Lebanon: Educating Syria’s children
By Mona Monzer and Rakan Diab, Save the Children in Lebanon
After more than two years of civil war, families are still fleeing and young lives are in danger of being ruined: 200,000 displaced children are currently missing out on school.
Save the Children has been trying to change this, running education programmes for children who have fled Syria as well as for those in the communities hosting them.
It is vital that these children get an education, but the classes do more: teachers can help their pupils deal with the stress of having lost their homes and the life they knew. “Hasan was sitting far behind in class with his clothes always dirty,” says Asmaa, one of the teachers at a Save the Children program in North Lebanon for Syrian and Lebanese children.
“I gave him some additional exercises to do at home but he didn’t do any of them. Then one day I found out that he was also supporting the family, working with his father.” Hasan’s clothes were dirty from working in a pastry factory – he didn’t have time to change before school, much less do his homework. “I know that his life is not easy,” says Asmaa. “He is away from home and misses his old life. Hasan is a boy with big responsibilities.”
After just a few weeks of attending class, Hasan became more engaged and began to interact with the teacher. “Whenever I would ask him a question, he would answer quickly,” Asmaa says. “At the end of the sessions, he became much more confident and was very keen on finishing his homework and coming back into class to see his friends.”
Stability for displaced children
Save the Children has provided catch-up classes for more than 400 children in Tripoli since March this year. Teachers are noticing that Syrian children want to go to school. “Although many of the children have witnessed atrocities back in Syria, they are very excited to learn and happy with the new information they get in class”, says French teacher Hanane.
Small classes of just 12-15 pupils allow Lebanese and Syrian children to mingle and mean teachers can give equal attention to their charges. While the programme is having a hugely positive impact, there is still more to be done, says Save the Children education officer Nadine. “Save the Children is also training teachers on positive discipline and raising awareness among parents of the importance of education and interaction with children.” But, she adds, “more needs to be done with the children directly.”