It’s not news that calls for funds for education in humanitarian situations are left unmet, but it doesn’t fail to shock when the actual figures are laid bare.
Syria, which no one can deny is in dire need of assistance, and where education has been flattened over the course of its recent conflict, had less than a quarter of its education requests for funding met last year, according to new GEM analysis. In total, of the funding that Syria received in its humanitarian appeal, only 4% went to education.
What does this mean for children and adolescents on the ground? The original requests that Syria made for finance in 2015 to help keep its education system buoyant through the crisis amounted to US$224 million for 4.5 million people. However, education only received 23% of the funding it requested, leaving around 3.5 million people with no education humanitarian assistance at all.
Perhaps more shocking, as we consider these figures, is that the small proportion of funds that education is receiving in Syria are not all going on schooling. Of the $51 million that was allocated to getting the education system back on track last year in Syria, 12% – or $6.1 million – of that was spent on school feeding.
It is deflating to see that the education needs of children and youth on the ground are being left unmet to such a large extent in Syria.
Our policy paper last year published jointly with UIS showed the extent to which armed conflict has taken its toll on the education system in Syria. In 2000, the country had achieved universal primary enrolment. Yet, as the civil war spread, UIS figures show that the number of out-of-school children and adolescents jumped from 0.3 million in 2012 to 1.8 million by the end of 2013. Enrolment in grades 1 to 12 fell by 35% between the 2011/12 and 2012/13 school years.
As a result, 1 out of 3 children of primary school age and more than 2 out of 5 adolescents of lower secondary school age were not in school, erasing all gains since the start of the century.
NGOs have called for at least $1.4 billion annually to ensure that all children and young people affected by the conflict are in education and learning. Our policy paper released last year, Humanitarian Aid for Education: Why It Matters and Why More is Needed, confirms the urgent need for increased funding for the sector, and shows how this funding should be spent.
Tomorrow, Heads of State and Government arrive in London for ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’, just one month before the 5th anniversary of the conflict. Let’s hope the enormity of the task is made clear to them as they gather around the table. Only a tremendous ground shift in will can now turn the situation around for children and adolescents out of school and displaced because of the crisis.