Skills Training and Recreational Activities for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Project location: JORDAN
Project start date: September 2016 - Project end date: December 2016
Project number: 2016-041
Beneficiary: UNHCR


In times of displacement, education is crucial. Without the chance to study, an entire generation is at risk. A report released by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in September 2016, shows that more than half – 3.7 million – of the six million refugee children do not go to school. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children. Only 50 per cent have access to primary education, compared with a global level of more than 90 per cent. Syria is the latest example that shows how conflict has the potential to reverse positive education trends. Whereas in 2009, 94 per cent of Syrian children attended primary and lower secondary education, by June 2016 only 60 per cent of children were in school, leaving 2.1 million children and adolescents without access to education in Syria. In neighbouring countries, over 4.8 million Syrian refugees are registered with UNHCR, amongst them around 35 per cent are of school-age. In Turkey, only 39 per cent of school-age refugee children and adolescents were enrolled in primary and secondary education, 40 per cent in Lebanon, and 70 per cent in Jordan. This means that nearly 900,000 Syrian school-age refugee children and adolescents are not in school. The loss of education will impact on an entire generation.

The Right to Education is enshrined as a Universal Children’s Right, and it is even more vital if the child is a refugee or displaced from their home. UNHCR thus prioritises education as a core response for refugee children. Thanks to the support of Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, UNHCR will provide educational activities for Syrian Refugees in Jordan. The Syrian conflict has entered its sixth year and has become the first cause of forced displacement at global level. On a total of 22 million people of Syrians, half of them have been forced to flee their homes. Jordan is one of the countries which is receiving the highest number of refugees from Syria: as of November 2016, the total number of Syrians registered with UNHCR in Jordan reached 655,833 persons. More than half of registered Syrian refugees are children under 18 years of age. Jordan’s formal government schools opened the door to a large influx of Syrian students, however infrastructure are under increasing pressure to accommodate a large influx of Syrians students and the number of Syrian children out of school is still alarming. Moreover enrolment rates are highest in the lower grades and drop significantly in the higher grades, with large numbers of youth requiring access to skills training and language programmes. Of the total Syrian Refugee children enrolled in public schools, only 12% are children living in refugee camps, while the 82% live in host community. Indeed the majority of refugees live in urban areas, but over 117,000 of the refugees reside in one of the refugee camps (Azraq, Cyber Camp, King Abdallah Park and Za’atari). In camp settings the living conditions are particularly difficult and those residing there have limited opportunities to interact with the outside society and this effects children too.

UNHCR, thanks to Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, will promote skills training and recreational activities for the Syrians living in the camps, which will ensure access to safe, equitable and quality informal education for Syrian children and adolescents hosted in refugee camps. The target beneficiaries are 2,180 children and young Syrian refugees hosted in Cyber City, King Abdullah Park and Zaatari camps. Major parts of the training will be language training and computer classes. For girls in Za’atari camp in particular, self-paced learning programs using tablets connected to a digital library server is conducted, which can be tailored to meet the needs of individual learners. In particular, the project aims to transfer tools and skills to vulnerable children and young refugees in order to improve learning, employability and school-to-work transitions. The main objective of the programme is to increase access to skills training and recreational activities to enable refugees strengthen their resilience to shock, in order to better cope with their future.

The following outcomes are expected:

• Syrian refugees in the camp settings will build their skills;

• Participation in the skills training and recreational activities will help with psychosocial support for the refugees.

Livelihoods and social protection programmes are crucial to protect children from physical and sexual violence, child labour, child marriage and recruitment by armed groups which are exacerbated by limited access to basic services, lack of legal documentation, protracted displacement and restrictions on livelihood opportunities for adults within the household. Enhancing access to education and employability will protect vulnerable children and their families from the perilous journey across the Mediterranean and support them in the construction of their life project.

UNHCR has identified seven principal factors behind the recent spike in the number of Syrian refugees from the MENA region seeking asylum in Europe, based on surveys, focus group discussions, and daily interaction with refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq. Lack of livelihood opportunities and limited education opportunities were cited as 2 of the main pulling factors. Indeed the Syrian society put a high value on education and now they are seeing their children out of school: prior the crisis, 94 per cent of primary-age children were attending school and Syrian literacy rate surpassed the regional average. It means that the project “Skills training and recreational activities for Syrian Refugees in Jordan” will not only enhance access to education, but it will also protect those vulnerable children and their families from the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

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