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At a glance: Syrian Arab Republic

School clubs help conflict-affected Syrian children access remedial education

© UNICEF Syria Arab Republic/2013/Youngmeyer
Across the Syrian Arab Republic, school clubs – like this one in Tartous Governorate – are providing internally displaced children the chance to catch up on missed learning.

By David Youngmeyer

DAMASCUS, Syria/AMMAN, Jordan, 21 November 2013 – Despite the extraordinary challenges of operating in the midst of conflict, UNICEF-supported school clubs in the Syrian Arab Republic have reached close to 290,000 children with remedial education and recreation activities.

The Syrian conflict is taking a serious toll on school infrastructure, limiting educational opportunities for children across the country. Over 4,000 schools – one out of five – are damaged or destroyed, or they are being used to shelter displaced families.

Many children have lost one or even two years of schooling, while others have dropped out, with little chance of returning to school or benefitting from alternative learning opportunities. Close to 2.3 million children are out of school in Syria or at risk of dropping out.

A chance to participate

To address urgent education needs, UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and other partners are running hundreds of school clubs around the country. The school clubs provide an opportunity for children aged 5 to 18 to participate in remedial classes and benefit from psychosocial support through recreational activities such as sports and music, while under the care of qualified teachers and counselors.

© UNICEF Syria Arab Republic/2013/Youngmeyer
A girl receives new stationary supplies, Tartous Governorate. UNICEF, in coordination with the Ministry of Education and other partners, has established more than 830 clubs in 11 of the country’s 14 governorates.

Some school clubs operate in school compounds, while others are based in centres run by NGOs or in shelters for displaced families.

“The school clubs aim to improve children’s learning performance and prevent children from dropping out, or help them to re-enter school,” says Tomoya Sonoda, UNICEF Syria Education Specialist.

UNICEF, along with the Ministry of Education and the sector partners, has established more than 830 school clubs to enable 287,000 children to access remedial catch-up classes and recreational activities in 11 of Syria’s 14 governorates – coverage well beyond the target of 260,000 children set in the 2013 Syrian Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan.

Help for the future

“I’m very happy to be here and have so many friends here,” says Amal*, 10, who was displaced from Homs and has been attending a UNICEF-supported school club in Tartous governorate for more than six months. Amal has lived with her family in the host community, for more than two years, sharing a house with another family.

© UNICEF Syria Arab Republic/2013/Youngmeyer
A school club in Tartous Governorate. In addition to remedial classes, the clubs – staffed with qualified teachers and counsellors – offer psychosocial support through recreational activities such as sport and music.

“I like learning Arabic the best,” says Amal, who also takes part in drawing, singing and sports sessions at the club.

Another child attending the same school club since last year, 9-year-old Sami, was displaced from Aleppo.

“I enjoy it here,” he says. “Math and Arabic are my favourites, because they will help my future.” Sami lives with his family and eight other families in a shelter in a factory building.

UNICEF also recently undertook successful advocacy efforts with the Ministry of Education to keep schools open during the summer holidays, which allowed 122 schools in 9 governorates to remain open between July and August. This meant that children could access remedial classes based on the national curriculum covering four core subjects –Arabic, mathematics, science and English.

Funding from the State of Kuwait has allowed the provision of essential educational support for children in the Syrian Arab Republic, including in hard-to-reach, conflict-affected areas such as in rural Homs.

*Names have been changed.



UNICEF Photography: Syrian crisis

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