At a side-event to the international Syria conference in April 2018 in Brussels, Kenanah Alchaieb, a Syrian HOPES scholarship holder studying in Jordan, discussed prospects for Syrian youth in the region with Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.
Kenanah is currently studying for a Master’s degree in business administration. She reported on the hopes and fear she and other Syrian students have for their future. The main issue for all of them is their professional career. How will they be able to utilise and expand the knowledge acquired at university for their own benefit and that of the societies they are part of?
While Kenanah will soon obtain her Master’s degree, a project realised by the American University of Beirut with support from HOPES focuses on preparing female refugee students of pre-university age for degree programmes in STEM subjects. Brooke Atherton El-Amine, the responsible project coordinator, explained how the girls living in an informal tented refugee settlement acquire the necessary scientific knowledge to successfully pass the Lebanese high school exam at a school especially designed for these circumstances.
The event on 23rd April, organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the DAAD led HOPES consortium, UNICEF and the NGO Spark, highlighted the importance of education for Syrian youth. DAAD Secretary General Dr Dorothea Rüland opened the event together with Commissioner Hahn. She underlined the importance of higher education in crisis situations such as that currently prevailing in Syria and its neighbouring countries:
If young people are deprived of education they are deprived of their future. We need to help them develop their skills and personality so that they can contribute to their societies in the long term.
Dr. Dorothea Rüland, DAAD Secretary General
HOPES – Higher and Further Education Opportunities and Perspectives for Syrians
The DAAD-led HOPES project addresses exactly these needs. HOPES is implemented by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and its European partners British Council, Campus France and Nuffic in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq. It aims to improve access to higher education for refugees and vulnerable youth from the host communities. The project is fully financed by the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the ‘Madad Fund’. Over the past two years, HOPES has provided 470 full academic scholarships for Syrians and vulnerable youth from the host communities; 2.325 students have been offered English language courses and 31 projects at local educational institutions will be granted financial support for their implementation.
But this is only the beginning and much remains to be done. Commissioner Hahn promised to put the young people’s suggestions and wishes on the agenda of the international Syria conference and to advocate for maintaining a focus on education in the EU’s support for Syria and the region.
The EU’s response to the crisis: the Madad Fund
The Madad Fund is a key instrument in responding to the crisis. With contributions and pledges from 22 EU member states and Turkey, amounting to now more than €150 million, and contributions from various EU instruments the fund has reached a total volume of €1.5 billion to date. €1.2 billion have been adopted in actions by the board and €920 million have been contracted to 47 projects on the ground, reaching over two million people.
The key priorities of the trust fund are:
- To provide a reinforced and coherent aid response by EU member states, other donors and EU instruments to address early recovery and resilience needs in order to preserve the stability of neighbouring countries and lead longer term international reconstruction efforts once a lasting peace has been established.
- To contribute to the goal of No Lost Generation by providing all refugee and vulnerable local children with quality education and protective services with equal access for girls and boys.
- To reduce the pressure on countries hosting refugees by investing in livelihoods, social cohesion, health, water and sanitation, and by supporting access to vocational training and jobs for refugees and local communities.
- The speeches and pictures of the event can be found on the website of the European Commission’s Audiovisual Service.
- To the HOPES website
- Further information about the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis can be found on the website of the European Commission.