400,000 Syr­ian chil­dren not in school in Turkey

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

IS­TAN­BUL: More than 400,000 Syr­ian chil­dren liv­ing in Turkey are not in school, largely be­cause of financial hard­ship, a plight which could push more refugees into mak­ing a des­per­ate jour­ney to Europe or even re­turn­ing to their war-torn home­land, Hu­man Rights Watch said in a re­port Mon­day. It called on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and Turkey to act ur­gently to en­sure Syr­i­ans who have fled the four-and-a-half year con­flict have greater ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion.

“Fail­ing to pro­vide Syr­ian chil­dren with ed­u­ca­tion puts an en­tire gen­er­a­tion at risk,” said Stephanie Gee of HRW’s refugee rights pro­gram. “With no real hope for a bet­ter fu­ture, des­per­ate Syr­ian refugees may end up putting their lives on the line to re­turn to Syria or take dan­ger­ous jour­neys to Europe.” The UN refugee agency said last week it ex­pected up to 600,000 mi­grants and refugees to risk the cross­ing from Turkey to Greece over the next four months alone. Financial hard­ship was a ma­jor ob­sta­cle pre­vent­ing Syr­ian chil­dren go­ing to class in Turkey, HRW said, with refugees not per­mit­ted to work le­gally and of­ten un­able to af­ford any school fees or trans­port charges.

‘Child la­bor ram­pant’

“Par­ents are of­ten un­able to pro­vide for their fam­i­lies on the min­i­mal in­come they make in the in­for­mal la­bor mar­ket, and as a re­sult child la­bor is ram­pant among the Syr­ian refugee pop­u­la­tion.” Many were also un­able to at­tend school be­cause of the lan­guage bar­rier, while oth­ers faced bul­ly­ing and so­cial in­te­gra­tion dif­fi­cul­ties and in some cases they were even turned away, HRW said. In to­tal, nearly three mil­lion chil­dren are out of school both in­side and out­side Syria, a coun­try where once pri­mary school en­rol­ment was al­most 100 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates from the UN chil­dren’s agency UNICEF. More than four mil­lion Syr­i­ans have fled the con­flict since March 2011, with the num­ber of dead es­ti­mated at more than 250,000.

Turkey, which is host­ing more than 2.2 mil­lion refugees alone, last year agreed to grant Syr­ian chil­dren ac­cess to pub­lic schools and to au­tho­rize tem­po­rary ed­u­ca­tion cen­ters set up by char­i­ties or other or­ga­ni­za­tions. But out of a to­tal of 708,000 school-age chil­dren from Syria, only 212,000 were en­rolled in for­mal pri­mary or sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion last year, HRW said, quot­ing Turk­ish ed­u­ca­tion min­istry fig­ures. Al­though the en­rol­ment rate in­side refugee camps was nearly 90 per­cent, most Syr­i­ans live in towns and ci­ties across Turkey and there the rate was only 25 per­cent, it said.

Turkey has al­ready spent more than $7 bil­lion (6.5 bil­lion eu­ros) on the Syr­ian refugee cri­sis since 2011, and $252 mil­lion on ed­u­ca­tion in 2014-2015 alone, Hu­man Rights Watch said. The ed­u­ca­tion min­istry said last month it aimed to have 270,000 Syr­ian chil­dren in school by Jan­uary and 370,000 by the end of the 20152016 school year. “Se­cur­ing th­ese chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion will re­duce the risks of early mar­riage and mil­i­tary re­cruit­ment of chil­dren by armed groups, sta­bi­lize their eco­nomic fu­ture by in­creas­ing their earn­ing po­ten­tial, and en­sure that to­day’s young Syr­i­ans will be bet­ter equipped to con­front un­cer­tain fu­tures,” HRW said.

ALEPPO: Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces walk on a heav­ily dam­aged street in the regime­con­trolled side of the north­ern city of Aleppo yes­ter­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.