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In the Syrian Arab Republic, which achieved universal primary enrollment in 2000, the civil war has driven 1.8 million children out of school by 2013. The conflict is Syria is threatening to erase past gains. To address the crisis in opposition-held areas, Chemonics’ Idarah project has developed and rolled out remedial literacy materials, and developed remedial numeracy materials, which will be rolled out by the donor DFID under its multi-year program that begins in January 2018. Idarah has also introduced other quality education activities including training of instructors as coaches for teachers, and guidance to both instructors and headmasters on working with teachers to improve lesson-planning and to tie lesson plans to lesson-specific learning outcomes. We have also introduced psycho-social support activities including training of safeguarding officers assigned to schools to further disseminate trainings to teachers on non-violent classroom management, psycho-social first aid, a code of conduct launched by the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) Ministry of Education; and training of headmasters on how to manage staff care.
Syria follows a 12-year educational system of basic education, which includes grades 1 through 9, and three years of secondary education. Basic education is mandatory for all children, and is divided into two cycles. Secondary school is not compulsory and offers either general education or technical/vocational tracks (see accompanying chart; note that the preparatory school certificate referenced in the diagram refers to the grade 9 exam certificate).
Today, Syria is divided into four main areas: Government controlled areas; areas controlled by the opposition; Kurdish forces; ISIS and its affiliates. There is also a small minority of contested areas. 54% of school aged children are located in Government held areas, 27% are in areas held by the opposition, 6% are in Kurdish held areas, and 9% in ISIS held areas and 2% in contested areas. The impact of the war on education in Syria has been catastrophic. Seven years of war, economic collapse and the marginalisation of vulnerable groups has led to the degradation of the Syrian education system. Before the war, Syria had achieved almost universal enrolment in primary school and one of the region’s highest adult literacy rates. Now, over three million children, or 50% of the total school aged population, are out of school or vulnerable to dropping out.
A large displaced population has put additional pressure on schools that are already overburdened, and fragmented governance structures have struggled to cope. These factors, combined with insufficient international funding for education in Syria, have contributed to a school system without the resources, monitoring and support structures required to meet children’s diverse protection, socio-emotional and educational needs. While in many areas schools have remained open and the demand for education high, even as schools have been directly targeted, most schools are not inclusive of the most vulnerable children and may provide poor quality teaching and learning. The need for quality education that includes child protection, psycho-support and learning is imperative so Syrian children do not fall behind in their education.
System strengthening - Jill Meeks, Chemonics International
Gender and education in Syria - Michele Bradford, Chemonics International
Psycho social support and preventing extremism through youth engagement - Todd Diamond, Chemonics International