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Jordan leads the way in providing refugee children access to education — UNHCR report


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — As many refugee students in Jordan completed their first week back at school, the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, on Thursday released a global report warning about the continued threat of the coronavirus to refugee education.  
 Titled “Coming Together for Refugee Education”, the report urges the international community to take “immediate and bold action” to prevent the potential catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on refugee education, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 
Jordan, however, is mentioned as one of the countries that continue to lead the way in ensuring that refugees can get an education. 
Included within the national education system, last year 136,000 out of a potential 233,000 school-aged Syrian refugee children were enrolled in formal education and over 200 schools continue to operate a two-shift system. 
“Collectively, there have been many efforts to ensure there is no lost generation such as through the inclusion of so many refugee children in Jordanian public schools,” commented UNHCR Representative in Jordan Dominik Bartsch. 
“With the coronavirus, the start of this school year presents additional challenges, but in education, there remains hope,” he said.
UNHCR Jordan has also recently announced its DAFI Scholarship scheme for refugee students seeking scholarships to begin university this academic year. 
With applications opening on September 6, and funded by the German government and the Said and Asfari Foundations, the DAFI scholarship in Jordan has already provided over 800 refugee students access to higher education since 2007.  
 The potential of refugee students is huge. This year 1,670 Syrian refugee youth in Jordan passed their Tawjihi (the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination); 154 of whom achieved grades of 95 per cent or higher. But globally only 3 per cent of refugee youth have access to higher education.  
In addition to scholarships, in Jordan, partnerships with universities and higher education institutions have been a key mechanism for increasing the ability of refugee students in Jordan to go to the  university.
This year, partnerships with Al Bayt University, Tafila Technical University, the Hashemite University and Al Ahliyya Amman University, are offering subsidised fees for refugee students rather than having them pay the high cost of the foreigner rate.  
 Adapting to the limitations imposed by COVID19 has been especially tough for 85 per cent of the world’s refugees who live in developing countries. 
Mobile phones, tablets, laptops and Internet connectivity are not readily available. 
In Jordan, an estimated 23 per cent of Syrian refugees have no Internet access at home, while two-thirds rely on limited data packages. 
 “Half of the world’s refugee children were already out of school,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, commenting on the launch of the UNHCR’s Global Education Report. 
“After everything they have endured, we cannot rob them of their futures by denying them an education today. Despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, with greater international support to refugees and their host communities, we can expand innovative ways to protect the critical gains made in refugee education over the past years.” 
 In Jordan, efforts to support e-learning and innovative education initiatives continue as children return to the classroom through programmes such as the Kolibri platform, which is aligned with the Jordanian curriculum. 
UNHCR Jordan continues to work closely with the Ministries of Education and Higher Education, as well as UNICEF, other UN Agencies and local NGO partners to secure the education and futures of refugee children.

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