As the Syria Crisis enters its seventh year, Jordan continues to be a safe haven for those escaping violence. Today, over 660,000 registered Syrian refugees reside in Jordan in camp settings and in urban and rural areas. The country has made gains providing access to education for refugees. Of the 232,000 school-age children, over 192,000 are enrolled in formal education and non-formal education programmes. The Ministry of Education established 198 double-shifted schools and hired nearly 6,000 additional teachers. Nonetheless, the country faces challenges to address the needs of all learners. While most children participate in education programming, over 86,000 are out of school. Of the more than 191,852 youth-age, refugees (age 18-35), less than one percent have received support to pursue higher education or TVET opportunities.
Anchored in the nationally led resilience-based development approach, the Government of Jordan aims to increase access, improve quality, and strengthen internal systems to address the needs of all learners. Plans to reach the SDG4 national targets, and to implement the Jordan Compact, the Human Resources Development Strategy, and the MoE’s National Education Strategic Plan (2018-2022) as well as other education reforms lay the groundwork to achieve long-term development progress in the country.
Challenges and Opportunities
Despite the gains made, refugee and host community students still face barriers to access quality education. For students at all levels, refugee families struggle to pay for school fees, materials and transportation costs to and from school. Much attention is paid to providing basic education to Syrian children, leaving only limited resources and opportunities for older students at the secondary level and beyond.
There are few education and TVET opportunities for the youth (18-35 years). For older students, the opportunity cost of participating in education is high since families rely on them to contribute to the household income. Overall, post-secondary education and vocational and technical training opportunities are limited, and refugees at this level face challenges to take placement exams, gather required enrolment documentation and pay for courses. Moreover, students need support to secure work permits and search for work.
The international community needs to further support and build the capacity of the Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Labour to address these challenges and provide quality education and training to refugees and host communities. Through the Jordan Response Plan, the Human Resources Development Strategy (HRD), and National Education Strategic Plan (2018-2022), the MoE can address the immediate needs of Jordanian and refugee students while strengthening systems to respond to future emergencies. The Ministry will further go through an on-the-job training and utilize EMIS data and GIS school mapping tool to ensure school construction and rehabilitation meets the needs of host and refugee communities.
For post-secondary schooling, more linkages can be made with higher education and technical and vocational institutes to increase financial support for refugee and vulnerable students. Additionally, broadening the number of sectors open to Syrian workers and increasing the number of work permits issued will support youth transitioning into work.
Following the 2016 London Conference, the Government of Jordan has updated its policy related to training and employment for Syrian refugees. With the opening of the labour market for Syrians, albeit only in four sectors, and allowing Syrian refugees to participate in vocational training programmes, there are new and emerging opportunities to scale post-basic and higher education and training opportunities. This also presents the opportunity to provide much needed capacity development for public institutions to deliver quality and relevant education and training that is linked to labour market needs.