Education a top priority in response to the Syrian crisis says UNESCO Director-General

© UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0016/Shehzad Noorani
Safaa, 12 year old Syrian, lives with her family in Erbil, Iraq.

The 2nd Pledging Conference for Syria takes place in Kuwait on Wednesday 15 January. UNESCO Director general Irina Bokova is attending the meeting to call attention to the importance of education. The needs are immense, both inside Syria, where 2.3 million  have stopped attending school, and in refugee-hosting countries, where over 60 percent of the school-age refugees (735,000) are not enrolled in school. The situation is particularly worrisome for youth, as secondary and higher education are largely underfunded within the humanitarian response. Accommodating Syrian refugee youth is also placing a profound strain on host communities, teachers, and on fragile national education systems. A new curriculum, the quality and relevance of education, and frequent overcrowding are some of the key factors contributing to low enrolment and attendance rates.

The Director-General will in particular seek funding for two major UNESCO initiatives. These will focus on (i) providing critical support for teachers to sustain the quality of teaching and learning, and (ii) promoting Youth Education for Stability and social integration (YES).

Over the past three years, UNESCO and several partners, including the European Union, have been responding to urgent educational needs, providing support to Syrian children and youth in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and in Syria. UNESCO is also deeply engaged in the UNRWA education programme that benefits Syrian Palestinian refugees, more than half of which have been uprooted by the Syrian conflict.

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