Now in its eighth year and with no end in sight, the conflict in Syria has become the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. Education remains central to the humanitarian response plans in Syria. To ensure access to education for internally displaced children and those living in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in Syria, UNICEF has designed a Self-Learning Program, which aims to reach 298,000 Syrian children who have limited or no access to schooling.
Prior to the start of the conflict in 2011, Syria had a high enrollment rate in basic education - one of the best in the Middle East. More than two decades of educational progress have been lost. Currently, 5.8 million children are in need of education assistance, including 1.75 million out of school and 1.35 million who are at risk of dropping out. One out of three schools in Syria cannot be used, as they are either damaged, sheltering displaced families, or being used for military purposes.
The Self-Learning Program delivers a comprehensive self-study course with a curriculum and environment that's conducive to learning so children who have missed out on regular schooling opportunities continue their education and ultimately return to a formal school setting. The program uses innovative and flexible approaches to deliver learning opportunities and psychosocial support for the world's most vulnerable children.
Education provides immediate benefits, reducing the effects of trauma, offering stability, structure, and protection from violence and exploitation. It also secures long-term benefits, enabling children to build a better future for themselves and their families. The lack of high quality education stands in the way of sustainable development. There will be a day when conflict will subside and Syrian children will be the new leaders - this program aids in the development of the next generation.