AMMAN – The United Nations Children’s Fund has warned that almost two million Syrian children have dropped out of school, appealing to the international community for funds to provide these children with facilities, teachers and supplies to continue their education.
“For a country that was close to achieving universal primary education before the conflict started, the numbers are staggering” Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a press release published on its website on Friday, September 6.
As schools are set to re-open in Syria and neighboring countries, the report warned that the tragedy would be affecting virtually an entire generation of Syria’s kids.
“Displacement, violence, fear and instability are robbing hundreds of thousands of children of the joy of learning,” Calivis said
“Parents tell us they are desperate for their children to continue their education,” she added.
In Lebanon, the government estimates that there will be close to 550,000 school-aged Syrian children in the country by the end of this year, in addition to the 300,000 Lebanese children in the public school system.
In 2013, just 15 per cent of Syrian refugee children were studying in formal or non-formal systems.
In Jordan, around two-thirds of Syrian school-aged children are out of school. Of the 30,000 school-aged children who live in the Za’atari Refugee Camp, 12,000 are registered for school.
In Iraq, nine out of 10 refugee children living in host communities are out of school.
The past three weeks have seen more than 50,000 new refugees to the Kurdistan Region, around half of whom are children who will need support to keep learning.
The UNICEF stressed that the Syrian children were facing a catalogue of challenges barring them from going to school.
“Most children cannot go to school for a whole host of reasons-intensifying violence inside Syria; language challenges; access; security; poverty; and tensions within communities,” UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told Voice of America.
“Thirty months into the conflict, children are becoming increasingly afraid, angry and frustrated.
“The risk of a lost generation becomes more acute with each day that they are out of school.”
Spokeswoman Mercado says the education system inside Syria is devastated.
“You have over 3,000 schools that have been damaged or destroyed, over 900 schools are being used as shelter for displaced families.
And where schools are operating, there are not enough teachers, not enough classrooms, not enough resources…The fact that there are still children going to school in this context is quite incredible and, I think, that speaks to the extraordinary priority that Syrians place on education.
“Parents are talking about the risk they incur when they send their kids to school,” she said.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in two years of civil war between Assad’s security forces and opposition forces.
According the UN figures released last week, the number of Syrians forced to seek shelter abroad since civil war began in March 2011 passed the 2 million mark with no sign of the outflow ending soon.
The UNHCR’s statement comes as the US administration continues to beat war drums since last August 21st suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus which killed more than 1300.