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Combatting Child Labor through Vocational Training: Targeting Syrian Refugee Girls in Jordan 18 18 Executive Summary Globally, around 152 million children are engaged in child labor, equating to nearly one in ten children (ILO, 5). Out of that staggering number, more than 28 million have been forced to flee their homes, exacerbating their vulnerability to child labor (UNICEF, 3). The Syrian refugee crisis is no exception to that statistic, as Syrian refugee children in Jordan have a much higher worker-to-population ratio of 3.22% compared to their Jordanian peers at 1.75% (Alkhatib et al., 20). Education is the primary tool capable of combatting these child labor rates. Out of the 27,000 Syrian refugees ages 16–18 in Jordan, only 25% are enrolled in secondary school (Small). This paper seeks to explore child labor’s relation to education and its prevalence among Syrian teen girls in refugee camps in Jordan, uncovering its causes, implications, and suggestions for potential solutions. There are specific measures the UN and NGOs can employ to build upon existing programs and create an alternative to traditional secondary education. These include vocational training programs for girls who desire to take a less academically rigid, more vocational approach. One program is the UN’s Women and Girls Oasis Centers, also known as the UN Oasis Program. This program can be expanded to incorporate teen girls with elements specifically designed for them, including a paid mentorship program, an emphasis on teaching entrepreneurial and soft skills, an extension in program length, and increased job support. Issues and Challenges Due to the Syrian civil war, cross-border migration increased significantly after 2011, especially in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Unfortunately, due to the dire circumstances within refugee camps, children, especially girls, have been affected mentally, emotionally, and physically. The deprivation of Policy Brief on the Future of Work MARTINDALE CENTER education in these areas is one of the first barriers young women face when planning their future. Instead of exercising their fundamental right to education, these children are often forced to work in dangerous and arduous jobs to contribute to the family income. According to an assessment conducted in 2013, 47% of the 186 Syrian refugee households in Jordan relied either partially or entirely on the income generated from their children, fueling the vicious cycle of poverty that thrives off child labor (UNWomen a, 3). Eman Freeh Ali Fares is a female Jordanian teacher who worked at the Za’atari Camp with Syrian refugee girls, ages 6–11 years old, for multiple years. Throughout an interview, Freeh Ali Fares highlighted many of the challenges reflected within this research, offering insight through her firsthand experience to such issues. At the Za’atari camp, secondary education is offered to female students in three main areas: scientific, literary, and vocational studies. Freeh Ali Fares experienced absences and tardiness from many of her students due to their familial responsibilities, which often included caring for elders, selling rugs other textiles, and providing food for other family members. Low school attendance rates among Syrian refugees reflect Freeh Ali Fares’s observations. The school attendance rate for Syrian refugees in the Za’atari Camp is roughly 71.3%, compared to the 95%among their Jordanian peers (Alkhatib et al., 23). It is evident that the time and effort traditional studies demands may not be feasible for young Syrian girls who are expected to contribute to their family’s responsibilities and income. Additionally, Freeh Ali Fares emphasized the role early marriage plays within the disruption of young girls’ studies and future ambitions. Among Syrian girls, an assessment indicates that 51.3% of females were married before the age of 18 (UN Women a, 3). Freeh Ali Fares attributes these high These Martindale Center Policy Briefs on the Future of Work were prepared by teams of students and young professionals serving as Research Externs with the Lehigh University / United Nations Partnership working in affiliation with the International Labour Organization. Authors: Brianna Cimaglia • Grace Cox • Ceren Ince • Caroline Mierzwa • Noor Musharraf • Emily Randolph • Emma Santini Series Editor: Stephen Cutcliffe, Ph.D. February 2021 Combatting Child Labor through Vocational Training: Targeting Syrian Refugee Girls in Jordan