On International Day of Education, 2.4 million Syrian children are out of school

Syrian children in the Kawergosk refugee camp - November 20, 2018 (United Nations)

Syrian children in the Kawergosk refugee camp - November 20, 2018 (United Nations)

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) mentioned today, Wednesday, January 24, that about 2.4 million children are out of school in Syria.

The organization added in its report, coinciding with the International Day of Education, which falls on January 24, that the statistics included all regions of Syria. The number of children out of school represents nearly half of the children of school age, which totals 5.52 million children. The ages of the children out of school ranged between 5 and 17.

UNICEF speculated that the number of children dropping out of education is likely to rise, and they are at risk of permanent dropout, as the longer they stay out of school, the harder it is for them to compensate for the years of education they have missed. Some children have lost up to 10 years of education.

There are concerns that these children might fall prey to child labor, early and forced marriage, trafficking, and recruitment into combat.

The organization pointed out that one in three schools in Syria are no longer used for educational purposes due to either destruction or damage, being used to house displaced persons, or for military purposes.

This educational reality has led to a reduction in the number of schools that have been rehabilitated and hindered children’s access to education, making classrooms overcrowded. Additionally, tens of thousands of teachers and workers in the education sector have left the country, according to the organization.

The right to education

The annual report issued by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) on January 16 highlighted ongoing violations against children and their deprivation of education, as well as targeting educational institutions.

The report mentioned that the armed conflict had stolen the childhood of an entire generation or more, and protecting the rights of children, ensuring their access to education, and meeting their psychological needs are vital for Syria’s future.

The earthquake that occurred on February 6, 2023, affected the educational infrastructure in northwest Syria, where 54% of schools and 37% of education and learning places were damaged, with the number of affected educational buildings reaching 822, according to a report issued by Save the Children organization on June 15, 2023.

The 2023-2024 school year began in September 2023 within the northwest areas of Syria, and the escalation of hostilities significantly affected access to education for around 2.2 million school-age children, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued in November 2023. Estimates indicate that one million of them are out of school.

As per OCHA, 57% of children do not have access to primary schools, and 80% do not have access to secondary schools.

Children who go to schools suffer from recurrent interruptions in the education process during military escalation periods and continuous economic difficulties.

According to the OCHA report, more than 120,000 people, including 40,000 school-aged children in need of educational support, were displaced after the regime’s escalation in northwest Syria that began on October 5, 2023.

Approximately 25% (2,380 out of 10,853 assessed) of teachers in Idlib do not receive salaries, and those who are paid, need to work in other professions due to the high cost of living, according to the OCHA report.

 

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