Education in Syrian Refugee Camps

 

Abstract

 

 

In March of 2011, a group of children and teens were caught writing political graffiti on a building. President Bashar ah-Assad had them arrested, tortured, and even killed one boy (CNN, 2018). This sparked an outrage among the Syrians and demanded that the children be released. Many acts like this, along with peaceful protests, were happening all over the country of Syria against President Bashar ah-Assad. What all started as peaceful protests to get more rights to their freedom, a better economy, lower unemployment rates, and suffering from a drought, turned into a full-fledged civil war (Marks, 2018). This civil war in Syria started in 2011 with no end in sight. Air strikes from the Presidents force, targeting schools and hospitals both places holding children own their own country. The children of Syria’s future. The war has displaced millions of children and cut off their access to education. Kolstad states in her article that 2.08 million children are out of school with 40 percent of schools in Syria are destroyed, under attack, or used as shelters (Kolstad, 2018).  5.6 million Syrians have fled to surrounding countries to try to get a safer and better life. However, schools in refugee camps aren’t much better than the ones in Syria. No supplies, no area to hold the school, and no trained teachers in most of the camps. Education is a fundamental right to all humans no matter the circumstances. The children of Syria are going to be a lost generation if nothing is done to help. Countries whom are wealthier and are stable enough to help, such as the United States and the United Nations, should focus more of their time and money on the lack of education and lack of opportunity to a school in refugee camps rather than the war inside Syria. Who knows, maybe a better education could have possibly prevented the civil war in Syria.

President Bashar ah-Assad became president in 2000 after his father passed away. In the beginning, Assad made a 45-minute televised speech saying that is hearing the people’s complaints and needs, but never made any concrete changes which defiantly didn’t help his popularity (CNN, 2018). Soon countries, including the U.S, started imposing sanctions against Syrian officials and abolishing trade agreements with Syria. Everyone around the world knows that what the Syrian government is doing is wrong and is hearing the country’s cry for help. CNN states in an article saying that “The Gulf Cooperation Council announces its member states are pulling their ambassadors from the capital of Syria, Damascus, and expelling Syrian ambassadors in their countries.” (CNN, 2018). The United

Syrian boy seeking shelter
Syrian boy seeking shelter from the war around him 

States also removed and shut down their embassy in Damascus. With many countries wanting nothing to do with Syria, the battle within the country grew. There were four main factors of fighting groups in Syria. Kurdish forces, ISIS, Jasih al Fateh, and the Assad regime. Thankfully, ISIS has now lost most of their territory (CNN, 2018). President Assad was a major problem among the people but so was the ongoing religious conflicts. Most Syrians are Sunni Muslims, while the Syrian government is mainly dominated by members who are Shia Alawite (Marks,2018). So if the thought of the government treatment towards the people was bad, the government and the people of Syria have 2 completely different religions who buttheads on top of all that.

 

Many people don’t remember what Syria was like before the war. Syria was a vibrant place, rich with history and diversity. Markets along the streets, filled with clothing of vibrant colors. The country had something called a “souk”. Souks were areas inside major cities that people fought for a spot to sell their spices, jewelry or clothing (Saleh, 2014). Syria was a major hot spot for weaving and textiles done with ancient weaving techniques. Saleh interviewed a girl named Tara. Tara stated, “Syrians are old fashioned, they welcome anyone in who knocks on their door. They are very generous, and you see that when you meet them”.  Syria is also a melting pot for all types of religion. Saleh states that Tara is Orthodox Christian and her fiancé is Sunni Muslim and that mixed marriages were very popular (Saleh,2014). Syria is also a huge hotspot destination in the middle east with Mosques, Roman ruins, and castles built during the Crusades. Emad Nor Eldeen (2018), wrote his own personal story about being a tour guide in Syria. Eldeen was a tour guide for 2 decades showing Syria’s rich diversity and history of the once civilization center of the middle east. Eldeen was leaving his office one day when he was caught in a crossfire and one of his knees was shot and shattered by a sniper bullet.  After that, he and his family decided to flee Syria to Egypt. Months after, not with a prosthetic knee, Eldeen watched video footage of his street completely destroyed.

