The Government of Egypt (GoE) continues to host Syrian refugees and extend its resources to accommodate them in an inclusive manner within the host communities and not in refugee camps. The Government of Egypt has extended full and equal access for Syrians to public education and healthcare in addition to government-subsidized public services such as energy, transportation and food. Needless to say, this inevitably constitutes an enormous financial burden on the GoE.
As of July 2017, 122,203 Syrian refugees were officially registered in Egypt though it is widely perceived that the actual number is much higher. The estimated numbers of “impacted host communities in Egypt” are almost 1.5 million.
42,577 Syrian students registered in formal schools during the academic year 2016-2017, representing approximately half (48%) of the total number of refugee students in the system. Roughly 30,075 (71%) are registered in public schools, while 12,502 (29%) are in private schools.
In addition, about 4,300 refugee students were enrolled in Egyptian public universities and higher education institutes during the academic year 2016-2017.
Challenges and Opportunities
The Egyptian Government is accommodating Syrian students in the public system, by waiving or reducing barriers to entry by eliminating fees and replacing education certificates with placement tests. An alarming issue is the low enrollment rates in the pre-primary education stage. Though some agencies are working on increasing the number of available spaces, this is an area UNESCO will strive to intervene in.
The GOE is shouldering a significant financial and resource burden and could greatly benefit from technical and financial assistance to continue to afford quality education to refugee students. In particular, GoE needs to enhance enrollment rates for refugee students across all education cycles, address the financial gaps that stand against the provision of well-equipped schools, train teachers and Ministry officials to be able to respond to the needs of refugee students and strengthen the education system in its entirety to be able to respond to crises of different magnitudes.