Syrian youth’s literacy levels are promising but they need more support to thrive in life and work, according to UNESCO study

UNESCO Beirut has recently published a study conducted in 2021, titled “Literacy and life skills assessment of Syrian youth”. It reveals that the majority of youth aged 15-24 in Syria meet the minimum expected competency levels in literacy (54.4 percent), numeracy (52.37 percent) and life skills (58.45 percent), according to their overall performance.

The minimum proficiency levels achieved by Syrian youth look promising despite the challenges they may face, such as their economic conditions, especially in the rural areas. Targeted programmes such as alternative learning pathways and other non-formal education initiatives can go a long way in helping out-of-school youth gain the necessary literacy skills or improve their skills further. This in turn could give them better opportunities to find decent work and lead a better life.

As a highlight, the performance of youth achieving minimum competency levels in literacy, numeracy and life skills shows a distinct gap between rural and urban scores, indicating that there is a need to target interventions more among rural youth.

Youth also indicated that the absence of a personal computer or laptop, followed by the absence of power, problems with mobile signals, financial difficulties, the non-availability of smartphones, and non-availability of TVs, were the main reasons for not attending online classes. Attending to household chores and having to go for work were other reasons unrelated to hardware and connectivity. Hardware, connectivity, and flexible classes schedules are thus elements to be kept in mind while considering remote learning as a mode for alternative learning programmes.

Finally, the core skills related to Active Citizenship/Learning to Live Together – which are also emphasized in SDG Target 4.7 – are critical. The study results have been very encouraging, with a high percentage of youth responding to the socio-emotional skills, which indicates that the life skills education components, in both formal and non-formal learning programmes in Syria, are having a positive impact on the learners. This may be further strengthened, especially for out of school youth seeking employment.


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