18:18 GMT +320 September 2018
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    Syrian  children take lessons in a makeshift school tent in a refugee camp in the town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province (File)

    Jordanian Schools Enroll Undocumented Syrian Refugee Children

    © AFP 2018 / ARIS MESSINIS
    Middle East
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    Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki recently approved a government policy to allow Syrian refugees without identification documents to enroll in government schools.

    Typically, to join the formal education system in Jordan, Syrians have to display special ID cards issued by Jordan's Interior Ministry designating their refugee status. 

    Education Minister Omar Razzaz told Al Rai and The Jordan Times that they made this change "because we do not want anyone to lose their right to education."

    The country's State Minister for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani reaffirmed Razzaz' statement, stating that "in line with our value system in Jordan, we do not accept that any child be left without education."

    When asked whether additional students in schools would lead to overcrowding, Momani explained that the Syrian refugees will attend 200 schools with double shifts that the Ministry of Education recently opened.

    The Ministry of Education will also implement catch-up education programs with accelerated learning programs for children who have missed more than three years of school.

    UNICEF representative Robert Jenkins applauded Jordan's commitment to provide education for Syrian refugee children.

    "We would like to congratulate the government of Jordan for this bold and positive step forwards towards ensuring that every vulnerable girl and boy in Jordan goes to school," Jenkins told The Jordan Times.

    "UNICEF stands by the Ministry of Education in doing everything we can for every child to access quality education and get a fair chance in preparing for a better future for themselves and their families."

    According to official government figures, more than 126,000 Syrian refugees were receiving public school education in Jordan last year, with 80,000 out of school for multiple reasons, including not having the required identification documents. There is currently no official estimate on the number of children who will benefit from the new policy. 

    According to a report by Save the Children International, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, refugee children without access to education are more vulnerable to child marriage and child labor.

    "Education would offer these children a future and help to protect them. When children don't go to school, they are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse," said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children.

    "Schools also provide a safe space to recover from the psychological distress that many who have fled extreme violence have experienced."


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