04-04-2017, UNICEF MENA | Delegations from 70 countries, international organisations and civil society are gathered at the Brussels ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’ Conference on 4-5 April, to assess where the international community stands in fulfilling commitments made at the London Conference in February 2016, and to agree on additional efforts.
At the London ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ Conference in February 2016, ambitious education goals were set for Syria and the five host countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt) to get every child in school and avoid a lost generation with a total ask of US$1.4 billion per year. One year after London, progress in education is measurable – thanks to commendable efforts by governments and partners.
Inside Syria, there was a decrease in the number of out-of-school children from 2.12 million (40 per cent) to 1.75 million (32 per cent) between the 2014/15 and the 2015/16 school years.
In the five host countries, there was a decrease in the number of out-of-school refugee children from 630,500 (45 per cent) in December 2015 to 534,500 (34 per cent) in December 2016. Progress was also reported on the provision of education opportunities to host community children affected by the crisis.
In 2016, an amount of US$618 million was received from donors for the education sector. Though still falling short of the London ask, the received funding in 2016 was higher than in 2015 (US$460 million). A noticeable impetus was created after London in terms of frontloading financial resources, and many donors have committed several years of funding to education.
During the February 2016 London ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ Conference, the No Lost Generation partners recognized that efforts to support the education of Syrian children and youth were not sufficient, and they set ambitious goals: All out-of-school children and youth inside Syria and all Syrian refugee children and youth in the five host countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt), together with affected host community children and youth, were to be provided with education through a total ask of US$1.4 billion per year.
The Syria Crisis Education Strategic Paper, presented in London, outlined key strategic shifts to address the scale and challenges of this protracted crisis. These were articulated around the three pillars of education system strengthening, access and quality. The principle behind them is that education interventions occur along an emergency-to-resilience continuum and represent longer term ‘investments for the future’ while addressing the immediate needs related to the crisis. Furthermore, the strategic shifts are in line with the Sustainable Development Goal Four on education (SDG4) towards ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.
One year after London, progress in education is measurable – thanks to commendable efforts by governments and partners. Inside Syria, there was a decrease in the number of out-of-school children from 2.12 million (40 per cent) to 1.75 million (32 per cent) between the 2014/15 and the 2015/16 school years. In the five host countries, there was a 15 per cent decrease in the number of out-of-school refugee children, from a total of 630,500 (45 per cent) in December 2015 to a total of 534,500 (34 per cent) in December 2016.
The London education strategic shifts concretely translated into a more effective education response architecture inside Syria, and strengthened public education systems in the five host countries with nationally mainstreamed refugee response plans, policy frameworks and data collection instruments. Access strategies validated pathways from non-formal to formal education and enhanced community engagement together with social protection programmes and child protection support mechanisms.
In 2016, the total funding requirement for education in Syria and the five host countries was US$866 million. By the end of the year, an amount of US$618 million was received from donors for the education sector, representing 71 per cent of the total requirement and an increase of US$158 million from 2015. More commendable is that 54 per cent of the funds received for 2016 were available to the education sector in the first half of the year, allowing for more effective planning and implementation.
Despite such progress, substantial challenges remain. Around 2.3 million Syrian children and youth are still out of school and a large number are at risk of dropping out. Vulnerable families draw upon negative coping mechanisms which impact on girls’ education. Low access rates to post-basic education, including technical, vocational education and training and tertiary education, are a grave concern. Syrian youth aged 15 to 24 years lack perspectives of meaningful livelihoods. The provision of quality education with a focus on attendance, learning outcomes, life skills acquisition and social cohesion, together with safety and security, remains timid and scattered. Multi-sectoral approaches to education need more attention. Funding to education continues to be far from the London US$1.4 billion ask and needs to be further sustained, predictable and timely.
Gathering in Amman, Jordan, on 23 March 2017, education officials and stakeholders from Syria and the five host countries, as well as regional and global partners, commended the education progress made in the context of the Syria crisis, reviewed critically the remaining tasks, and agreed to send to Brussels a renewed and firm commitment to the ambitious goals of London, especially on learning, together with a message of hope for a better future for all children and youth in the region.