Jordan signed a grant agreement on Monday with the U.S., Britain, Norway and Switzerland that will provide the Arab nation with $100 million to help place Syrian refugee children in school. The country, which is home to over 600,000 displaced Syrian refugees, accommodated 145,000 Syrian children in schools during the previous academic year. Even so, roughly 91,000 refugee students were unable to receive an education due to overcrowding.
For the upcoming the 2016-2017 school year, Jordan aims to educate more children in collaboration with the pledges from donor nations and modifying existing education policies. With the funding, Jordan will add a second school shift in 102 schools, which will allow more refugee children to receive an education. The double shift system—which has been proven to be cost effective and successful in Lebanon—will open up an estimated 50,000 more seats for Syrian children.
What’s more, according to the Human Rights Watch, Jordan will be changing two key policies that have kept some children out of school. First, Jordan now allows Syrian children register for school even if they do not have government-issued documents. Second, the country has created a program allowing 8-to-12 year old children who have been out of school for three or more years to catch up to their peers. This move is expected to impact 25,000 children.
“Jordan’s Education Ministry has taken an important step by ordering schools to accept Syrian children this fall even if they don’t have their papers in order,” said Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “This move advances Jordan’s significant efforts to support education for Syrian refugees.”
The future of the millions of displaced Syrian refugees lies in receiving an education, making access to education both essential and urgent for refugee children.
“There are good reasons why we must act now if Syria’s refugee children are not to become a lost generation,” wrote Gordon Brown, UN special envoy for global education and former prime minister of the U.K., in The Guardian. “The average time out of a country for a refugee is well over a decade and, if we do nothing, thousands of refugee children may reach adulthood without ever enjoying even a first day at school.”