Struggle to educate Syrian refugee children mounts as funding dries up

published 5 August 2016 updated 12 August 2016

According to a new report released by Theirschool, a pledge made by world leaders to get all refugee Syrian children into school has fallen far short due to an urgent funding gap.

"This report raises the alarm that there is insufficient funding to get all Syrian children into school,” said the report author, Kevin Watkins, executive director of the Overseas Development Institute. “These children have lost their homes, their friends, their schools, their relatives.”

With less than two months remaining before the beginning of the 2016-17 school year the Syrian education system lies in tatters, and  more than $1 billion USD is needed to provide the overwhelming number of refugee children, either displaced within Syria or living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, such as Turkey and Lebanon access education. Many fear that if funding requirements fail to be met, the children will be at risk of child labour, early marriage, exploitation, and recruitment by extremist groups, the report warns.

Education gap risks creating a lost generation

The funding pledges, which were made in February at the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London, have gone unfulfilled. Following pledges totalling 12 billion USD, with $1.4 billion ear marked for education, the conference committed “to ensure that these financial pledges are honoured promptly.” However, only a mere $400 thousand USD for education has been received months after the largest pledge made in one day toward a humanitarian crisis. What was supposed to provide education to one million refugees now barely scratches the surface.

In jeopardy is the greater promise to educate 2.7 million so-called vulnerable refugee children in host communities by the end of the 2016-2017 school year, as well helping provide increased access to learning for 2.1 million out-of-school children in Syria.

The expected funding shortfall means that nearly a million Syrian refugee children remain out of school in neighbouring countries while the greater threat of a generation without an education looms large.