Young Syrian refugees will be allowed to enroll at public schools in Lebanon and Jordan without any obstacles, thanks to a sizeable international donation.
More than $316 million was pledged last week to the No Lost Generation initiative, as part of a U.N.-led effort to ease the impact of the conflict on young people. The money will fund education and counseling services for students in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, according to a Unicef press release.
The money has triggered a loosening of restrictive policies in Lebanon and Jordan that had been keeping Syrian children out of schools. Although refugee children in those countries have lost a month of school, they may yet be able to enroll.
“Last year, we endured the cost of educating Syrians at our schools. Yet, we are unable to continue this year,” Elias Bou Saab, Lebanese minister of education had told the Annahar newspaper. But Bou Saab retracted that decision after getting $56 million from international donors to support the education of more than 100,000 Syrians at Lebanese schools.
“Our schools are ready to welcome refugees’ students in two shifts a day,” the minister said, pointing out that the ministry is still seeking $200 million from international organizations to support the education of refugee students. A recent report by Save the Children estimated that four out of five Syrian children in Lebanon are out of school.
According to this new statement, Syrian students can register at Lebanese public schools until the first of November. “We have not been informed officially about this yet,” said a school manager in Sidon who asked not to be named. “We read it in the newspaper like everyone else,” he said, adding that there are dozens of Syrian students on the school’s waiting list.
In Jordan, there wasn’t a declared decision preventing Syrians from joining public schools. But administrative obstacles had blocked many of them from attending Jordanian schools. “After several entreaties, they accepted my daughter and admitted her to the eighth grade,” said Samira Mohamed, a Syrian mother whose daughter had faced difficulties enrolling because she doesn’t have residency papers. “I still feel scared,” she said, “as they could kick her out at any time.”
In Jordan, just after international organizations confirmed their support of Jordanian education with $38 million, the Jordanian minister of education, Mohammad Al Thneibat, announced Jordan’s commitment to providing education to all refugee children in the country. “I have visited over 250 schools across the Kingdom and found that Syrian students are enrolled at almost all of our schools,” he said during a visit to Al Hussein secondary school for girls in Amman, which operates a double-shift system and accommodates around 500 Syrian students.
According to Unicef statistics, a total of 98 public schools in Jordan are operating double shifts now to accommodate around 130,000 Syrian students.
Still, Samira is worried. “Is the donation for the whole school year? What about the next year? We’re completely exhausted and do not know how to tolerate tomorrow’s surprises.”