In war-torn Syria, funding for education is the only hope for out-of-school children

published 4 February 2016 updated 5 February 2016

Five years into the Syrian conflict, 2.1 million children have lost their schools, while another 700 thousand are struggling abroad as refugees without access to education.

Before the crisis in Syria began, 12 years of free education were provided by the state, with nearly all primary-aged Syrian children in school and two-thirds of 12-17 year-olds enrolled in secondary education. Today, 2.1 million children in Syria are out of school, while another1.4 million school-aged Syrian refugee children are living in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt; nearly 700,000 of these children are not in school, falling further behind with each passing year.

The lack of education has also led to an increase in child labour and child marriage as Syrian families struggle to make ends meet and  provide their daughters with the security that the war has taken from them.

Preventing a lost generation

The Malala fund, set up by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, has issued the ‘#Notlost – claiming Syria’s future’ report on the impact of war and the refugee crisis on education in Syria. The study highlights how it might soon be too late to reverse the impact of years of missed schooling, as many children who fled the conflict are without their entire secondary education.

The report stresses that while efforts to find a political solution to the conflict continue, investing in Syria’s young people represents the best hope for Syria’s future. Despite this, the gap between funding required and funding received for education in Syria grows larger every year. Donors provided just 37 percent of the education funding needed in 2015.

A matter of political will

Governments in the region are opening their doors and their schools to Syrian children but are being left to bear much of the cost, as donors – some of the wealthiest countries in the world – fail to match their commitment. Without increased funding over the next three years, the report warns, governments in the region will not be able to make the policy changes necessary to sustain and expand their support for Syrian refugee children.

With political will, adequate funding and bold changes in policy, the report states, challenge is achievable. The paper focuses on the funding required to support education for Syrian children inside and outside Syria and the further action necessary by governments of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt to get all Syrian refugee children into education and learning.

The Fund is calling on global donors and governments in the region to guarantee all Syrian children impacted by the conflict access to quality education in the 2016/2017 school year and beyond. The trust has estimated the cost at $1.4 billion USD a year - $1 USD per child per day.