A new initiative for the education of children in northern Syrian camps

Syrian children at school in one of the camps in Idlib (Omar Haj Kaddour/AFP)

The education sector in the province of Idlib, northwestern Syria, is still one of the sectors that suffers from the greatest weaknesses and lack of support, either from humanitarian organizations or the authorities in the region, which has encouraged teachers in the region to launch several initiatives in which they are active volunteers, and provide free services to children. The latest of these initiatives took place in the informal camps of Kafr Jalis, in the governorate of western Idlib.

Nour al-Muhammad, a resident of the Kafr Jalis camps, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, “The reality of education in the camps is very difficult, and the nearest educational point is more than seven kilometers away from us, and this matter was the reason for the cessation of sending my 17-year-old daughter to school.” . Al-Muhammad added, “The camps lack schools, and no one has adopted a school or educational point. I have three other children, aged six, eight and ten, who have not yet received any education due to the lack of proper conditions, and my inability to I cover the costs of private schools in city centers.” The cost of educating one student is 600 US dollars, in addition to the cost of transportation, and that is very difficult for me.”

For his part, Yassin al-Nayef, who is also a displaced person, speaks to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, talking about “the first reason for the lack of education in the Salvation Government camps associated with Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham”. (former Al-Nusra Front)” and explains that “he made himself the ruler and does not provide any services to the poor in the camps.”

In a related context, a source from the Camps Authority in the region told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, who declined to be named for security reasons, that there are 12 random camps, while the number of families living in them is estimated at around 400. What As for children between the ages of six and 18, their number is estimated at around 500, and they are at risk of ignorance due to the impossibility of learning in private schools due to the high annual costs, in addition to the distance between the camps and that school.

Education of 80 children

Given the lack of financial support for the education sector in informal camps in the Kafr Galis area, it was a voluntary initiative launched by a group of teachers to provide free education to children between the ages of six and 10.

Muhammad Turki, a volunteer teacher in the Kafr Jalis camps, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, “The education sector is completely neglected, and if we do not work personally and teach children letters, words and numbers, we will find ourselves in front of an ignorant generation.” Turki added: “Several appeals were made to provide support in the camps, but to no avail. That’s why we started working voluntarily, knowing that we were dealing with 85 families.”

Turki points out: “The difficulties we face in the process of providing education to the children are the lack of paper materials and the lack of books, noting that the children’s parents are very poor and cannot afford to buy these supplies. Therefore, the students are divided into teams, and each team has a common the stationery they exchange with each other.”

Hasnaa, a teacher participating in the initiative, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that it “involves four male and female teachers providing free education to 80 primary school students,” noting that they used a small tent as a place to learn.

In this context, the residents of the camp express their satisfaction with what the teachers provide to their children. Yassin Al-Aaraj told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: “Education is the foundation of life. My seven-year-old son was not proficient in letters and numbers at the beginning of the school year. Now he can write letters, numbers and some short sentences.”

“Masarat”…another initiative

Mahmoud al-Salloum, head of school education at the “Masarat” distance education initiative, which provides free education to Syrian students in northern Syria, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “the initiative realizes a great lack in the education sector in Idlib province , especially in the camps for the displaced in northern Syria.” Governorate”. Al-Salloum adds: “Masarat has begun to find solutions to fill the deficit, and will expand in the coming years. Perhaps the most prominent of these solutions is the provision of distance education, as one teacher can supervise the education of a thousand students, as is now the case in Masarat .”

Al-Salloum explains that “Masarat adopts an interactive distance education system, which means that the teacher and students are in the same session, so the first one explains the ideas and the others can ask what they want,” noting that Masarat received five million free seats from “Microsoft Teams” after “the company received Microsoft licenses Masarat as an academic educational entity.

Al-Salloum continues: “Masarat is providing free education this year to more than 1,100 students in the third year of high school, in the literary and scientific branches, and in the ninth grade, who are staying in camps for the displaced in northwestern Syria. . In the coming years, we aim is to include larger numbers and bridge the deficit on a larger scale.”

According to the Syrian Response Coordinators team, more than 67 percent (more than 988 camps) of the camps in the northwestern regions of Syria do not contain educational points or schools, so children are forced to travel long distances amid various weather factors to acquire school education. It is important to note that the number of camps in northwestern Syria is 1,633 with 1,811,578 people, knowing that among them there are 514 random camps with 311,782 people.

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