Norwegian Refugee Council Youth Programme

Country Profile: Jordan


7,215,000 (2013)

Official Language


Poverty headcount ratio at $2 PPP (% of population):

2% (2013)

Access to primary education, total net enrolment rate (NIR)

87.52% (2012)

Total youth literacy rate (15 – 24 years)

Total: 99.23%, Male: 99.11%, Female: 99.37% (2015)

Adult literacy rate (15 years and over)

Total: 98.01%, Male: 98.51%, Female: 97.49%. (2015)

Statistical sources

UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Programme Overview

Programme TitleNorwegian Refugee Council Youth Programme
Implementing OrganizationNorwegian Refugee Council
Language of InstructionArabic
FundingThe programme is currently funded by UNICEF and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Programme PartnersUNICEF, the European Union, British Council and the UN High Commissioner for Refugeesw (UNHCR)
Annual Programme CostsEach youth training centre costs roughly JOD 400,000 per year including direct staffing and programme costs.
Annual programme cost per learner: Depending on the number of students, the training cost can vary between JOD 250–400 per learner (roughly estimated)
Date of Inception2012

Country Context

As of December 2015, the vast majority of refugees in Jordan are Syrian (UNHCR, 2016c). Approximately 21.5 per cent of them live in camps, with the remainder living in host communities (UNHCR, 2016b). There are three different refugee camps: Za’atari, Emirati Jordanian Camp (EJC) and Azraq. Za’atari is host to the highest number of Syrian refugees in Jordan. UNHCR’s statistics show that refugees aged between 18 and 35 are the single biggest age group, accounting for 29 per cent of total refugee numbers, (UNHCR, 2016b).

In the 2014/15 school year, there were 129,342 refugees enrolled in public schools in Jordan while, of these, 23,227 were enrolled in education programmes in refugee camps (UNICEF, 2015). Nonetheless, most young people aged 19–24 in the Za’atari camp have not completed either high school or university. Part of the issue is that formal post-secondary education is not offered in camps. Looking at the big picture, about 50 per cent of young Syrian refugees do not have access to the type of secondary education that they would have experienced in Syria; and about 25 per cent of young Syrian refugees who were enrolled in university do not have access to higher or tertiary education opportunities. In general, a great number of adolescent Syrian refugees are not in school. The situation is worse for girls who also often face gender-related barriers, such as the security risk they sometimes experience on their way to school (NRC, 2016).

According to Jordanian national regulations, while Syrian refugees should have access to government schools until the age of 16, they have limited rights to work. Those who live in refugee camps are not allowed to leave the camps and look for work opportunities unless granted special permission from the Jordanian authorities. In the camps, it is reported that there are more opportunities for incentive-based labour and to open informal business in the Za’atari camp than in the remaining two, which are more isolated and where the living conditions are hasher (NRC, 2016). Furthermore, in Za’atari, UNHCR and other agencies are working to provide services through a ‘Cash for Work’ initiative through which refugees are remunerated for supporting partners’ programming within the camp. Eight per cent of refugees in this camp had been involved in this initiative as of June 2016 (UNHCR 2016a).

To improve leaving conditions by financial means, the Jordanian government announced a series of economic and development initiatives in February 2016 which would ‘unlock the economic potential of refugees by setting their course towards self-reliance, whilst at the same time strengthening the resilience of host communities most impacted by the influx of refugees in recent years’(UNHCR 2016d, p. 2). As a result of UNHCR’s advocacy efforts, several universities are now offering courses at discounted rates for Syrian students, increasing their tertiary education opportunities.


Programme Overview

The Youth Programme in Jordan has operated since 2012. It is adapted from the model of the Youth Education Pack (YEP) developed by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an independent humanitarian organisation helping people forced to flee from their native countries and communities. YEP was first created and implemented in 2003 with the aim of responding to the education and training needs of conflict-affected youth in different countries. A typical YEP is built on three components (a three-pillar model), namely literacy and numeracy skills, transferable skills/life skills (based on the country-specific context, including business, health, IT skills, as well as art, drama and sports), and vocational skills (with projects oriented to technical and vocational education and training). The Youth Programme generally adheres to this model though it has a stronger emphasis on youth development and flexibly to adapt to the evolving country context. This includes making changes in course offerings, connecting young people with higher education options, linking youth with their communities, and building partnership with distance learning providers. The Jordan programme targets young people aged betwen 15 and 32.

