#TeacherTuesday: Teaching in a Syrian Refugee Camp

Posted on Mar 18, 2014

This is the fourth of a series of ten educational impressions launched & executed in collaboration with UNESCO.

Mohammed teaching children in the Za’atari camp. Picture is courtesy of photographer Alaa Malhas

An educational impression of Syria by Aldo de Pape

One of the aims of this #TeacherTuesday campaign is to use the voice of teachers to highlight the many obstacles that can prevent a child from receiving a proper education.

Thus far we analysed the lack of school resources in Malawi, language diversity in Honduras and gender inequality in Afghanistan. Even though such blocking factors are extremely difficult to overcome, they are nowhere near as complex to alleviate as conflict.

Across many of the world’s poorest countries, armed conflict continues to destroy not just school infrastructure, but also the hopes and
 ambitions of a whole generation of children.[1]

Sadly there are too many countries in this world where such cases can be found. War is all over and has devastating effects on every element of the society it is in.

To put it into numbers, 57 million children in our world are currently not in school, even though they should be. Half of this number, a compelling 28,5 million, live in conflict affected countries. 22% of these children have a primary school age.

Statistics from July 2013 Policy paper (10) of EFA Report

One of the countries where conflict is currently at its most destructive is Syria. Through its #ChildrenofSyria campaign, UNICEF has been asking the world to continue to support the many kids who have been forced to fled their country due to the Syrian crisis.

One of these children is the 11 –year-old girl Dina – the youngest of a family of seven –  who describes the situation as follows: “We left Syria because of the bombs. People were dying.”

Her testimonial is very similar to that of teacher Mohammed: I was teaching in my school until it was completely destroyed, then I move to another school. Once all schools in the area had been completely destroyed, I left.”

Both Dina as well as Mohammed have fled to Jordan where they have found a temporary home in the Za’atari Camp.

Za’atari currently harbours an estimated 144.000 refugees of which 50,000 are children. The four schools on the premises have over 25,000 students registered who are being taught by an approximate number of 700 teachers and teaching assistants of Syrian and Jordanian nationality.

“The majority of teachers left Syria to come to Za’atari, but some have stayed doing humanitarian work for families there. And some keep teaching the students in villages.” Mohammed says.

Even though Mohammed is overall positive about the education provided in Za’atari, he also sees many challenges on many levels.

“Some of the children are still scared of school because they saw their schools being destroyed because of bombing and think the schools are like those in Syria. Some of them don’t come because they think they are not certified in Jordan but this is not true, they can all come. Some refuse to take the Jordanian curriculum and want their own Syrian curriculum. Sometimes some students don’t come to school because it’s very far away from their tent or caravan and are afraid to be targeted by the bad boys in the street.

The main challenge at this moment is to find sufficient funding to keep classes going as education faces a significant funding shortfall for interventions in both camps and host communities.

Mohammed concurs: “I wish that people keep supporting us here in the camp. The support by organisations like UNICEF and Save the Children in the camp is going very well but we still need more support. I hope we get back to Syria and if it lasts longer than I expect, I hope the standard of the school get better here so that it’s good for our children.”

The Syrian conflict has been ongoing for over 3 years with no end in sight. If we do not start to invest in education of the #ChildrenofSyria we might risk an entire generation to become uneducated, putting the country behind on so many levels when peace returns.

We sincerely hope that with our web-based platform we are soon able to give a voice to teachers in Syria or in other conflict situations so we can try to offer them some support on the level of learning.

What are your thoughts? Do let us know and send us an e-mail via info@aswegrow.org

Find out more about the #TeacherTuesday campaign on the UNESCO website directly.

[1] UNICEF Education Factsheet on Syria Refugees in Jordan

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