16 October 2017 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan travelled to Jordan to meet children who, like her, fled the Syria conflict and are now determined to go to school despite extremely challenging circumstances. It was the first time Muzoon had returned to the country – where she spent three years in refugee camps, before being resettled in the United Kingdom with her family in 2015.
“Returning to Jordan to meet children whose hope has been restored through education has compelled me to raise my voice even louder for the 27 million children who remain out of school because of conflict. I recommit myself to represent all of the children whose voices have been silenced for too long – and whose chance to learn, and of hope for a better future have been destroyed by war,” said Muzoon.
Around 2.4 million Syrian children are missing out on education, including 1.7 million inside Syria and more than 730,000 Syrian refugee children in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Some Syrian children have never been inside a classroom, while others have lost five or six years of their education.
During her visit, Muzoon met children attending a UNICEF-supported Makani Centre in Amman including 14-year-old Sedra, who fled the conflict in Syria with her family when she was just 10 years old. She missed two years of school and now is getting the support she needs to catch up on her learning and join a public school soon. She dreams of becoming a legal advisor one day.
Makani Centres provide vulnerable children in Jordan – including Syrian refugees – with informal learning programmes, critical psychosocial support and life skills training. The centres also help children enroll into public schools.
“Hearing about Sedra’s experiences took me back to when my family and I fled the war. I was so sad and scared to leave my home and school behind – the only hope I held on to was to continue my education,” said Muzoon.
When Muzoon was forced to flee violence in Syria more than four years ago, her school books were the only belongings she took with her. She spent nearly three years in Jordan, including 18 months in Za’atari refugee camp, where she made it her personal mission to get more girls into education. She went from tent to tent talking to parents to encourage them to get their children into school and learning. Her commitment as an education activist led to her appointment as UNICEF’s youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador in June 2017.
“Education equips girls and boys with the knowledge and skills to fully realize their potential. Schools also provide stability and a sense of normalcy that help Syrian children overcome the challenges of life as a refugee,” said UNICEF Jordan Representative Robert Jenkins. “Jordan has made an incredible commitment to enable Syrian children to access education, but urgent support is required from the global community to further build on progress achieved to date.”
Since the conflict began, UNICEF has worked with partners to increase access to formal and informal education for children affected by the Syria crisis, including through the creation of double-shifting systems in nearly 500 schools in Jordan and Lebanon, ‘back-to-learning’ campaigns, and rehabilitation of some 1,000 classrooms across refugee host countries. However, a devastating funding gap is preventing the organization from reaching more children. UNICEF has received only half of the funding needed to provide education for children affected by the Syria conflict.
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