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SERGI CÁMARA ©photo

Before the pandemic, half of all refugee minors received no education. The consequences of what will happen after Covid are still hard to predict.

The longer schools are closed due to Covid-19, the greater the school dropout rate will be. This is particularly true for the most vulnerable populations, such as the refugees. Children in refugee situations run the risk of never going back to school.

For a child, living in a situation of forced displacement means having lost their home and family. In addition, they often face situations of violence and the risk of abuse, exploitation, trafficking or being recruited into the army. It is very hard for them to access food, drinking water and, of course, education.

The partial or total closure of schools, which is still a fact in many countries around the world, is having devastating consequences on the lives of refugee children:

  • A lack of access to learning makes it difficult for them to continue their education and jeopardises their future.
  • It affects their daily food intake, as many children have their main meal of the day at school.
  • It also hinders their access to drinking water.
  • It directly influences the lack of protection against violence and leads to increased abuse and exploitation.
  • For girls, in particular, it means greater exposure to physical and/or sexual violence and an increase in child pregnancies, child marriages and female genital mutilation.
Entreculturas defends the right to education for children in all circumstances, especially in emergency and refugee contexts, where it is even more necessary. Since the beginning of this crisis, we have been working to continue protecting these minors and to guarantee them a minimum level of education via the promotion of online and radio education, as well as the distribution of educational materials that complement distance-learning systems.

Education for Syrian refugee children: a right that is at risk.

In Syria, 94% of school-age children live in areas where the educational conditions are severe, extreme or catastrophic. After 10 years of war, these are some of the consequences affecting the right to education:

  • An estimated 50% of children in northern Syria have dropped out of school.
  • 1 in 3 schools cannot be used as they have been damaged, destroyed or because they house displaced families.
  • 31 schools are used for military purposes.
  • In 2020, 61 schools were targeted in attacks; at least 42 minors were killed and 38 were injured.

Syrian children who have fled the country to escape the war also find it difficult to go to school in their host countries. That is why we are working with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Lebanon, one of the destination countries for Syrian children, to keep them in school even if the classrooms themselves are still closed. The refugee situation, together with Covid-19, has made refugee children doubly vulnerable (three times as much in the case of girls).

This, coupled with the severe economic crisis facing Lebanon, has resulted in 18% of Syrian refugee households in the country affirming they have taken one of their children out of school over the past year: child labour increased by 4.4% in 2020.

Girls face greater problems when it comes to continuing their education. Marriage is the leading cause of school dropout among adolescent girls and young women aged between 15 and 24 (up from 28% in 2019 to 46% in 2020). We discuss this in our report Schools that Protect: The Response to Refugees in Lebanon in a Time of Pandemic and Educational Crisis.

Schools that Protect: The Response to Refugees in Lebanon in a Time of Pandemic and Educational Crisis.

Education is a refuge.

SERGI CÁMARA ©photo