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Children lack schooling in Syria crisis, UNICEF says

March 05, 2013|By Patrick J. McDonnell
  • Children attend the one class still open in Mashhad School in Aleppo, Syria.
Children attend the one class still open in Mashhad School in Aleppo, Syria. (Bruno Gallardo / European…)

BEIRUT — Syria’s civil conflict has battered the nation’s education system, depriving hundreds of thousands of children of schooling, UNICEF said Tuesday.

One in 5 Syrian schools have suffered damage or have been converted into shelters, UNICEF said in a new overview of the parlous state of education in Syria, where an armed rebellion has been raging for almost two years.

In some cases, UNICEF said, armed groups have commandeered schools. At least 2,400 schools have been damaged or destroyed, the U.N. children's agency said.

More than 110 teachers and staff members have been killed, UNICEF said, and others are no longer reporting to their schools. Many parents are reluctant to send their children to classes, fearing for their safety.

In the embattled northern city of Aleppo, the site of daily clashes, the school attendance rate has dropped as low as 6%, UNICEF said.

“Syria once prided itself on the quality of its schools,” said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF’s Syria representative. “Now it’s seeing the gains it made over the years rapidly reversed.”

The U.N. agency says its efforts in Syria include providing teaching and learning supplies, assisting in remedial education and repairing damaged facilities. UNICEF says its education initiatives in Syria will cost about $20 million during the first six months of 2013, but the agency, which relies on private and public donations, has received no more than $3 million.

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