A new report exposes a worsening education crisis in Syria, where up to a fifth of all school buildings have been destroyed, militarised, or used as shelters. ShelterBox does what it can by sending SchoolBoxes to refugee camps and displaced communities.
The report, published by international charity Save the Children, makes hard reading. It says that Syria, a country which once had a 100% school enrolment rate, now has 2.8 million children out of school, the second worst attendance rate in the world.
After four years of conflict one in five school buildings has now been destroyed, claimed by the military, or pressed into service as shelter for displaced families. Up to half of children surveyed in Syria reported they were ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ able to concentrate in class.
Worse still, Save the Children reports that Syrian refugee children in neighbouring countries are facing disturbing rates of abuse, bullying, corporal punishment and marginalisation. One in 10 Syrian refugee children across the region is estimated to be working. In Jordan, 47% of refugee families reported relying partly or entirely on their children’s income.
Save the Children’s Regional Director, Roger Hearn says, ‘It is no surprise that, under these conditions, Syrian children are dropping out of school by the day, and the international community has to step up its response to ensure that we do not lose an entire generation of children.’
International disaster relief charity, ShelterBox has been delivering aid in Syria and its neighbouring countries throughout this long conflict, and its response teams have seem the traumatic effect on children time and time again. ShelterBox’s Director of Communications and Fundraising, Becky Maynard, says, ‘In these circumstances we aim to help the whole family, but our hearts go out particularly to the children. Following a natural disaster, at least there is some comfort and hope in knowing that the worst is over. With civil war there is no end in sight, so the psychological effects on young minds can have a worrying permanence.’
‘As a supplement to our emergency shelter and basic supplies, and in addition to the children’s activity packs inside each ShelterBox, we often deploy SchoolBoxes to areas where we know that schools have been destroyed, or to refugee camps where they need to be set up.’
Becky adds, ‘When I deployed to Iraq Kurdistan in 2013 I saw for myself the uplift that schooling, however makeshift, gives to children trapped in refugee camps, and the educational and social benefits that the normality of a school day can bring. In supplying this equipment we are taking some small steps to easing the tragedy of the ‘lost generation.’’
The distinctive red and blue SchoolBoxes contain essential supplies for teachers, including wind-up radios that also charge mobile phones, and school equipment for 50 children. They also include blackboard paint and a brush – these two items alone can transform any flat surface into a focus for learning. School packs, in bright yellow material bags, contain stationery, pens, calculators, drawing and maths equipment. They are often a source of pride for young people who have lost most of their personal possessions.
- The Save the Children report on Education is Syria is here
- More details on SchoolBoxes and other ShelterBox aid is here
- ShelterBox has distributed SchoolBoxes and School Packs in refugee camps in Syria itself and in neighbouring countries such as Iraqi Kurdistan. SchoolBoxes are funded through ShelterBox’s general aid, and cannot be sponsored individually.
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