in its school systems. Lebanon has placed a select few students in summer schools and psychosocial support programs, courtesy of the NGO Save the Children and with support from UNICEF. Lebanese schools have offered double-shift education, or schools with both day and night time classes, and have plans to offer 400,000 places for education by doubling the number of schools.
Turkey and Jordan are also helping Syrian students. Partnering with UNICEF, Turkey wants to double its school places for refugees to more than 450,000.
Even with aid, Syrian education and the students have been severely impacted. There is still no defined Syrian curriculum for Syrian children both inside and outside of the country. The language barriers outside the nation, economic hardship and lack of accountability have combined to leave Syrian education as one of the largest casualties of the crisis.
Even with schools in Lebanon taking in Syrian refugee children, the Lebanese school curriculum is different than the Syrian curriculum. Most of the education is taught in English, which few Syrian refugees understand, and is more difficult and more advanced, making it even harder for Syrian children.
The support programs from NGOs and UNICEF have brought some relief, but the programs only cover 5,450 children and are facing gaps in funding. The international community has an obligation to show the Syrian children that they are not forgotten. A great start for the world would be showing support and giving aid to Syrian education and the refugees impacted.Calivis continued explaining in an interview that “We simply cannot allow an entire generation of children and adolescents to be lost to ignorance, exploitation, despair and radicalisation.”
Calivis, in an interview, said that “We simply cannot allow an entire generation of children and adolescents to be lost to ignorance, exploitation, despair and radicalisation.”
– Mary Waller