Jordan: Iraqi students exempted from school fees
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||27 August 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Jordan: Iraqi students exempted from school fees, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48b7acb5b.html [accessed 19 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
AMMAN, 27 August 2008 (IRIN) - Jordan has waived annual fees in state-owned schools for Iraqi students to help them cope with rising living costs, a Ministry of Education official said on 26 August.
The decision comes after the government cancelled school fees for Jordanians in state schools in 2008-2009, said Managing Director of General Education and Students Affairs Mohammad Ekour.
"We have sent letters to all schools... to exempt Iraqis from paying school fees and the decision has already been implemented in all parts of the kingdom," said Ekour. He said all Iraqis, despite their immigration status, would be able to take advantage of the move.
Each state school student pays 20-30 Jordanian dinars (US$28-42) per term. Textbooks cost an additional 50 dinars per student, causing financial problems for some Iraqis, who have an average of three children in school.
"We are treating Iraqis on an equal footing with Jordanians," said Ekour.
Of the 500,000 Iraqis in Jordan - most of whom fled Iraq in the wake of the US-led invasion and subsequent violence - at least 360,000 do not have valid residency permits, according to the Interior Ministry.
On arrival in Jordan, those without proper immigration documents were barred from state schools, forcing many families to enrol their children in private schools.
In recent years those without valid permits were not allowed to attend these schools. Even those with residency permits were only allowed to attend with special permission - a policy which left thousands of Iraqi children without any education.
But as many Iraqis faced mounting financial difficulties, thousands of Iraqi students have had to abandon private schools, with some families sending their children out to work.
The issue alarmed child rights groups and international organisations, which put pressure on Jordan to accept all Iraqis in its schools, irrespective of their legal status.
Jordan says the number of Iraqi students at state schools (there were 24,000 in 2007-08) placed a huge burden on its education infrastructure.
Ministry of Education officials say many schools have resorted to a double shift system to accommodate the high number of students. Others have opened new classes or hired extra staff. Most of the Iraqi students are in the cities of Amman and Zarqa.
Jordan says its economy has lost US$2.2 billion as a result of hosting Iraqis - the funds having been spent mostly in the education and health sectors.
UN "critically aware"
"We are critically aware that the pressure on the public [education] system is immense," said Imran Rizza, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative in Jordan, in a statement posted on the organisation's website on 25 August.
The UNHCR is looking at ways of working with the government on expanding the capacity of state schools. It is also examining the introduction of evening classes that Iraqi refugee children can attend.
"One of the most crucial challenges we face is that we do not lose [out on] the literacy and futures of a generation of Iraqi children due to displacement," said Riza.
According to the UNHCR, at least 4.4 million Iraqis are still uprooted, including 2.4 million displaced inside Iraq and two million outside, mainly in Syria and Jordan.