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Syrian Community Schools in Cairo: The characteristics of self-organised education of Syrian refugees in the urban context of 6th of October, Cairo
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Six years into the Syrian conflict, the crisis still figures prominently in international media, partly due to the increasingly dire situation of Syrian refugees. Education is one of the fields that has been highly impacted by the Syrian crisis and the risk of a “lost Syrian generation” is well known.

The five main recipients of Syrian refugees are Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Egypt is the only one of this group that does not share a border with Syria, but still faces substantial challenges from the influx of Syrian refugees. In terms of education, the country ranks higher than the others, with a reported school enrolment rate of Syrian refugees at 100 per cent. Nonetheless, this figure can be misleading.

Since approximately 2012, a new phenomenon has been identified in Egypt, which is the founding of Syrian community schools. While those schools are not officially recognised under Egyptian law, Syrian students attend them regularly and only register in Egyptian public schools to take the state-recognised final exams.

This thesis investigates this new system of self-organised schools in order to explore how and why they developed as well as to specify their characteristics, potentials and challenges in the Egyptian context. In order to answer these questions, Giddens’ structuration theory was chosen as the analytical method because it allows the investigation of the relationship between the agency of Syrian communities and the structure of the Egyptian context. Additionally, existing research material regarding education as a coping strategy and education in emergencies (EiE) was reviewed and included in order to offer a comprehensive understanding of the state of education in the field of humanitarian action.

By conducting semi-structured interviews with Syrian community schools and combining them with the previous desk study, this thesis found seven reasons that led to the foundation of the schools: bureaucracy, economic opportunities for Syrians, humanity, Syrian drop-outs, the teaching environment in Egyptian schools, transmitting Syrian culture, and traumatised children. Apart from those reasons, common characteristics include the inability to get licensed as a school and subsequent challenges like the difficulty to obtain funding or the uncertain legal situation.

Overall it was found that much depends on the Egyptian structural context, although the Syrian community, as an agent, still has a certain degree of freedom to act. Thanks to this freedom, community schools have developed as a way to cope with the Egyptian context, thus creating complimentary structures to the pre-existing ones. It remains to be seen, however, the way this develops in the future.

Nonetheless, one challenge that stands out and that is well known in the field of education in emergencies is the general underfunding of Syrian community schools. This needs to be addressed properly by both the Egyptian government and by international donors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , 77 p.
Keyword [en]
Syrian refugees, community schools, Cairo, 6th of October, structuration theory, coping, self-organised education, education in emergencies
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-324392OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-324392DiVA: diva2:1110059
Subject / course
International Humanitarian Action
Educational program
Master Programme in International Humanitarian Action
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-15 Created: 2017-06-15 Last updated: 2017-06-15Bibliographically approved

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