IMPACT

More Than Half Of Syrian Refugee Children In Lebanon Are Out Of School

Human Rights Watch urged the education ministry to allow NGOs to help fill the gap,
A Syrian refugee boy plays at an unofficial refugee camp in Lebanon's town of Bar Elias in the Bekaa Valley on May 13, 2016.
A Syrian refugee boy plays at an unofficial refugee camp in Lebanon's town of Bar Elias in the Bekaa Valley on May 13, 2016. Five years into the Syria conflict, Lebanon hosts more than one million refugees from the war-torn country, according to the United Nations. More than a third live in the Bekaa valley near the Syrian border. As towns there strive to accommodate tens of thousands of Syrian arrivals, some local councils are struggling to provide them with burial services because town cemeteries are almost full. / AFP / JOSEPH EID / TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ALICE HACKMAN

BEIRUT, July 19 (Reuters) - More than half of the nearly 500,000 Syrian children registered as refugees in Lebanon are missing out on formal education and a government campaign to increase enrolment has failed to reach its target, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

There are more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, making up a quarter of the country’s population. Since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, nearly 5 million Syrians have fled, including to Turkey, Europe and Jordan.

Lebanon’s education ministry, supported by U.N. and international donors, launched a campaign last year to provide schooling for 200,000 Syrian children. This included setting up a second, afternoon shift of teaching to cope with the higher numbers.

But Human Rights Watch said that nearly 50,000 of those places went unused.

Syrian refugee children, mostly from Hama but have been living in Jordan for three years since fleeing the violence in Syria
Syrian refugee children, mostly from Hama but have been living in Jordan for three years since fleeing the violence in Syria with their families, attend a class in a UNICEF tent in an informal tented settlement in Jordan Valley, near Amman March 14, 2015. March 15 marks the fourth anniversary of peaceful protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that started of the devastating conflict. After a government crackdown, the war has expanded into a civil conflict with regional backers. The conflict has killed some 200,000 people, created more than 3.9 million refugees, mostly in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and displaced 7.6 million people within Syria, U.N. figures show. Picture taken March 14, 2015. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Many Syrian children failed to enroll or dropped out during the year because of inability to afford transport to school or school supplies, a report released by the New York-based watchdog said.

Others were deterred by arbitrary enrolment requirements imposed by individual schools, corporal punishment and language barriers, with classes taught in English and French as under the Lebanese system.

Less than 3 percent of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon aged 15-18 enrolled in public secondary schools in the last academic year, the report said.

HRW urged the education ministry to allow NGOs to provide non-formal education to help fill the gap, and to revise residency requirements which it said were also preventing Syrians’ access to education by restricting freedom of movement and exacerbating poverty.

Syrians must pay $200 a year for legal stay in Lebanon, but many cannot afford the fee, or confine themselves to their camps and do not approach authorities to renew expired residency papers because they fear arrest.

Restricted movement for Syrian adults also means many families rely on their children for income, aid agencies say.

(Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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