20.11.2007 -

Education for Iraqi children refugees in Syria

Three hundred thousand Iraqi children taking refuge in Syria, face the risk of losing their chance to continue their schooling unless immediate efforts are made to accommodate them in public schools in Syria. In this framework, cooperation has begun among UNESCO, UNICEF and the Syrian Ministry of Education to provide the children with quality education.

Three hundred thousand Iraqi children taking refuge in Syria, face the risk of losing their chance to continue their schooling unless immediate efforts are made to accommodate them in public schools in Syria. In this framework, cooperation has started among UNESCO, UNICEF and the Syrian Ministry of Education to provide these children refugees with quality education. 

A team of UNESCO office in Beirut visited Syria on October 2nd, 2007. The visit, which came as a part of extending cooperation with Syria in the Education sector, included meetings with the Syrian education minister, Ali Saed, and a visit to one of the public schools hosting a significant number of Iraqi teachers and students, in order to listen to their requests and try to improve their welfare and education. The UNESCO team consisted of Abdel Moneim Osman, Director UNESCO Regional Bureau and Hegazi Idris, Basic Education specialist.  

While Syrian public schools are accessible to Arab nationals, a majority of Iraqi students are still not enrolled in the school system. Dealing with such this problem will prevent Iraqi children from facing life-long repercussions that arise from the lack of education and illiteracy.

The minister expressed Syria’s need for assistance in the construction of new schools, designed to accommodate the increasing number of Iraqi students in Syrian public schools. He also stressed on Syria’s will to provide equal opportunities for Iraqi and Syrian students alike, and asked for the assistance of the UNESCO team in the ministry’s plan to launch an international bid in order to revise, reproduce and print all the books used in Syrian schools.

The UNESCO team, , also discussed with the minister the role of UNESCO in improving teachers’ training, and the establishment of an early childhood center (the National Center for Early Childhood), in addition to the construction of several one-classroom schools to accommodate dropout  students who had to leave their schools, as well as several multi-purpose community learning centers.

In order to get all these projects on track, the team is also seeking the contribution of donor countries and other UN agencies. A technical meeting was held between the team and UNICEF representatives in Syria to further discuss the suggested interventions and the possibility of implementing joint projects. The common proposal between the 2 parties was to jointly work on two fronts: accessibility for education and the improvement of its quality. An agreement was also reached concerning future meetings along with other partners to agree on the steps to implement the proposed projects.

In a follow-up to the team’s mission, the director UNESCO office in Beirut visited Syria again on October 9th, and met with the UN country Team and the Danish Ambassador to Damascus, to discuss Danish contributions and UN efforts to help Iraqi refugees in Syria. UNESCO Beirut will also submit project proposals based on the needs of the country to aid Iraqi refugees’ children.




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