In the West, most children are afforded a K-12 education. In places like the United States, as well as in many European countries, children are guaranteed an option of free public education. This sets children up for success in life, providing opportunities for university education, trade school, and general career advancement.
Not everyone in the world is so privileged.
According to a 2019 report by the UN Refugee Agency, out of 7.2 million refugee children around the world, only 3.7 million have the opportunity to attend school. Globally, 91% of children attend elementary (primary) school, whereas only 63% of refugee children have this opportunity.
The situation is even bleaker as refugee children get older. Around the world, 84 percent of adolescents go to secondary school, while only 24 percent of refugee teens have this opportunity. As these young people get older, the barriers that prevent them from accessing learning become harder to overcome. Continuing past the 8th grade is one of the deciding factors in whether or not a child finishes their education.
In most developing countries, particularly among war torn populations, it is common for youth to drop out of primary and secondary school for reasons of cost or a need to support their families. Where there is education, it is not guaranteed to be free, either, even when tuition is at low or no cost. There is the concern of uniforms, books, and supplies, often as a requirement to attend. This is incredibly cost prohibitive for vulnerable families.
The children supported by the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan are part of many programs aimed at providing hope, help, and healing for the intense trauma that many experienced as they fled their homes at a young age. Healing after trauma is a complex process, and one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle is providing young people with educational opportunities that will allow them to advance in life.
Education protects refugees and their children from forced recruitment into armed groups, child labor, and sexual exploitation. Education empowers refugees by giving them the knowledge and skills to rebuild their lives and communities. We are passionate about providing education to those displaced by sectarian violence.
That is why we have implemented the General David E. Greer Scholarship. Named for our late executive director, General David Greer, this legacy scholarship will fulfill his dream of providing educational access to the children of Iraqi, Kurdish, and Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Brigadier General David Greer dedicated his life to helping those in need. He was a decorated member of the Army National Guard who proudly accepted the task of rebuilding lives in Iraq, even well into his retirement from the armed forces. It was there that he saw the need of the people, particularly persecuted Christians, and helped to establish programs that would improve their lives.
While in Baghdad, he established a Boy Scout Troop, and assisted St. George’s Anglican Church in obtaining reconstruction grants through the US State Department. He helped the church construct a Kindergarten with clean, safe restrooms – something that is not always guaranteed in schools across the Middle East and the developing world.
A life-long student, much of General Greer’s efforts were centered around providing education to vulnerable children. As a member of philanthropic organizations, he supported scholarships, a large number of them through his alma mater, the University of Tennessee. As Executive Director of American FRRME, he advocated for and obtained funding education for the refugee children in Jordan, as well as helped establish a school in Kurdistan for Yazidi girls.
It is absolutely imperative that the school-aged children and teenagers in Jordan’s refugee communities remain in school. Even though they cannot work in Jordan, an education that is accepted by the rest of the world will enable them to settle wherever they dream to, and enter whatever fields they choose. But, there are barriers that prevent educational access for these children. Although Jordanian children are almost universally educated, refugee children are not afforded the same opportunities.
In a 2017 survey of Syrian refugees, it was reported that only a third of their children were enrolled in school. Since then, educational access has improved, but is by no means perfect; nor is it completely free. As you may already know, most refugee families in Jordan rely on humanitarian assistance to survive. They are not afforded citizenship or work permits, and can be deported if found working for pay. Supplies, uniforms, and even transportation to and from school cost money that most refugee families do not have.
The General Greer Scholarship Fund will help keep these vulnerable students in school. The fund will help pay for school supplies, uniforms, transportation, and to fund tutoring services, music lessons, and English lessons at the Olive Tree Center. This scholarship will provide an opportunity for these deserving students to receive a well-rounded education.
The youth at the Olive Tree Center have truly lost everything. Many of them are coming of age now, in 2022, and spent most of their formative years fleeing from danger. Many experienced the horrors of ISIS first hand. These kids have overcome so much, and still have many obstacles left to overcome. We want to help these young people grow and have every opportunity to advance in life. They are truly deserving of better lives, and a solid education and a supportive environment like the Olive Tree Center is their best chance, where they can gain the confidence they need to succeed in the classroom.
Life is not easy for refugees in Jordan and other parts of the Middle East. As adversity grows, programs are needed to protect the most vulnerable of these refugees, the children. American FRRME is committed to long term self-sustaining programs and opportunities to help empower refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Donations to American FRRME go to programs that will aid in the survival of families facing violence across the Middle East.