Finn Church Aid: Youth education and employment need special attention in Syria and the neighboring countries

Ahmad Rezeq Qamber cuts Samer Sawaleh's hair in the King Abdullah Park refugee camp in Jordan. Finn Church Aid supports education for Syrian youth in Jordan and Syria. Photo: Ville Asikainen

Today the international community discussed the humanitarian crisis in Syria in Helsinki. In the Supporting Syrians conference, UN and partners launched the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for 2017-2018. Education and employment of youth cannot be stressed enough.

Unemployment rates of youth in Syria and the neighboring countries are very high and a lack of future perspectives for youth is a fuel for instability, noted the recent Arab Human Development Report by UNDP. There are 2.7 million adolescents in Syria in need of assistance.

“It’s very welcome that both education and economic opportunities are included in the plan. However, more attention must be paid to linking these two aspects of the response to each other. We cannot invest too much in education and youth employment”, says Tomi Järvinen, Director of International Programme at Finn Church Aid.

Syrian children and youth have the right to quality education and livelihoods. Therefore, they should be provided for uninterrupted educational paths including secondary, vocational and higher education.

To achieve that, teacher training needs extra support. Dialogue with the private sector needs to be continued to ensure the relevance of the education for labor market needs. In addition, vocational and entrepreneurial training as well as funding for start-up entrepreneurs must be increased. In the same time, bureaucratic barriers hindering their aspirations have to be deconstructed. Children and youth in vulnerable situations also need psycho-social support.

“It is crucial to support employment of both Syrian refugees and host community youth at the risk of marginalization”, stresses Järvinen.

”Employment will also enable a flexible return home for refugees. They may have been able to save money maintain their working ability and possibly learn new skills.”

”It seems that both donors and Syrians are seeking new ways to earn a living, organise education and create jobs. Glimpses of hope are also in the air. Donors have also taken into account that we can learn from the survival mechanisms of the local communities.”

The education of Syrian children and youth cannot wait until the conflict ends; that the parties will be able to negotiate peace and Syrians will start the reconstruction. 40 per cent of adolescent children and youth are unable to go to school this winter, and the longer they wait the harder it is to go back – if not impossible.

Finn Church Aid supports Syrian refugees at refugee camps and surrounding host communities in Jordan. We provide youth and young adults with English and IT training as well as various professional skills training. We also provide young adults with recreational activities, such as sports and a circus school, which are intended to promote the psychosocial wellbeing of these young people who find themselves in a difficult situation.

In Syria we support food aid and education for internally displaced people  through our partner International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).

For further information:

Tomi Järvinen, Director of International Programme, Finn Church Aid, tel. +358 40 641 8209

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