Since June 2012, 29 schools have been rehabilitated with SDC support mainly in the north of Jordan and in the districts of Amman, where many Syrian refugees are located. The schools have been furnished and renovated according to child-friendly criteria, including improved sanitary facilities. This has enabled 25,000 Jordanian and Syrian pupils between the ages of 9 to 17 to enjoy a normal teaching environment.
A second phase of the project is ongoing and will cover another group of 28 state schools. To this end, the SDC is working closely with the Jordanian Ministry of Education which is dealing with a highly critical situation.
More than half a million refugees
The Syrian crisis has had many negative repercussions on the Jordanian education sector, including the overcrowding of classrooms because of the arrival of Syrian pupils. More than half a million Syrians have fled to Jordan since the outbreak of the crisis, at least half of whom are children and young people. Numerous schools are being used as temporary shelters to accommodate refugees, and many Syrian youngsters have not attended school for months. Given the ongoing crisis and its long-term consequences, it is expected that the refugees will stay in Jordan for a considerable time. The integration of Syrian youth into the education system is therefore a priority.
The healthy, protective and child-friendly environment created by the school rehabilitation efforts supported by the SDC are providing much-needed relief. In addition, school bags and stationary provided free of charge are easing the financial burden borne by families and preventing child labour.
“Bright and shiny!”
Bushra, a young refugee girl from Daraa, a city in the south-west of Syria near the border with Jordan, is enthusiastic about the rehabilitated school where she can study again: “I am very happy at school: it’s so pretty, all bright and shiny!”
Mahmoud Khatib, the principal of a boys’ school in Ramtha, is also full of praise for the project: “Our school has been extensively improved: repairs to the central heating system, the electricity network, and the renovation of its sanitary facilities have improved the general atmosphere at the school. We have also run a campaign to raise the pupils’ awareness by involving them in maintaining the school and keeping it in good condition.”
Based on this successful experience, the SDC decided to pursue and expand the rehabilitation work to another 28 state schools to benefit 24,000 students. Rehabilitation work will once again be conducted in partnership with the Jordanian Ministry of Education and co-funded by the Principality of Liechtenstein.
The SDC and the Jordanian authorities have jointly identified the second group of schools to be rehabilitated. The selection was made on the basis of a newly-created database on the state of the schools which was developed with the support of the SDC.
Compassion for their Syrian schoolmates
Another piece of good news is that the integration of Syrian schoolchildren is taking place without any major incident. In the Lamees Binamro School in Amman none of the Jordanian pupils seem to mind having to make room for new schoolmates in their school. “Of course, we had to adjust to their presence but we are interested in hearing their stories and we feel compassionate”, explains 17-year-old Renad Abu-Jamous.
Khwla Al-Zobedi, the principal of the school, began enrolling Syrian pupils when the nearby school for Syrian girls had exhausted its capacity. “At the very beginning I was a little bit worried, but the Syrian students proved to be very motivated and committed, and their Jordanian peers appreciate that.” The educator goes on to explain that many Syrian parents are very keen for their daughters to enrol in her school. “They want their children to study in a safe environment.”