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How to maximise the impacts of cash transfers for vulnerable adolescents in Jordan

Research reports

Written by Nicola Jones

Jordan’s population grew considerably in the last decade, as it took in more than a million Syrians fleeing civil war. With the support of the international community, the Government of Jordan has taken multiple measures to ensure refugees are housed, fed and educated. Compared to other countries in the region, results have been largely positive – yet significant gaps remain. Unemployment is exceptionally high, especially for Syrians, and most Jordanians are poorer today than they were a decade ago. Moreover, despite scaling up free education, primary education is not yet universal, with Syrian children particularly likely to be out of school.

UNICEF Jordan has invested heavily to improve school access and learning outcomes for children and adolescents from refugee and host communities. A key initiative to support extremely vulnerable Syrian and Jordanian households with school-aged children to access education is through a cash transfer programme, called Hajati, which is a ‘cash for education’ programme.

UNICEF also manages the Makani programme, a nationwide initiative implemented by local NGO and government partners. Makani teaches children life skills and provides learning support, child protection services and referrals. During the COVID-19 crisis, UNICEF has continued to support the most vulnerable children, including Syrian refugees, to access inclusive and quality education.

Despite reductions in funding and programming due to the protracted crisis in Syria (funds that have been partially restored since the outbreak of COVID-19), evidence suggests that both Hajati and Makani play key roles in helping young people access their right to an education. The question now is how to better tailor interventions to include those currently left behind and promote not just enrolment and access, but also better learning outcomes for all children and adolescents.

Within this broader context, this report has two objectives:

  • to identify economic barriers (e.g., costs of schooling, labour market ‘pull’ factors, and returns on investment to formal education) and non-economic barriers (e.g., school violence and legal constraints to enrolment) to education in Jordan, taking into consideration gender and disability status differences; and
  • to provide evidence-based recommendations for overcoming the barriers facing adolescents, especially those at risk of dropping out, with a particular focus on strengthening the Hajati cash transfer programme and maximising its synergies with Makani centres.