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Finding places in Jordan’s schools for Syrian refugee children

85,000 Syrian children are now registered for school in Jordan
85,000 Syrian children are now registered for school in Jordan

As the number of Syrian refugee children rises, schools in neighbouring countries are struggling to cope.

Due to the ongoing Syrian conflict, around 600,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Jordan. The country has a small population of just 6.5 million and the influx of Syrians is putting a huge strain on resources. The international community is doing its best to support Jordan with financial assistance, but there is a shortfall. A Jordanian government minister said the country had already spent around 1.7 billion dollars in responding to help the refugees and would need to invest another 870 million more on capital projects over the coming year. Recently, the king of Jordan warned that unless the international community helped his nation “shoulder the burdens of the Syrian crisis”, Jordan would have to “take measures to protect the interest of our people and country”.

Aid agencies are covering most of the costs of supplying the needs of refugees based in camps such as Za’atari, which is home to around 100,000 refugees. However, the majority of Syrians have settled in towns and cities. As well as additional government expenditure on infrastructure to supply extra water and electricity, the Jordanian nation is therefore incurring costs to provide refugees with access to free health care and education.

Laying on extra school classes

The school age population in Jordan is around 1.3 million and the nation’s school system is struggling to absorb around 85,000 Syrian pupils who are now registered for school. The United Nations aims to direct a large chunk of the 5 billion dollars it is trying to raise for the Syria crisis towards supporting the learning needs of these children.

A recent Guardian article highlights the measures being taken to cope with the influx of Syrian pupils. For example, in the city of Irbid, close to the Syrian border, nearly 80 schools have introduced two daily teaching sessions to cater for all the extra children. To provide for the double shifts, schools have hired many extra teachers over the past couple of years. But to meet the demand, the UN’s child agency (UNICEF) says 100 schools need to run double shifts. UNICEF is also conscious of the need for more school staff and is funding teacher training courses.

Jordan and the international community are determined to ensure that the conflict in Syria does not leave an entire generation of ‘lost’ children who have missed out on their education. Many Syrian children also require the normality of attending school to help recover from the trauma of their experiences. But meeting the demand for school places and other public services will be a huge challenge and unless Jordan receives the financial assistance it needs, the country may be forced to close its borders.

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