The Said Foundation has pledged over US$1.8m to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR for scholarships for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. Announcing the grant on 17th July, the Chairman of the Foundation, Wafic Rida Said, said:
“Syria is the Foundation’s highest priority and, in the current tragic circumstances, assistance for displaced and refugee Syrians is naturally at the heart of our work. Taking a longer-term perspective, the Foundation has been known for three decades for its initiatives in support of higher education, a focus born of our conviction that higher education is a force for change and a force for good.
The needs of Syrians at this time are immense and over the last three years the Foundation has provided over £5m towards the international effort to meet these needs. But we have been concerned to find a way to support the aspirations of young Syrians who find themselves, through no fault of their own, deprived of the opportunity to go to university. We are witnessing the beginnings of the loss of a generation to higher education. The numbers of young Syrians who are now excluded from higher education is enormous. This is a personal tragedy for these young people and a significant problem for the rebuilding of a peaceful post-conflict Syria, whenever that becomes possible.
We are therefore delighted to support UNHCR to extend the programme it began last year to provide scholarships to Syrian refugees to attend Jordanian universities and also to enable UNHCR to extend this programme into Lebanon. UNHCR and its local partners are well placed to identify recipients for scholarships who, with the help of their studies, will go on to contribute to their refugee communities and, in time, to the rebuilding of Syria. They are also well placed to maintain close contact with local university partners and to support the students themselves.
Globally, UNHCR estimates that only 1% of refugees of higher education age are actually enrolled at universities. We thank UNHCR for enabling us to help more Syrian refugees to go to university and to do so in the region itself where these students can be role models for and contributors to their communities. We very much hope that other donors will come forward to support this initiative.”
Roland Schilling, UNHCR Representative to the UK, said:
“The ongoing Syria conflict is shattering the aspirations of millions of young Syrians, robbing them of the opportunity to build a future for themselves and their war-torn country. Ensuring that these young people have access to quality education whilst they are refugees is essential in addressing this urgent challenge.
The support of the Said Foundation, UNHCR’s most significant private UK donor, is therefore indispensable. Their new grant will greatly help the funding of crucial scholarships for Syrian refugees in Jordan whilst also helping to launch the first higher education scholarship programme for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
UNHCR is grateful to the Said Foundation for this generous investment in the future of Syrians. We call on other private sector supporters to follow this lead and support UNHCR’s ‘No Lost Generation’ strategy to protect a generation of Syrian youth from a life of despair, diminished opportunities and broken futures.” The UNHCR announcement is at:
The scholarships supported by the Foundation will cover the costs of tuition and registration fees as well as allowances for other study costs and for subsistence. It is anticipated that 100 students will be supported, 40 in Jordan and 60 in Lebanon. They will start at local universities in September 2014 and will be supported for the four-year duration of their studies.
© UNHCR/S. Baldwin
"When I saw what the war was doing to our children, I decided to become a nurse," says 16-year-old Alaa, who is a Syrian refugee attending classes in southern Lebanon. Sometimes, even out of the worst possible circumstances in life, we are able to find meaning, purpose and direction.