Press Release: $250million Secured for Syrian Refugee Education

An urgent plan to ensure one million Syrian refugee children are in school by the end of 2016 has secured more than $250million dollars of new funding from the EU and regional donors, public and private.

The bold proposal – put forward in the United Nations Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) 2016-2017 – aims to offer primary and secondary education to one million refugee children in the region this year.

Latest official figures show there have been more than 1.3 million Syrian refugee boys and girls in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and Jordan. Over 500,000 school-age children are already accessing education. The UN appeal for Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan calls for $750million in 2016 to provide education for well over one million refugees in these countries.

The funds are urgently needed with more refugee children on the streets and child marriage rates already doubling among Syrian refugee girls. A recent survey estimates one in three boys and girls have become child labourers, often working illegally in unsafe conditions.

The plan to provide places in school for one million children builds on a successful pilot project in Lebanon under which 207,000 Syrian refugees have gone to school under a double-shift system.

The humanitarian plan, part of the No Lost Generation campaign for education for children impacted by the crisis, can be achieved quickly by the innovative use of existing schools, with Syrian children learning in the afternoon in the same classroom and buildings that locals use in the morning.

New funding will cover the costs of education for several hundred thousands of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. But it is only the first instalment in the plan to raise $750million. The aim is to move beyond one million to reach universal education for refugees by 2017.

Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education said today:

“The death voyages to Europe will not fall but soar in 2016 as long as Syria’s six million displaced children and two million refugee children are exploited and denied any opportunity within the region.

“Child marriage rates among Syrian refugee girls have dramatically doubled from 12 per cent to 26 per cent and one survey suggested that one in every three boys and girls are now working as child labourers in the black economy. Unless we can provide chances for children, every day new families will decide the only hope for their children’s future is to leave for Europe.

“To end the exodus and exploitation it is now urgent we agree a plan that will this year guarantee one million Syrian refugee boys and girls not just food and shelter but the chance of schooling.

“We have reached our first milestone – the first instalment in hitting our target that every refugee child is offered their right to education by 2017.

“During my discussions with leaders of the Gulf countries, they have reassured me that they see the vital need to support the effort to get one million into school and they want to help. We now have a comprehensive plan backed by key donors.

“The plan has a wider significance as it is part of a vision to provide schooling for the world’s record number of displaced and refugee children – 30 million in total – by creating a new Humanitarian Operation for the Provision of Education in Emergencies: HOPE.

“Universal education is an impossibility unless we can meet the needs of children in conflict.

“From 2000 to 2008 the number of out-of-school primary and lower secondary children’s numbers fell from 200million to 115million. But since then numbers have stalled and recently risen to nearly 125million because of cuts in aid during the global recession and the dramatic rise in displaced children resulting from conflict.

“Syria, where most children were in school before the civil war, is the biggest test case of all because six million children are now displaced from their homes.

“The average time out of a country for a refugee is well over a decade and if we do nothing some children may reach adulthood without ever enjoying their first day at school. It is well known that the longer a child is out of school the more difficult it is to persuade them to come back in.

“What is the most ambitious humanitarian plan for education in a conflict zone can be achieved quickly by the use of double-shift schooling supported by other psychosocial and catch-up programmes. Double-shifting is cost effective – approximately $500 per child – and affordable because existing school buildings are being utilised.

Mr Brown reiterated his pledge to try and achieve the goal of getting the million refugee children back into school. He added: ‘In the next month, with events at the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos and the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in early February, we will try to raise the additional $500million to meet our target for 2016.”

Fact Sheet

Data is based on United Nations 3RP Regional Refugee Response Plan 2016-17 (Published December 2015)

  • ~$750 million needed this year for Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan for over 1 million Syrian refugees.
  • There are more than 1.3 million school-age (5-17 years old) Syrian children in the five 3RP countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt).
  • 48% (or 667,000) school-age refugee children are accessing education – this includes 207,000 in Lebanon’s double-shift schools as well as the double-shift schools in Turkey and Jordan
  • 52% of refugee children (or 708,000) are out of school

Target for 2016 in the United Nations 3RP Regional Response Plan:

  •           Formal primary or secondary school: 999,7000 children, girls and boys ages 5-17, enrolled in formal education.
  •           Early Childhood: Enroll 84,100 children (under 5 years old, boys and girls) enrolled in early childhood education.
  •           Supplemental Programs: Provide additional and supplemental non-formal, informal and life skills education for over 700,000 children.
  •           Construct, renovate and rehabilitate: Over 1,121 educational facilities
  •           Skills Training: Help 278,300 youth, adolescents, and adults (male and female) accessing vocational training or higher education
  •           Education Personnel: Train nearly 100,000 educational personnel (precise number: 99,900)