Refugee children could become the extremists of the future if they do not receive a good education, the deputy prime minister of Jordan has warned.
Speaking to journalists at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai today, Mohammed Thneibat, who is also the country’s education minister, said the world would pay a “high price” if it failed to educate refugees.
“We do believe that if we leave these students for the street they will be extremists,” he said. “This is why we are opening all kinds of teaching school to those students, so they will not be out of schooling.
“We are trying to educate these people for peace, not to be extremists,” he said.
“We are introducing some ideas about tolerance, coexistence, freedom of speech and all these kind of things. We have to have them in our education system because the alternative is very bad.
“The international community will pay a high price if we don’t stand together to face this serious problem [of] refugee education in general.”
He added: “If we’re not able to give them chances for education, everybody should be worried. Not only Jordanians, [but] everybody in the world should be worried because if you don’t educate the children they have another alternative.”
Mr Thneibat said Jordan had run a series of programmes to educate refugees, such as schools that ran two shifts in a day to accommodate more pupils, evening schools and a “catch-up programme” for refugees who had received little or no education.
But he said his country needed an extra $300m (£209m) per year just to accommodate Syrian refugees, with extra money needed for refugees from other countries.
“What we are trying to do is, try to get this financial support from international community so we will be able to build more schools… and to have a safe place and good environment for educating the refugee students,” he said.
More than 1.4 million Syrian refugees are estimated to have arrived in Jordan since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.