Best start to education for thousands of preschool children in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps

12 March 2019
The first generation of children born in Za'atari Refugee Camp on their first day of school
“They are the same as children all over the world,” says the Kindergarten teacher. “They need to be prepared for school. Preschool is important for their psychological well-being and to prepare them for life. I love it here. I treat each and every child like they are my own. I dedicate part of my salary to buy them toys and games.”

ZA’ATARI/AZRAQ, 12 March 2019 – Thousands of Syrian refugee children will have access to quality preschool education as 54 new Kindergarten classrooms officially opened in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps as part of UNICEF’s support to the Government of Jordan to achieve universalization of KG2 in Jordan by 2025.

The new classrooms were built and equipped by UNICEF, and 65 new teachers and principals are being hired by the Ministry of Education, enabling nearly 4,000 refugee children in both camps to receive quality, equitable preschool education. UNICEF is also supporting the training of KG teachers in inclusive education, so that all children, including those with disabilities, can enroll and realize their right to an education.

In Azraq, the new classrooms and preschool places will result in the achievement of universal KG2 access for children in the camp. In Za’atari, where the first generation of children born in the camp started Kindergarten in September, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education are working towards closing the remaining gap by opening additional classrooms to meet demand - and provide a space for every child before the start of the new academic year.

“Quality and inclusive preschool gives every child the best start to their education – preparing them for future learning, reducing drop-outs, and improving their overall learning and development,” said UNICEF Jordan Representative Robert Jenkins. “UNICEF is working closely with the Ministry of Education to provide quality, inclusive education and safe learning environments for all children in Jordan.”

Evidence from a diverse range of countries is conclusive that investing in early childhood development is an extremely effective and cost-efficient way of accelerating progress for children, their communities and societies more generally.

Significant advances have been made since the government declaration in mid-2017 to universalize KG2 by 2025 and increase access to and the quality of KG2. Continued efforts are required to reach every child, including Syrian refugees and children with disabilities, with quality preschool education.

In addition to the increase of preschool places inside refugee camps, UNICEF is also supporting the opening of new KG2 classrooms in community-based centres across Jordan, including in Tafillah, Zarqa, Marij Al-Hmam, Baqa’a and Jerash, and working with the Government to implement an innovative cash-transfer programme for families in the most vulnerable districts to enable them to enroll their children in KG2.

UNICEF’s support for quality and inclusive education is generously supported by the Governments of Australia, Canada, Ireland, Norway, as well as UK aid, US State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the European Union. UNICEF is appealing for an additional US$24 million to support formal and informal education for children in 2019.


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