As of November 2013, the Syrian civil war had already pushed an estimated 2.1 million people out of the country to neighboring countries. The largest number of Syrian refugees are in Lebanon (756,630), followed by Jordan (523,607). Turkey is also seeing increased flows. With a native population of four million, Lebanon is ill-equipped to handle a projected influx of one million Syrian refugees. There are around 400,000 children of school age and the number is expected to reach 500,000. Syrian students are integrated into the public school system, although by some estimates enrollment is under 10%.  

Nevertheless, because of the sheer numbers, schools are now running double shifts and some even a third. Since non-Lebanese nationals are not allowed to teach, Syrian refugee teachers cannot be hired as public school teachers, although there is an accreditation exchange agreement between Syria and Lebanon. NGOs have programs to employ Syrian teachers, but only as teaching assistants and for remedial education. Many of the Syrian teachers serve on an education board that works with relief agencies to coordinate the delivery of education services. These teachers work with agencies to assess the skills of teachers who may have no documentation.

More than half a million Syrians were registered with the U.N. refugee agency in Jordan at the end of September 2013. School–age children from 5 to 17 years old make up 35% of the refugee population. More than 150,000, nearly 23% of the Syrian refugee population, live in Zaatari camp. Here Syrian teachers work alongside Jordanian counterparts, two in each class, teaching essentially a Syrian curriculum. Because of safety issues, school attendance is low, and many children work to help support their family. Those refugees who have options move out of the camps, severely taxing a public school system already overstretched and overcrowded. Schools have had to put in place a double shift system to accommodate mostly Syrian students in the afternoon. Double-shift teaching puts an added strain on teachers, who by law must be Jordanian citizens to work in public schools.

There are approximately 1,500 Syrian teachers working in Turkey’s camps for Syrians, who are not regarded as refugees, but have been given a temporary protection status designed for a mass influx of people. One camp, the Kilis refugee camp, has a school which is run by a Turkish director and a board of volunteering Syrian teachers providing classes for anyone aged between five and eighteen. At another camp, volunteer Syrian teachers have set up a school system teaching a modified Syrian curriculum. Thirty-three Syrian refugee teachers divided four large-sized tents into grades 1 to 12, with two daily shifts to accommodate all the children whose parents allow them to study. There are handcraft classes for women and Turkish language classes twice a week.


Syrian Refugees in Turkey.” Fanack: Chronicles of the Middle East & North Africa.