GENEVA, March 5 (KUNA) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said
on Tuesday that it needs USD 20 million for its education programs in Syria
during the first six months of current year, of which it has received no more
than USD 3 million.
The Syrian conflict has deprived hundreds of thousands of children of their
education, UNICEF said in a press release, adding that school infrastructure
has been severely damaged, while attendance rates are plummeting.
Almost two years into the Syria crisis, the escalating level of violence is
threatening the education of hundreds of thousands of children, UNICEF noted
in its 2012 education assessment.
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 Youssef Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Syria representative, adding that "Syria once
prided itself on the quality of its schools. Now it's seeing the gains it made
over the years rapidly reversed."
The UNICEF assessment also noted that many parents are now reluctant to
send their children to school, fearing for their safety.
Among other findings in the assessment, at least 2,400 schools have been
damaged or destroyed, including 772 in Idlib, 50 percent of the total, 300 in
Aleppo and another 300 in Daraa, while over 1,500 schools are being used as
shelters for displaced persons.
Furthermore, more than 110 teachers and other staff have been killed and
many others are no longer reporting for work.
In Idlib, for example, teacher attendance is no more than 55 percent, while
in Aleppo; children attendance rate has dropped to as low as 6 percent, and
some schools have been used by armed forces and groups involved in the
The assessment said schools in Idlib, Aleppo, and Daraa, where fighting has
been particularly severe, are among the worst affected. As a result,
schoolchildren are often failing to turn up for class, sometimes attending
only twice a week.
In areas hosting high numbers of displaced families, classes are
overcrowded, sometimes hosting up to 100 students.
"Being in school makes children feel safe and protected and leaves parents
hopeful about their children's future", said Abdel-Jelil, indicating at the
same time "that's why so many parents we talk to single out education as their
Working to address children's learning needs inside Syria, UNICEF is
supporting more than 170 school clubs in Homs, Daraa, Rural Damascus, Tartous,
Lattakia, Hama, and Quneitra. The clubs allow some 40,000 children to receive
much needed remedial education and take part in recreational activities.
UNICEF is also providing teaching and learning supplies, and rehabilitating
damaged schools. However, an additional USD 1 million is needed 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.
UNICEF Syria's priorities in education include providing 1 million children
with school materials, increasing access to education for 150,000 children,
particularly among the internally displaced, providing 300,000 children with
emotional support, and providing pre-fabricated classrooms to increase
attendance and support the resumption of educational activities. (end)
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