The challenges of educating refugee children is not something that most teachers have to worry about here in the United States. In Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, however, it has become a very serious and common concern.
Millions of Syrians have fled the conflict that has been tearing that country apart for the last three years, in what the United Nations has deemed the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II. It could be a very long time before many of those refugees return home, if they ever do, and so it becomes paramount that refugee children have access to education.
Many Syrian children are being taught, but the educational systems in which they find themselves are strained. According to a study by the RAND Corporation, improving those systems will require more instruction time, better teacher training, more school monitoring, and programs tailored to children who have missed instruction. Some Syrian children haven’t been in school for the last three years.
So far, only about half of those Syrian children even have access to education, with some 700,000 children in those countries not currently enrolled in formal education. Those that are face crowded classes, overworked teachers, and instructors who don’t know how to deal with trauma and its side-effects.
Worse, 10% of the Syrian children in Jordan are involved in child labor, and there has been an increase in the early marriage of girls in order to offset crippling poverty faced by many refugee families. The economic situation for refugees can be extremely difficult, and some families have to do whatever they can, including making their children work, in order to earn any kind of living. Those children aren’t attending school, and they need to be, in order to escape from the exploitative work they’re doing already.