Last week, ECPM board members Branislav Škripek (MEP, Slovakia) and Stieneke van der Graaf (Member of the Provincial Parliament in the Netherlands for ChristianUnion) visited Jordan for three days. Our politicians met with refugees, representatives of NGO's and religious leaders to be informed about the current situation of refugees in Jordan.
During an international round table discussion in the city of Amman, local professionals and NGO workers talked about "Supporting development in Jordan through education". Mr. Imrad Gammoh, a lecturer at the Jordan Evangelical Theological School, involved in the establishment of new Christian schools and active in the Jordan Baptist Convention, gave an overview of the current situation regarding the education for refugee children in Jordan.
Although Jordan says to prioritise education for both male and female refugees, there are challenges as well. Refugees are obliged to follow the official Jordanian curriculum and since Jordan is officially a Muslim country, this makes it hard for Christian children. Another challenge is the fact that 15% of the schools have double shifts as there are 40-60 children per teacher. Lastly, most teachers are not trained in dealing with the psychosocial problems of their pupils.
ECPM MEP Branislav Škripek: "The round table gave us different points of view of the difficulties of this work and especially how to bring a future to these children. Many of them have no possibilities to get to real education. Therefore, we spoke to locals, people from different organisations and teachers. I will use this experiences and all the knowledge I gained here for my work in the LIBE committee, the committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament."
After the round table discussion, the group travelled to the town of Zarqa outside of Amman where they visited Iraqi pastor Hani Jameel. His church runs a family centre, providing living space, food and education for 15 christian Iraqi families. The next day, several NGO's welcomed the group. Notable was the NGO Arab Women Today, defending women's rights and providing training for Christian women with leadership tasks.
On the last day, they travelled to the refugee camp in Zaatari, close to the Syrian border. Around 80.000 people live in the camp, most of them Syrian refugees. Being a city in itself, this refugee camp once more showed mrs. Van der Graaf and mr. Skripek how important it is to arrange proper shelter for those fleeing to their neighbouring countries Jordan and Libanon.