Eldeen and his family were not the only ones to flee. More than 5.6 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan (Marks, 2018). Having millions of people run to your country for safety and a place to live puts a lot of stress onto a country who at times can’t even afford to help their own people. Syrians make up 10 percent of Jordan’s population, 25 percent of Lebanon’s population, and 3 percent of Turkey’s population (Beste, 2015). Khalil Ashawi interviewed a 14-year-old from Syria for an article about what school was like during the war in Syria. He says that he has to “walk down several steps into a hole on the ground to get to his school”, “We sit on the ground and often we don’t see clearly because it is dark”. They hold underground classrooms because it is overall safer from attacks and air strikes from the planes that never leave the sky.  He, among other children who had the chance to still go to school, did this because above ground, their school was destroyed and blown to bits (Ashawi, 2016).  Many families fleeing the country to get a better life for their children are realizing the education isn’t much better in refugee camps.

One of the largest refugee camps in Jordan is called Za’atari. Since the war, 1.3 million Syrians have crossed the border to Jordan, which has put a lot of stress on the country to take care of them with resources and an education (Summers, 2017). Sadly, to provide for their family, very young children are forced to work so they can survive. The Jordanian government decided to tackle this crisis by 50,000 new public school places for refugee children. However, only less than half of what they promised has been actually taken up and only 24,542 Syrian kids living in Jordan enrolled in some form of school (Summers, 2017). Finding trained teachers has been very hard. There is such a wide range of kids needing education. Some never going to school, some being out of school for 4 years, and then you have the much older teens. Children refugees who have tried to enroll in Jordanian schools have dropped out because it was too hard for them and they were getting bullied (Summers, 2017).  “At the Za’atari camp, there are only 15 schools for a population of 80,000” Summer says. Safety is also an issue for young girls walking to and from a school who is reportedly being harassed.

Education is such an important and vital necessity to have. It’s a right for all humans and it can open up so many doors and opportunities. The children in these refugee camps could be our future doctors, lawyers, mathematicians, and scientist. But sadly, with no opportunity to go to school, no books or supplies, these young children don’t know what they are capable of.


References

1. Ashawi, K. (2016, June 27). Going to school in Syria. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from http://wos-education.org/going-to-school-in-syria
2. Balsom, S., & Farley, M. (2018, April 2). As Lebanon Educates Syrian Refugee Kids, the Clooneys Step In To Help. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/lebanon-educates-syrian-refugee-kids-clooneys-step-help/34208
3. Beste, A. (2015, December 14). Education in Emergencies: Will Syrian Refugee Children Become a ‘Lost Generation’? – Our World. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/education-in-emergencies-will-syrian-refugee-children-become-a-lost-generation
4. Eldeen, E. (2018, April 23). “I was a tour guide in Syria – here’s what it was like before the war.” Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-civil-war-before-life-assad-regime-tourism-travel-a8317676.html
5. Five things you never knew about Syria before the war. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.news.com.au/world/five-things-you-never-knew-about-syria-before-the-war/news-story/50aee87307f613edcd8505f7bce12d0b
6. Going to school in Syria. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://wos-education.org/going-to-school-in-syria
7. Kolstad, K. (2018, April 26). Accessing education in the midst of the Syria crisis. Retrieved October 3, 2018, from https://www.nrc.no/news/2018/april/accessing-education-in-the-midst-of-the-syria-crisis/
8. Library, C. N. N. (2018, May 3). Syrian Civil War Fast Facts. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/27/world/meast/syria-civil-war-fast-facts/index.html
9. Marks, J. (2018, September 14). Why Is There a Civil War in Syria? – HISTORY. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.history.com/news/syria-civil-war-assad-rebels
10. Saleh, S. (2014, March 9). Five things you never knew about Syria before the war. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.news.com.au/world/five-things-you-never-knew-about-syria-before-the-war/news-story/50aee87307f613edcd8505f7bce12d0b

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