Currently, the NRC Youth Programme is the largest-scale structured initiative offering learning opportunities to Syrian refugees in the three refugee camps. It serves more than 4,200 young people in four youth centres: two in Za’atari (Za’atari D10 opened in June 2013 and Za’atari D8 opened in February 2015), one in EJC (opened in March 2014), and one in Azraq (opened in February 2015). Of those who have enrolled since 2012, 2,700 have graduated and continue to be supported by NRC staff and Syrian teachers. The programme is widely perceived as relevant and effective among participants and stakeholders in Jordan.

Aims and Objectives

Through the establishment of youth centres, provision of learning opportunites, and advocacy and coordination activities, the programme aims to:

Programme Implementation

Programme Content

In the context of Jordan, the Youth Programme aims to be ‘context-specific, youth centred, and youth-development-focused’ (NRC, 2016, p. 10) and is independent of the NRC’s education unit. Education and training for young people are offered during a three-month period, with courses including:

In the case of literacy and numeracy courses, the NRC Youth Programme in Jordan has taken different approaches to supporting young people with low literacy skills, depending on the context and stage of the course. To avoid duplication, this can be done in collaboration with other agencies that have already offered literacy classes. NRC also offers its own targeted literacy (in Arabic) and (basic) numeracy classes for young people who are identified through self-identification or teacher observation in the first few days of the training courses. In courses such as IT, literacy and numeracy are prerequisite skills that students must acquire before they can join the courses, in order to operate the computer software. In other courses, such as hairdressing/beauty, tailoring, students are able to participate even though they are not able to read and write, and can take literacy and numeracy classes along with their training courses. In some situations where the need for targeted literacy training is low, students who need additional support in literacy and numeracy receive tutorial support from teachers at the end of the skills training classes.

In Za’atari District 8 (there are 12 districts in the Za’atari camp), an additional three-month follow-up programme has been implemented (soon to be available in Azraq) to provide opportunities for graduates and other skilled young people to practise their skills and contribute to camp community development. So far, the follow-up programme has had a high level of retention and received positive responses from participants and the community. NRC has been approached by many agencies to request that the participants conduct projects for the community, for example, the production of wooden beds for people with disabilities in Za’atari camp, and the rehabilitation of desks for Ministry of Education schools.

One important feature of this programme is that it changes course offerings periodically in order to adapt to the needs of young people as well as the country context. This approach makes the programme unique among youth programmes. Another feature is its focus on advocacy for youth empowerment which can take several forms involving different stakeholders (UNFPA , UNESCO, UNHCR and other NGOs).


Recruitment and Training of Facilitators

Courses at youth training centres are facilitated by motived Syrian teachers who are recruited from the refugee community. NRC uses flyers to announce vacancies around camp districts and mosques. Interested candidates fill out a form with questions concerning their education and previous relevant experience. Qualified applicants are invited for interview to demonstrate their communication skills, knowledge and experience. Those who pass the interview round are requested to prepare and deliver a demonstration class to show their potential as teachers. Newly hired teachers start with a one-month probation period, which is followed by a renewable six-month teaching role (Fean and Daabes, 2015).

NRC gives careful consideration to the recruitment process, which requires teachers to have experience in teaching skills, motivation and an aptitude for teaching in order to successfully address the complex educational needs of refugee youth. In the recruitment process, the knowledge, skills and experience of the applicants are prioritized over educational qualifications. However, additional training for teachers is offered as required. In 2015, reflective teacher development training, designed on the basis of teachers’ needs and interests, was given in Za’atari refugee camp. The seven workshops included in the training were aimed at developing specific teachers’ competencies, namely: collaboration with colleagues, focus on students, self-awareness, creativity and teaching methods, lesson planning, gathering information on problems, and problem-solving. In addition, preliminary, middle and final assessments were conducted to ensure their needs were being covered (Fean and Daabes, 2015).

