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Amman, Jordan (October 10, 13): Ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child – with focus this year on education – CARE International expresses its deep concern that weeks after the new school year has started, thousands of Syrian girls are still unable to attend school.
“Many Syrian girls have been out of school for the past year or longer, as violence, danger and constant fleeing in search of safety have prevented families from sending their children to school. Some families have found safety in Jordan, but having access to education remains a challenge. Despite schools providing double shifts, and class sizes having almost tripled in some of Jordan’s most affected areas, many schools are unable to take in more Syrian refugee children. In some instances, parents tell us that they haven’t even been accepted to include their children’s names on the waiting lists,” said Salam Kanaan, CARE Jordan Country Director.
According to United Nations’ estimates, of the over 2.1 million Syrian refugees, nearly 328,000 are school-aged girls. Many of them are now missing out on continuing their education, and being in an environment where they can find some sense of normalcy again.
In Jordan, only one third of some 150,000 Syrian school-aged children, of which more than a half are girls, are currently attending school.
“I have spoken to Syrian refugee families who have three to five children. The parents are often forced to take a difficult decision−having to choose to send only one or two of their children to school. This is due to the limited places in school, but also to financial constraints – with parents unable to cover costs related to transportation or school supplies. More often than not, it is the girls who lose out, as parents are also concerned about allowing their daughters to take public transport, or walk long distances to the schools that might have available places,” said Kanaan.
In neighbouring Lebanon – the country that hosts the highest number of refugees – estimates show that the enrolment rates of Syrian children are under ten percent, and that by the end of 2013, the number of Syrian refugees could reach one million, with nearly a third being children aged five to 17.
“Recognizing the efforts of host governments and the considerable pressure on education and other basic services, there is a urgent need for the international community to immediately scale up funding in order to provide support to an increasingly overstretched public sector in Jordan and other host countries,” said Kanaan.
CARE believes that every child has the right to a quality education, even in the most difficult circumstances. Within Syria, since the last school year, nearly two million Syrian children between the ages of six and 15 have dropped out of school due to displacement and violence.
CARE warns that it is important to remember that education is not only about learning to read and write. It is also an opportunity for children to be in a safe space where they can regain a sense of normalcy after a disrupted recent past, filled with painful memories. It is not only about the immediate term; education is a critical investment in every refugee girl and boy’s future, and, ultimately, in the future of Syria.
CARE is providing life-saving services to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon and to people affected by the crisis in Syria. In Jordan, CARE has helped more than 110,000 Syrian refugees, providing financial and social support so that refugee families are stable enough to send their children to school. CARE is also planning to create family centres where refugee children can play safely with other children, read books, and be in an environment where they can feel like children again.
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and providing lifesaving assistance in emergencies. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. CARE has been working in Jordan since 1948. CARE Jordan has extensive experience working with refugees, providing livelihood training and opportunities, emergency cash assistance, information sharing and psychosocial support to Iraqi refugees since 2003.