Almost two years into the Syria crisis, the escalating level of violence is threatening the education of hundreds of thousands of children, a UNICEF assessment says.
One fifth of the country’s schools have suffered direct physical damage or are being used to shelter displaced persons. In cities where the conflict has been most intense, some children have already missed out on almost two years of schooling.
“The education system in Syria is reeling from the impact of violence,” said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Syria Representative. “Syria once prided itself on the quality of its schools. Now it’s seeing the gains it made over the years rapidly reversed.”
UNICEF is currently supporting more than 170 school clubs in Homs, Deraa, Rural Damascus, Tartous, Lattakia, Hama and Quneitra. The clubs allow some 40,000 children to receive remedial education and take part in recreational activities.
The agency is also providing teaching and learning supplies and is rehabilitating damaged schools, but it requires an additional $1 million to keep the clubs open until the end of May.
Funding shortfalls are also preventing the provision of urgently-needed pre-fabricated classrooms, repairs and rehabilitation of learning spaces, and the provision of teaching and learning materials.
Overall, UNICEF needs $20 million for its education programmes in Syria during the first six months of the current year, of which it has received no more than $3 million.
Lack of funding for humanitarian activities remains a major constraint. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today said that of the $519 million requested to respond to the crisis in Syria, only 21% has been received and the $1 billion Refugee Response Plan is 19% funded.
Up to 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011 and more than 900,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries. In addition, 2 million have been internally displaced and over 4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.