Teachers are paid according to the regulated Incentive-Based Volunteering Scheme in camps, which is followed by all implementing agencies.

According to an external evaluation, teachers in the programme are reported to have high morale and an interest in investing in the programme’s outcomes.

Learners’ Enrolment, Retention and Learning Assessment

The programme is open to everyone aged from 15 to 32. So far, this has been the only criteria for participation. A criterion concerning student vulnerability is expected to be introduced by the end of 2016. Students participate in the programme primarily on the basis of self-motivation.

Each class usually has between 15 and 20 participants (the maximum number is 25). To support teachers and students with children aged between two and five, especially female students, day care facilities have been offered in the Za’atari and Azraq centres.

On completion of the course, learners receive a certificate issued by the programme. However, these certificates are not officially accredited.

Completion rates vary between genders and across the camps. For example, according to an internal survey conducted by NRC, the percentage of male drop-outs was higher than female drop-outs. The highest percentage for males is in Azriq (52 per cent), followed by Za’atari (44 per cent) District 10 and EJC (32 Per cent). The drop-out rate for females is also highest in Azriq (34 per cent), followed by Za’atari (32 per cent) District 10 and EJC (24 per cent). This has been a major concern for NRC.


Monitoring and Evaluation

In addition to evaluations conducted by NRC, an external evaluation was conducted by the Women’s Refugee Comission (WRC) in 2016. While NRC has undertaken assessments of the needs of affected populations as well as current students’ and teachers’ needs, the report by WRC assessed overall programme implementation. More information on the evaluation’s results can be found in the Lessons Learned section of this case study.

Impact and Challenges

Impact and Achievements

By December 2015, the programme, with the support of 70 Syrian and 23 Jordanian staff, had served more than 4,200 young people in the four centres. It has been well received by refugee communities, and most students registered for courses more than once, which indicates both the relevance of the courses and students’ satisfaction with them. NRC has also played an instrumental role in ensuring the needs of young people are recognized, engaging young people with communities, and raising the profile of youth issues through their activities. Overall, the programme is reported to have brought about changes both socially and in terms of economic empowerment.


Before the programme my friends looked at me like, ‘Where are you going, what are you doing [with your life]?’ Now they see me wearing new clothes that I made myself [in the tailoring course] … learning new things, getting a little stronger and better.
From a focus group discussion with male programme participants, 19-32 years old.
[In my experience with] ICDL [International Computer Driving Licence], it’s enough to bring the refugee from non-educated to being confident and being able to deal with everyone in the camp. Also, I was able to make more friends than I ever thought I would have. The staff support the participants, making me more confident in myself, more creative. Also they have a day-care [facility] so any parent can bring their child here while they learn new skills. [The programme has] brought a lot of change to a lot of participants here. I cannot describe in words the change we have been through here.
From a focus group discussion with male graduates, 19–32 years old, in Za’atari.



Lessons Learned

Overall, the decision to experiment with a more flexible model in the Youth Programme in Jordan has been successful. The relevance of the courses, and an approach that allows it to change course offerings periodically, fits well with the needs of refugee youth. However, a commissioned report by the Women’s Refugee Commission, makes a number recommendations for improvement:


Since inception, the Youth Programme has been positively received by the refugee communities. There have been recommendations from young people to establish more youth centres, though this is unfeasible due to the limited budget and stable population at the camps. A feasible scaling-up plan is to expand the programme to urban areas where it can be integrated into exisiting Jordanian structures and facilities in order to serve both refugees and host communities.

Within the organization, there is potential for synergies between the programmes and other NRC core competencies, such as education, gender and livelihoods. Collaborations with other agencies through advocacy and coordination acitvities have also been among the prominent features which makes the implementation of the programme sutainable. For example, in terms of teacher recruitment, recruitment notices, outreach and registration activities are shared in coordination meetings. Also, through coordination groups, there have been instances where teacher training has been offered by one agency for teachers working for other agencies.





Paul Fean
Youth Project Manager
Norwegian Refugee Council Jordan
Shmeisani, Amman

Last update: 9 November 2016