Tags / School For Refugee Children
Food, shelter, money for clothes... Education is not on the top list of priorities for many refugee families who have to struggle in their everyday life. Investing money to register their children at school is sometimes impossible in these conditions.
The first barrier for Syrian education is language: “Syrian children - especially those above 12 years old- face challenges as they would be completely adapted to the Syrian curriculum- when studying the Lebanese curriculum. In Syria, all subjects are taught in Arabic while either French or English are the language of instruction in Lebanon”, explains Aseel Jammal Caballero, from UNHCR. In the camp, young children learn very fast, according to their French and English volunteer teachers. But the older ones usually have to help adults to work, in construction for boys, nurse or couture for girls.
Mustapha was a teacher in Qusayr. Long enough to design books and exercise books for the children of the camp. Here, Syrians did not wait for NGO’s: since they arrived in Lebanon two years ago, they built two school classes in the camp. All their children get up at 8 am to sing their lesson in Arabic or memorize mathematic rules.
School for Refugees
The majority of the more than 150,000 Syrians who have fled to Turkey are children. Although many are sheltering in Turkey's state run refugee camps, a countless number are living under the radar, in the border cities like Antakya. For those Syrian children, many of whom have been traumatized by their experiences of the war, Turkey does not and cannot provide public education.
“Some children have been out of school for almost one or two years," according to Ted Chaiban, UNICEF’s head of emergency operations.
The privately-funded Albashayer School in Antakya was founded 18 month ago to address the needs of Antakya's Syrian children.
In the beginning, the school provided education in Arabic for just 16 Syrian children. In three months, the number had quadrupled, according to the school principal, Sally Albunni, herself a refugee from Hama. Now over 500 students flood through the front gates every morning, and numbers are increasing.
"Every day we have new students," says Albunni. The school just opened a new branch, so now it occupies two full apartment buildings. Total number of students served is currently over 800. Students arrive in two shifts, in order to accommodate as many as possible. Others are on a waiting list. In addition to learning math, science, arabic, Turkish and art, a school psychologist helps them work through difficult emotions. Needy children receive new clothes that have been donated.
According to UNICEF, half of the 4 million affected Syrians are children living in the worst conditions and suffering from the psycho-social effects of the violence they witness on a daily basis.
At the Albashayer School, signs of trauma are everywhere, from the playground, where children participate in violent play, to the art room, where student's drawings depict tanks, blood, soldiers and guns.
But after a few weeks, Albunni says she sees improvement. The children are very resilient, and happy to be in school.
"We want to remove everything about the war," says the principal.
"We want to see them happy and playing normally."
In Meshmesh, an isolated village near the Syrian border, the volunteer of Relief&Reconciliation teach French and English in a school without heating where children can hardly concentrate because of the cold. One of them smiles as he just received his certificate of French. But at 15 years old, he says he will not join the Lebanese school, because he needs to work to help his family to survive.
At the Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee's upper school, Emine Kusa leads a Turkish class to eighth grade students. The school opened nearly two years ago when refugees began arriving in Turkey. The school recently opened a second building to accommodate a rapidly expanding student population.
Rafah Al Tinawie sets up a DVD player to show a video-story to her students. Al Tinawie teaches human resources at the Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children, where she tries to help them overcome the trauma many have experienced.
Teacher Rafah Al Tinawie counsels a student outside class at the Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children. Al Tinawie says many children show signs of trauma and she sometimes meets with parents to understand what problems the children are facing.
Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children's lower school is housed in a former apartment building on the outskirts of Antakya, near the border with Syria. Children attend in two shifts, morning and afternoon.