New chance of education for Iraqi asylum seekers

Thousands of Iraqi asylum-seekers who were denied education as a result of the turmoil in their own country will now have a chance to finish their studies: Jordan's government has decided to launch new education projects for asylum seekers, according to officials and activists.

"The Ministry of Education has prepared all legal documents to allow thousands of Iraqis who cannot study in regular schools to do home schooling that can be officially recognised," said Mohammad Ekour, director of students’ affairs at the Ministry of Education.

According to the programme, to be officially announced in the coming few weeks, students will be able study in their homes and sit for final examinations in public schools.

"Any student, including Iraqis, can study at home until they sit the high school examination," said Ekour, noting that the project will be implemented in early 2008.

''Any student, including Iraqis, can study at home until they sit the high school examination.''


A second project will target some 3,000 school dropouts, including Jordanians, who will be given the chance to attend evening classes taught by trained professionals. Ekour said at least 20 centres have been prepared for this purpose, mainly in Amman, Zarqa and Irbid. Officials hope the first batch of evening students will be registered in a few months.

Since 2003, when Jordan witnessed an influx of Iraqi asylum seekers, the Jordanian government has barred Iraqis from studying in public schools. This forced many to abandon their studies since they could not afford the fees for private schools. However, in a sign of changing attitudes, the government recently allowed 50,000 Iraqis asylum seekers to enter public schools. Only children who have not studied for two years or less can benefit from the programme.

Quest Scope Foundation

The school dropout project is being implemented with the help of the international charity Quest Scope Foundation, well-known for its social development projects in the Middle East. It has already helped thousands of Jordanian school dropouts gain another chance to finish their studies.

Officials from Quest Scope hope some 1,500 Iraqi students will be able to benefit from the project.

Students are enrolled in a two-year class in which they learn reading, writing and communication skills, said Wessam Zaatar, education coordinator at Quest Scope.

After completing the programme, students are given a diploma that allows them further home schooling and a chance to enrol in vocational education programmes. Target children are aged 10-18 for boys and up to 22 for girls.

Lectures are given by facilitators trained in how to deal with children from various backgrounds including those who suffer from war traumas or other psychological problems. "Some children have special skills or had a rough past, therefore it is necessary to understand the psychology of the child in order to give them the best education available," Zaatar said.

In total there will be 90 facilitators to help an estimated 3,000 school dropouts, including Jordanians, who will study in the same classes as Iraqis.

mbh/ar/cb