x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 August 2017

Spreading hope through education among Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon

The Education in Emergencies programme provides opportunity where previously there was none

Boys play with a school book at a UNHCR’s camp for Syrian refugees in south Lebanon. Mahmoud Zayyat / AFP
Boys play with a school book at a UNHCR’s camp for Syrian refugees in south Lebanon. Mahmoud Zayyat / AFP

As the Syrian conflict continues, many families make the risk-laden journey to one of Syria’s neighbouring countries. The UNHCR estimates that more than five million families have fled Syria in search of peace and stability. Lebanon is one of the countries that continues to witness a massive influx of refugees. These refugees are scattered all over the country.

In an effort to restore hope within Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon, Dubai Cares is partnering with the International Rescue Committee to provide education opportunities for children in these communities to engage in the learning process and build their future. Students from Sheikh Fneish Integrated Teaching Systems are a prime example of the commitment that Syrian refugees are showing towards the programme. They are receiving non-formal education through the Education in Emergencies: Evidence for Action programme, funded by Dubai Cares.

Before the programme began, students and the community had a largely indifferent attitude towards education as it was not a priority for parents. Since the start of the programme, this attitude has been shifting.

Changing the attitude of the students themselves along with the community is one of the primary goals of the programme. Maher Mohamad Al Moussa, a nine-year-old student is a real-life example of how successful the programme has been.

Maher came to Lebanon from Syria four years ago. Prior to the non-formal education classes, he had no opportunity to go to school in either Syria or Lebanon.At the start of the programme, Maher was not using his full potential and was performing far below his academic level. His parents showed little interest in education, and his behaviour in class was often disruptive.

After a year, Maher’s attitude towards learning and his behaviour in the classroom improved significantly. His academic levels improved, and this year Maher finally enrolled formally in the education programme in Lebanese public schools. He is now a Grade 2 student in Al Rawda Public School. Meanwhile, in the non-formal education schools he has become a “homework support” student who helps other children, and his overall attitude is incredibly helpful to his teachers and other pupils. Maher says, “My dream is to help other Syrian children access education like I did.”

Maher’s remedial tutor, Tahani Abbas, says that “Maher is always respectful in the classroom, one of the best motivated students, and shows self-preparation and improvement in his lessons and all subjects involved in the remedial programme.”

Maher is very happy to be named one of the best pupils, and had his picture captured on Snapchat for being one of those who had improved the most. His father concludes by saying, “Maher and his brother Adnan are leaders of a new generation of Syrian refugees who can spread hope to children all over the world.”