Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank, announcing details of the funding programs for The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund, in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Around 6,500 Syrian and Palestinian refugee students in Lebanon, Jordan and the UAE will receive funding to continue their education in the first phase of Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chaiman of the Board of Trustees of Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, announced in a press conference on Monday that Dh45 million will be allotted for the phase one of the three-phase programme that will see Dh100 million spent in three years.

“This programme is designed to help refugee children here in the UAE as well as in Lebanon and Jordan get back to school. Syrian and Palestinian refugee children in these countries can apply to continue their education through our partners. We are targeting Dh100 million for the next three years,” said Al Ghurair, speaking to Gulf News following the announcement.

He added that over 15,000 students from high school to post graduate level will be supported through the Fund.

“Our programme will see the refugee children through higher secondary, technical training and university, making sure they are well prepared to get work and become self-reliant,” said Al Ghurair.

More than 25 million or nearly half of the world’s refugees hail from the Middle East and North Africa region and an estimated 12 million of these are children, many of whom had to discontinue their education as they escape violence in their countries.

“We have found that there are thousands of bright students among the refugees who have been deprived of proper education due to war and our endeavour is to give them this opportunity to learn and get their rightful place in this world,” he added.

Carried out with the support of UNICEF, UNHCR, Unite Lebanon Youth Project (ULYP), Luminus Education and Emirates Red Crescent, the fund will support refugee children through various stages of their learning experience.

In the UAE, the Fund will work with the ERC and UNHCR to support the school fees of the out of schoolchildren from refugee families who are temporarily residing in the UAE due to a conflict in their home countries.

In Jordan, the Fund will join forces with UNICEF to provide access to education for 4,200 vulnerable students from grades nine to 12.

“This will help thousands of children get access to quality education and continue their courses that have been disrupted by the war. It will also equip the children with the skills required for them to land decent jobs, which includes soft skills, technical and vocational training,” said Eltayeb Adam, UNICEF representative for Gulf region.

He added that the UNICEF has designed special programmes to utilise the grant of Dh5.5 million received from the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund.

In Lebanon, the Fund is tying up with ULYP to help refugee students complete dreams of a better life.

“The fund is helping us to scale up our projects in Lebanon. We are working with 300 students in grades 11 and 12 to improve their English communication skills and help them better prepare for the university,” said Malek Al Nimer, founder of ULYP.

The Fund will also provide university scholarships to 128 students in Lebanon, while more than 400 students will be aided through the programme in the next stage.

Syrian children in UAE get help to continue schooling

Hundreds of children from Syrian families who moved to the UAE escaping the civil war in their country will benefit from Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund, it was announced on Monday.

More than 250,000 Syrians call the UAE their home and according to a senior UNHCR official at least half of the Syrian residents here are those who fled by the war, with many unable to afford their children’s education.

“More than 350 candidates who need support in continuing their education have already approached us for help and going forward we expect more people to benefit from the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund,” said Toby Howard, Head of UNHCR in the UAE.

He added that Syrian expatriates in the UAE have been burdened having to support large families here and relatives elsewhere, who have been displaced by the seven-year-old civil war.

“There are so many Syrians here who are struggling to make ends meet because they have to many people to support and this has forced many of the families to discontinue their children’s education and we are looking forward to helping these children to get back to school,” said Howard, whose organisation works with Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) on this programme.

Howard said that the general amnesty announced by the UAE government since last month has helped many Syrians living in the UAE illegally come forward for help.

“The amnesty has helped us find many cases where people needed help to get back on their feet. I commend the UAE government’s decision to grant these people one year’s visa which will help them find work and get their lives back on track,” he added.

War-affected Syrians living in the UAE can either approach the UNHCR UAE or ERC to benefit from the fund for education. The ERC could be reached at 800733.

Statistics

■  50 per cent of the global refugee population is in the Arab world
■  Over 2 million Syrian children are out of school
■  80 per cent of out-of-school children in the Arab world are affected by conflict