Press release

Two Shifts – Two Nationalities

Joint research project Double Shift: Jordan provides schooling for school-age refugee children from Syria

The morning’s lessons are for the Jordanian children, in the afternoon it’s the Syrians’ turn. Jordan is using a model called Double Shift in order to provide schooling for hundreds of thousands of school-age refugee children from neighbouring, war-torn Syria, alongside Jordanian pupils. How is a small country like Jordan able to overcome such a huge challenge? The WZB Berlin Social Science Center and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) undertook a joint research project to examine the Jordanian school system. The research analyses if the Double Shift system could set an example for other countries dealing with issues of education and migration. The results of the project will be documented on the multimedia Double Shift website. 

Jordan first put the Double Shift system in place in 1960 as an answer to crowded classrooms in the country’s state schools. Today, with more than 400 thousand additional children from Syria, Double Shift has proven to be an effective instrument in providing these children with an education and helping them to integrate into Jordanian society.

There are currently one hundred Double Shift schools in the country. Based on social science and design methods, the interactive Double Shift website features pictures, videos, and graphics to provide comprehensive documentation of everyday school life in Jordanian schools during the Syrian conflict.

Steffen Huck, the Director of the Economics of Change Research Unit at WZB, said: “The results of the project showcase the country’s success at integrating Syrian refugee children, although everyday school life still faces challenges caused by lack of resources such as water, heating, and cooling. Although the teachers are working hard to deliver positive results, the project is facing concerns about the fact that Jordanian and Syrian pupils are taught separately.”

Heike Harmgart, the EBRD Head of the Resident Office in Jordan, said: “Investment in education is vital to Jordan – a country poor in resources – as children are the future of the country. The Double Shift system could set an example for other countries looking to open up their school system to migrants and refugees.”

The Jordanian economy could benefit from investing in sending Syrian refugee children to school. First and foremost, the Double Shift system requires relatively few financial resources to give children a school education. The “Benefits Through Education” analysis demonstrates that if the remaining 79,500 registered Syrian refugee children who have yet to be integrated into the school system received an education through Double Shift, Jordan’s economy would stand to gain $266 million.

Double Shift started out as part of the Visual Society Program, a collaboration between WZB and the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) initiated by David Skopec. The program is notable for the way in which designers and social scientists work together and carry out joint research. The team behind the project is made up of Steffen Huck, the Director of the Economics of Change Research Unit at WZB, Heike Harmgart, the Head of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development's Resident Office in Amman, Jordan, the designers Paula Ellguth, Marjam Fels and the research fellow Philipp Albert (all three from WZB). The team took two extended trips to Jordan, spending several weeks visiting schools, speaking to headteachers and representatives from NGOs (UNICEF, United States Agency for International Development) as well as government ministries and parents. Workshops were also used to give school pupils a chance to air their hopes and aspirations.

The Double Shift website can be found here.



Press contacts:

Prof. Dr. Steffen Huck
Director of the Research Unit
Economics of Change
Fon: 030 – 25491-421
Mail: steffen.huck [at]


Kerstin Schneider
WZB Information and Communication Department
Fon: 030 – 25491-506
Mail: kerstin.schneider [at]