In more than ten years of war in Syria, an entire generation of children has known nothing but violence, insecurity and hardship. Not even half of public schools are in operation. "Most of those born in 2007 have never attended public school. At the age of 14, they would normally have been able to complete their basic education. But now they are considered as a lost generation that has no chance to develop and flourish," says Shahid Akbar, who leads the arche noVa projects with a longer-term horizon of providing sustainable education solution in northern Syria.
I want to learn like any other kid in the world.
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School courses and psychosocial support
Nehaya is one of the first children to enroll in one of our learning centers. At the age of 13, she is now learning to read, write and do math in a three-month school course.
At our school centers, there are not only classrooms, but also schoolyards with slides, swings and plenty of space for playing together. Our project also offers psychosocial support to the often traumatized children and their parents. A large proportion of the children and young people live under precarious living conditions, often in informal camps outside villages. We rent space, or set up our tents or caravans particularly in those locations where schooling was previously out of reach and many children have a lot of catching up to do.
Many children lack the self-confidence and skills to follow lessons at all. We want to strengthen the children, promote their independence, structure their daily lives, offer protected spaces to play and, of course, impart knowledge.
Teaching skills and boosting well-being
In the three-month school courses with intensive instruction in Arabic, mathematics, science and English, the children and young people receive a basic education that enables them to transfer to a regular school. The structured daily routine, which corresponds to their age, also provides the children, many of whom have been traumatized, with a measure of stability and thus hope for the future. Education has a direct impact on the children's self-confidence and well-being. Eventually, education is the most important precondition to escape or prevent poverty and to have the chance for a better life. Our project also offers teachers the chance to improve their methodological and didactic skills. Most teachers share the experiences of danger and displacement, as do the children and young people. They can empathize well with the needs of the children and young people and support them while they themselves can resume their professional careers.
At a glance: arche noVa education project in Northern Syria
- Target group: 10,800 students between the ages of 6 and 14 and 140 staff members (mostly teachers)
- Goal: Strengthening the resilience of Syrian children and young people as well as Syrian teachers through access to school education.
- Background: After ten years of war, more than half of the schools in the project area have been destroyed, 41% of school children do not attend classes
- Project: Informal schooling in the form of basic literacy and numeracy preparatory courses
- Project preparation: Engaging Education partners and working groups, Formation of villagec committees to ensure community participation, Renting and equipping classrooms including sports and playgrounds, Identenfiation, Placement test and enrollment of target children, Curricula development and syllabus division, Teachers recuritment and training
- Focus: Teaching basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic
- Integrated Component: Psychosocial support for children and their parents
- Accompanying: "Back to School" awareness campaign for parents
- Region: Northern Syria
- Duration: 2021 until end of 2022
Children without education face long-term threats
Syrian children are victims of some of the most severe human rights abuses, including indiscriminate attacks on schools, the use of children in war and displacement. In many cases, they do not even have access to humanitarian aid. The COVID-19 pandemic and deteriorating economic situation have further exacerbated the difficult living conditions of children and youth in Syria in recent months. In many regions, there is no schooling, and children are enrolled late or not at all. Many drop out of school early. Child labor and early marriages are reasons for that. Particularly girls are vulnarable to sexual violence. Regular school attendance and education, on the other hand, are the most important preventive measures. Those who go to school have the chance to earn their own income and are much less likely to slip into crime or radicalization.
More information about the project can be found here.