Erbil, 29 August 2013 (UNESCO) - The United Nations Education and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Norwegian Refugees Council (NRC) are joining efforts with partners from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), sister UN agencies, national and international NGOs to address the critical and urgent educational needs of Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I).
From August 27 until the 29 August 2013, UNESCO and NRC are organizing a pioneering workshop in Erbil, KR-I, aiming at strengthening the capacity of education institutions and stakeholders in KRI to respond effectively and comprehensively to the current crisis. The focus will be on the globally recognized Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Minimum Standards: an inclusive and participatory approach adopted in crisis areas around the world to ensure that a minimum level of educational quality and access in emergencies is guaranteed for all children, youth and adults.
The Minister of Education in KRG, HE Dr. Asmat Mohamed Khalid, opened the workshop welcoming representatives from UN Agencies, high level government officials, local and international NGOs. Workshop participants are expected to increase their understanding of the INEE Minimum Standards and discuss coordinated planning and delivery of educational services in the context of the Syrian refugees’ crisis in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government in cooperation with the United Nations, national and international civil society organizations is trying to meet the educational needs of Syrian Refugees to respond to this crisis” stated UNESCO Iraq Education representative Dr. Nabil Naccache; “education as a basic human right is at the core of these interventions”, added Dr. Naccache.
"Our hope is that this workshop launches a community of practice in KRI committed to ensuring that all children in the region access their right to a quality education", said Mr. Dean Brooks, NRC Global Education advisor, confirming that " NRC is encouraged to see the important steps that the KRG has taken to uphold the right to education such as the provision of curriculum in Arabic and by prioritizing that education stakeholders participate in this seminar".
Officials participating in this workshop also revealed their high expectations concerning this initiative. “This (INEE) initiative supported by UNESCO is one of the most important preparation steps for the next phase in order to develop existing plans and plan ahead using the knowledge offered in the INEE workshop", stated Director of planning in the Directorate of Education in Duhok, Mr. Hazhar M. Shakir.
"Thanks to this workshop all counterparts are made aware of how educational processes should be in emergencies".
According to the recent official numbers, more than 200,000 Syrian refugees were registered in Iraq, while forecasts expect for these number to increase to 500,000 by the end of 2013 with over 90% of them located in the KR-I. Since August 15 more than 50,000 new Syrian have arrived in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. This fast and sudden escalation has put a tremendous strain on municipal and social services and host communities. UNESCO and NRC are taking this initiative in close cooperation with UNHCR, UNICEF and other international and local partners to support the Kurdistan Regional Government develop comprehensive and sustainable responses to address shortages in education delivery to refugees.
The INEE Minimum Standards were developed by over 3,500 educationalists from over 52 countries and express a commitment that all children, youth and adults have the right to safe, quality and relevant education even in the most dire circumstances, including forced displacement due to violent conflict.
As the foundational tool for Education in Emergencies, use of the INEE Minimum Standards can help ensure accountability and quality of education service provision for refugees in KR-I.