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UK issues $22m fund for schools in Syria, conflict zones

Children of displaced families living in an abandoned damaged school building, play in the yard in Binnish in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, on March 2, 2021 [OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images]
Children of displaced families living in an abandoned damaged school building, play in the yard in Binnish in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, on March 2, 2021 [OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images]

The British government has announced a funding package amounting to over £15 million for schools operating in conflict zones around the world, including opposition-held Syria.

According to the BBC, the UK will be providing £15.8 million ($21.9 million) to schools which continue to operate in areas such as north-west Syria, with the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab saying that it will help support the "world's most vulnerable children."

The funding package will support the Syrian Education Programme, a four-year initiative funded by the British government and operating in opposition-held areas in north-west Syria.

The funding comes as an entire generation of Syrian children continues to grow up without knowing any other life outside conflict and with little access to education.

According to one project worker quoted by the BBC, children did not even know what "shopping mall" meant, but could easily identify different kinds of fighter jets and bombers based on the sounds they make.

READ: Syria's conflict has made a 10-year-old his family's only breadwinner

The schools – many of which are conducted in makeshift refugee tents and are often staffed by unpaid volunteers – are vital for the continuation of education for Syrians living in the north-west of the country, many of whom were displaced over the course of the ongoing decade-long civil war and the Syrian regime's bombing campaigns against civilians.

According to Helen Grant, a member of parliament and the prime minister's special envoy for girls' education, "When they [the students] get to school they've often been traumatised because of the bombings."

Education, she said, is, therefore, an opportunity to break the "cycle of poverty" caused by the conflict. "Schools are very much providing hope and a sense of optimism and a future — and that is desperately, desperately needed," Grant stated.

Earlier this year, the United Nations reported that over half of Syrian children had been deprived of an education, resulting in the issue becoming a generational crisis.

The Syrian Education Programme is reportedly due to end in June next year, with its projected overall budget amounting to almost £85 million ($117.7 million).

READ: EU extends educational project for Syrian children in Turkey

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