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Syrian children learn in tent schools… How could they strive for excellence?

150 students receive education in a worn-out tent in camps east of Kafr Arouk village, north of Idlib - 12 March 2020

150 students receive education in a worn-out tent in camps east of Kafr Arouk village, north of Idlib - 12 March 2020

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Enab Baladi – Idlib

Under a canvas roof, which does not protect against the noise caused by wind and the surroundings, nor from low or high temperatures, and in a small space crowded by eight people, Roua al-Saeed spent hours studying. 

The voices of the camp residents and the vehicles passing through it accompanied her during her academic year, which has been disrupted due to the closure of educational facilities to contain the spread of the “novel coronavirus (COVID-19). However,  all those factors did not stop her from obtaining 279 scores out of 280 in the Basic Education Certificate.

Between available and required in tent camps

The living conditions in the displacement camps are “all difficult,” the head of the basic education department in Idlib governorate, Mohmoud al-Basha, highlighted. 

Al-Basha, in an interview with Enab Baladi, said that the absence of health housing, the spread of dust, the limited electric power provided by solar panels create further obstacles for students, with the noise and overcrowding.  

Roua al-Saeed, a displaced student from Khan Sheikhoun and resident of the al-Amal camp in Bab al-Hawa, told Enab Baladi that her insistence on success is what helped her overcome these difficulties, pointing to the support of her parents despite their frequent displacement during the school year.  

The displacement camps are not “ignored” by the education directorate, according to al-Basha. The camps have been provided with all possible equipment and logistics; tents and special rooms have been set up for children’s education in cooperation with relief organizations, and from donations from community members.

However, according to al-Basha, the needs of students exceed what was offered, as isolated rooms are essential for students’ excellence, with the provision of enrichment courses during the supplementary examinations stage, and the provision of necessary stationery and books for students, many of whom cannot afford their costs.

Learning under bombing 

Salsabil al-Kadu has been displaced from her hometown in the western countryside of Idlib, with her family repeatedly since 2012 until they settled in al-Kamouneh camp in Sarmada in the northern countryside of Idlib.

Al-Kadu is entangled in precarious lives, sharing modest housing with a large number of family members (13 members), yet, she obtained a full mark in the scientific branch of her Certificate of Secondary Education.

Al-Kadu dreams of studying medicine, and while she feels “proud” of her degree in Idlib, she hopes to pursue her studies in Turkey to obtain a recognized degree.

398,000 students were forced to flee their homes between December 2019 and last February, in the recent wave of displacement, but they were not sufficiently secure, according to a report released on 21 August by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

According to the report, the area lost 277 schools after they turned into centers for sheltering the displaced in Afrin, al-Bab, Azaz, Ariha, Harem, Idlib, and Jisr al-Shughour, while the bombing destroyed more than 300 schools, affecting 117 thousand children and more than five thousand teachers.

 

The report pointed out that the closure of schools due to the novel coronavirus since 14 March, and reopening them for temporary periods “has aggravated the problem,” while “the lack of financial support constitutes an additional obstacle to providing support and training for teachers and educational personnel, and offering educational materials for children.”

The lack of funding coincided with the continuously deteriorating security situation and the constant displacement, and students in their new displacement areas resorted to educational facilities that were already under pressure due to the long years of war.

During the current academic year, 2,059 male and female students living in the camps took the exams that took place last July, out of 12,000 students who took their exams in Idlib for the primary and secondary certificates, according to the data provided by the Director of the Media Office of the Education Directorate, Mustafa Haj Ali, to Enab Baladi. The passing rate is 68 percent for basic education students, 68.4 percent for high school students in the science branch, and 53 percent for students in the literary branch.

 

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