Syria’s education system suffered greatly during the war: schools were destroyed, teachers were killed or fled, and children are severely traumatized. How can education succeed again in this extreme situation? And what contribution can the SOS Children’s Villages make?
Those who visit the Syrian SOS Children’s Village Qudsayya experience cheerful and curious children: girls and boys gather around the visitor and ask “What’s your name?” Or “Where are you from?”. However, it turns out that the conversation in English quickly reaches its limits. Why is that?
The school system of Syria suffered a lot during the six years of war. Three factors play a crucial role: schools and educational institutions are damaged or destroyed. Many teachers have died. More teachers, like many other academic professions, have left the country.
But also the children have been through a lot, which makes it difficult to follow a regular day again with school, homework and other activities. A child who has suffered the loss of relatives or friends and carries around with them has a hard time focusing on the school or other things that seem natural to us. There is much talk of an “uprooted generation of Syria”.
The children in the SOS Transitional Home Qura Al-Assad receive remedial instruction in small groups to catch up with the material missed during the war.
Teacher training in the SOS Home Qura Al-Assad
Volunteers of the “Red Crescent Syria” at the holiday program with the children of the SOS Children’s Village Qudsayya
Ahmad Aladdin is responsible for Education at SOS Syria, his title is Education Officer. His biography is exactly the opposite of that of many of his colleagues: while others left Syria, he came. He used to be a teacher at an international school in Dubai. Now he organizes tutoring lessons at SOS Syria, teacher training sessions, office hours for parents with teachers at the schools and much more.
“The quality of public schools naturally fell in the years of the conflict. We try to make up for it as well as possible and find out which child needs which support so that it can catch up. “
Education Officer of SOS Children’s Villages Syria
His latest project: a “tutoring workshop” in the SOS Children’s Village Qudsayya. But Ahmad and his team are also active in the transitional homes of the SOS Children’s Villages, where children from war zones are admitted before it is clear what they can do. Young teachers learn in workshops on how to get away from the frontal lessons and even locked children motivated to participate. Many children need support in small support groups. First of all, the teachers have to learn how to deal well with the children whose traumatic prehistory has dug deep tracks in their behavior and in their feeling.
The school certificates in Syria are colorful. To show how proud each child can be, the credentials in the SOS Transitional Home Qura Al-Assad hang on the wall.
But also in the family strengthening programs, where around 380 children and their families are supported so that the family can stay together, the SOS Children’s Villages are active: social workers and psychologists ensure that the children go to school on a regular basis; that parents and teachers talk to each other when there are problems; that even under the weight of the war parents get a better sense of the importance of education and school for the children.
The children learn a lot more at the SOS Children’s Villages than what is on the syllabus:
Music lessons, joint crafts or workshops where children learn to better deal with themselves and others. How can I express my concerns in a group and stand up for my interests? Fairness and self-determination, self-confidence and peacefulness are not easy topics in a young life full of experience of violence. SOS Syria also works with other organizations here. Volunteers from the Syrian “Red Crescent” visit the children, again and again, to playfully learn such topics.
When asked what constitutes a good education, Ahmad answers: “Of course, it’s about getting a good education and training. But education is more: how can we not only give our children a good present but prepare them for their own future? We look for answers every day. “