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Press release

Return to learning vital for children amid Syria crisis

Funding desperately needed to increase learning opportunities for children

AMMAN, 6 September 2013 - Since last school year, almost two million Syrian children have dropped out of school, nearly 40 per cent of all pupils registered in grades 1 to 9. One million Syrian children are now refugees and helping them back to school is proving challenging.

“For a country that was close to achieving universal primary education before the conflict started, the numbers are staggering” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Displacement, violence, fear and instability are robbing hundreds of thousands of children of the joy of learning. Parents tell us they are desperate for their children to continue their education”.

As schools are set to re-open in Syria and neighboring countries over the coming weeks, the task of bringing children back to learning is monumental.

In Lebanon, the government estimates that there will be close to 550,000 school-aged Syrian children in the country by the end of this year, in addition to the 300,000 Lebanese children in the public school system. In 2013, just 15 per cent of Syrian refugee children were studying in formal or non-formal systems.

In Jordan, around two-thirds of Syrian school-aged children are out of school. Of the 30,000 school-aged children who live in the Za’atari Refugee Camp, 12,000 are registered for school.

In Iraq, nine out of 10 refugee children living in host communities are out of school. The past three weeks have seen more than 50,000 new refugees to the Kurdistan Region, around half of whom are children who will need support to keep learning.

Children are facing challenges going to school for a whole host of reasons – intensifying violence inside Syria; language challenges; access; security; poverty; and tensions.

In the face of all these challenges and amid increasing needs, UNICEF is doubling its efforts to bring children back to continuous learning in safety.

In Syria, this includes a home-based self-learning programme for conflict zones.

In Lebanon, schools have been set up in buses that reach both Lebanese and Syrian refugee children.

In Jordan, imams and community leaders are helping to promote a return to learning, additional classrooms are being set up to increase learning space, more teachers are being recruited and school supplies and furniture are being distributed.

In Iraq, temporary tent classrooms are being erected as quickly as possible to accommodate the most recent wave of refugees.

Far more financial support and funding is needed to provide more Syrian children with access to education. Of UNICEF’s $470 million appeal for the Syria response, education remains the least funded sector, with just $51 million received out of $161 million requested.



UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact:

Simon Ingram, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, singram@unicef.org, +962-79590-4740

Juliette Touma, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, jtouma@unicef.org, +962-79-867-4628




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