Civil War Keeps Many Syrian Children From School

    25 September, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    The United Nations Children's Fund(UNICEF) is appealing to international donors to help provide education money for Syrian school children. Safe places to learn, teachers and supplies are all lacking, and almost two million young Syrian students have dropped out of school.

    UNICEF says about 40 percent of students in grades one to nine across the nation no longer attend for more classes. UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says about half those are now refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.

    "Thirty months into the conflict, children are becoming increasingly afraid, angry and frustrated. The risk of a lost generation becomes more acute with each day that they are out of school."

    In the northern city of Aleppo, for example, only 6 percent of children of school-age are in classrooms, but the school year there and in other locations begin as planned on September 15.

    Talk of military strike by the United States has caused uncertainty about starting classes, but schools opened after a strike appeared less likely. Still many children who once walked to school are now taken there by their parents, and other families have simply left the country. Lebanon now is trying to help about 550,000 school-age Syrian refugee children.

    UNICEF says the Lebanese public education system can take care of 300,000 Lebanese children. UNICEF is establishing schools for refugee children in buses.

    In Jordan, UNICEF says about two-thirds of 150,000 Syrian school-age children are not in school. One main refugee camp has 30,000 Syrian children, fewer than half are in school.

    In Iraq, UNICEF says nine out of 10 Syrian refugee children are out of school.

    Inside Syria, Miss Mercado says the educational system has been torn apart. But UNICEF and Syrian government say about 3,000 schools have been damaged or destroyed. In addition, more than 900 schools that are still standing are being used as shelter for displaced families.

    "The fact that there are still children going to school in this context is quite incredible."

    Miss Mercado says the agency is operating programs for children to learn at home. The UNICEF spokeswoman praises what she believes is the huge importance that Syrian parents place on eduction. UNICEF has asked for $161 million from international donors for education. But the agency says it has received only $51 million.

    And that's the Education Report from VOA Learning English. I'm Mario Ritter.