Educating Syrian refugees in Jordan

Principal Maha Salim Al-Ashkar had to apologize to a Syrian mom because she was not able to enroll her child at the primary school in the suburbs of Amman, Jordan.

“I don’t have space,” she told the mother. This Syrian crisis has added tens of thousands of students to Jordan’s overflowing classrooms. Khawla Bint Tha’alba Elementary School for Girls was no exception.

However, the mother would not give up. She had already been rejected from many schools so the principal compromised with her.

“I will register your daughter, if you bring a chair for her,” the principal concluded.

From then on, Principal Al-Ashkar refused to deny any refugee student from the school she’s headed for 10 years. Parents bring plastic chairs with their children so they would have a place to learn.

“After I accepted a large number of Syrian students, there was an increase in the numbers,” she says in a video produced by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “The main problem that we faced is that the Jordanian students already filled the school’s capacity.”

Khawla Bint Tha’alba Elementary School for Girls has 356 students with 65 Syrian students thanks to the principal’s efforts. However, the problem is not solved here. Though students are receiving an education, it is quite tough to integrate them into the classroom. Many of them faced traumatic experiences and need special counseling and care.

“We had some Syrian students with psychological trauma,” Ms. Maha says. “One of the students came from an area that had been bombed, so she was fearful. There is another student who lost her father.”

USAID funds schools like this in Jordan. They support instructor training and remedial programs.

Many advocacy organizations are calling this Syrian civil war one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. It has resulted in more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees around the world. Most refugees flee to neighboring countries like Jordan, a country in which about 635,000 Syrian refugees currently live.

“I really love my school, and I also love my students,” Principal Maha says. “And I think love is giving as much as you can, by helping and supporting them to take away their hurt.”

Article via Mashable, March 08, 2016

Photo: Jordan Camp Host to Thousands of Syrian Cross-Border Refugees via United Nations Photo [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Syrian refugees need $9 billion in aid

Aid to Syria’s refugees of the ongoing war has gradually declined over the years, but Syria reached out to the world for a request of nearly $9 billion this year.

As Syrians migrate, host countries with limited resources have struggled to support vast population increases. The situation is made even more difficult as donor countries continue to cut back on contributions.

World leaders, international officials, and aid agencies attended the donor conference in London early this month to discuss the total aid requirement. The requirement amounts to almost $9 billion, which includes a U.N.-coordinated appeal for $7.73 billion and a $1.23 billion request by host governments. The remaining portion is needed in the next few years by countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to support the 4.6 million refugees they are hosting.

Although the underfunding of last year’s $7 billion appeal led to cuts in food aid, optimism remains for this year’s appeal. Apart from the necessities, donors are also requested to provide long-term plans such as jobs and education.

“We think we need to make a step change now from simply the tradition model of passing the hat around for the international donor community,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.

The majority of Syrian refugees cannot work legally, giving them no choice but to work informal jobs. The influx of Syrians has also caused wages in Jordan and Lebanon to fall.

Donors are encouraged to invest in infrastructure projects such as schools and roads, which will create short-term jobs for refugees. Meanwhile, The World Bank is helping host countries with cheap loans. Although Jordan has refused to borrow money, they are open to zero-interest financing to provide for development programs that had been on hold for years.

One of the biggest goals of the conference is to provide all refugee children an education by the end of 2017. Currently, more than half of refugee children are out of school.

Despite the new plans, donors and hosts have faced the truth that most refugees live in poverty; Families have had to remove their children from school due to the lack funds, since they are banned from legal jobs. Host countries like Jordan have become more strict with Syrian entries, leaving 20,000 in the deserts.

“What we are witnessing now is a total collapse of international solidarity with millions of war victims,” Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council said.

Article via Syria needs nearly $9 billion in humanitarian aid, 3 February 2016
Photo: Bread distribution inside Syria by IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s photo stream  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Facebook provides Syrian refugees Internet access

Facebook and the United Nations are working together to provide Internet access to Syrian refugees as they seek resettlement. Web access in refugee camps will help those living there communicate with family and utilize support from aid communities, according to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook is also constructing satellites and aircraft that will beam Internet connections to remote villages and towns, similar to Google’s project that accomplishes the same goal with high-altitude balloons. Critics to the program say that both companies are providing Internet access for selfish purposes, as both Facebook and Google profit from expanding their user base.

Facebook’s non-profit organization Internet.org is also under attack. Internet.org seeks to provide Internet access to developing countries, and was launched in India on Friday. Several Internet companies withdrew from the program because they saw the organization as a threat to Net neutrality, which guarantees that all websites are equally accessible.

Zuckerberg will be holding a town hall-style discussion with India’s prime minister this Sunday in defense of the non-profit. He says that by expanding Internet access, companies like Facebook and Google can create 140 million new jobs.

Article via CNETSeptember 26, 2015

Photo: Relief Effort for Syrian Refugees via IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]