Syrian refugee children struggle to get education, says UNICEF

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Syrian refugee children are struggling to get an education and many of them are obliged to leave schools and work, or be pushed into early marriage, UNICEF has revealed at the launch of a documentary about them.

Around half of Syrian children of school age in Lebanon — 187,000 young people — are out of school, explained UNICEF. The UN body noted that Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world. Instead of getting an education, thousands of Syrian children, some as young as six years old, are working in agriculture, factories, construction and on the streets.

UNICEF and the Government of Lebanon have provided more than 150,000 Syrian refugee children with access to public schools. However, to get more children into quality learning, UNICEF is appealing for $240 million for education programmes in Lebanon for 2017.

“Poverty, social exclusion, insecurity and language barriers are preventing Syrian children from getting an education, leaving an entire generation disadvantaged, impoverished and at risk of being pushed into early marriage and child labour,” said UNICEF Lebanon Representative Tanya Chapuisat. “Working with the government, donors and partners, we have managed to get nearly half of Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon into learning. Now it is time to reach the other half so that every child gets a chance to get a quality education.”

A Syrian refugee child featured in the documentary is 14-year-old Jumaa. The boy told UNICEF that he had forgotten how to read or write since dropping out of school and taking up a $2-a-day job.

Another is Mohamed, 11, who said that he had not been to school since arriving in Lebanon four years ago, and his parents had sent him to work. For Abeer, 13, there is no safe transport to take her to school. She left Syria six years ago and no longer attends school because of the transport issue.

Furthermore, UNICEF has pointed out that there are 23,000 refugee children, most of them from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, who are currently subject to dangerous diseases or even death due to the hard winter in Greece, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Last July, Human Rights Watch said that half a million Syrian refugee children of school age in Lebanon are without school places. It said that more than 150,000 Syrian refugee children went to state schools and 87,000 others went to private schools.

Imagine a school is a project which aims to provide background information as to the lack of education amongst children In Lebanon. Click here to view their interactive website and how they made Imagine a school.

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