At a glance: Syrian Arab Republic

Syrian children with disabilities are back to learning, at Homs school club

© UNICEF Video
As the Syrian crisis enters its fourth year, access to schooling remains a significant challenge for the country’s children. At one centre in Homs, helping children with disabilities continue their learning is top priority.  Download this video

 

By Kumar Tiku and Razan Rashidi

HOMS, Syrian Arab Republic, 7 April 2014 – Ramez, 10, walks up to the whiteboard and writes his name.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Syrian Arab Republic/2014/Rashidi
Ramez, 10, is among children who attend the centre, which is run by the educational charity Al Rajaa with UNICEF support. According to the school manager, 11 per cent of children in Homs are born with special needs.

Next comes Hiba, who is asked to identify objects that start with the letter G in Arabic that are pictured on the whiteboard. She identifies gazr (carrot), earning praise from the teacher. The other children in the class clap, in unison.

Ramez and Hiba are among the 125 children with special needs who attend Al Rajaa school club in the Enshaat neighbourhood of Homs.

A space to bridge schooling

The programming for children, adolescents and youth with special needs like Ramez, Hiba and their classmates is held at a centre run by Al Rajaa, an educational charity supported by UNICEF with funding from the European Union. Al Rajaa carries out remedial education for children who need coaching to compensate for disruption in their formal schooling.

As the Syrian crisis enters its fourth year, children’s own displacement and the breakdown in the formal school infrastructure in the country have created much disruption in their education.

Rich programme of learning

According to the school manager, 11 per cent of children in Homs are born with special needs. The children have a range of disabilities, among which are autism and Down Syndrome.

Children and youth between the ages of 7 and 22 attend the special classes, which run in two shifts. In each shift, classes are divided into four batches to ensure that children can learn and play together with others of a similar age group and corresponding needs.

 The school club follows a curriculum geared towards building life skills for children with special needs. 

 Right now, the school club is running at optimal capacity. But more and more parents are coming in to enrol their children. And, as time passes, a growing proportion of children in the school club have physical disabilities related to the conflict.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Syrian Arab Republic/2014/Rashidi
A teacher and student at the school, where more and more parents are enrolling their children. As time passes, a growing proportion of children in the school club have physical disabilities related to the conflict.

The journey to school club

Diaa is 6.  He and his family live in a village 30 km from Homs. Today, his mother and father have brought him to school club in a mini truck. Diaa’s parents make sure he attends school club at least once a week. Diaa has physical and mental disabilities.

Diaa’s father says the family used to take Diaa to another centre. “Now, we cannot access the area, as it is under siege,” he says. He says that their area has been under military operation for more than a year.

Diaa’s got five brothers and sisters. All of them go to school, despite the violence around their village. One of the girls has just started university, but it is not easy for her to attend lessons, every day. With the increased security measures along roads and inside cities, transportation has been severely disrupted across cities and between rural areas and city centres.

“It takes us two to three hours to get here,” says Diaa’s mother. “Sometimes we wait for more than two hours at one checkpoint.”


 

 

UNICEF Photography: Syrian crisis

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