Bayan’s Story: When dedication and opportunity meet, good things start to happen
Education is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate, the convention on the rights of the child puts it as a fundamental right for every child’s future. How does UNICEF help children fulfil their potential?
“Globally, 264 million children and adolescents do not have the opportunity to enter or complete school.”
You may know that education is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate, the convention on the rights of the child puts it as a fundamental right that is necessary for every child’s future. But how does UNICEF help children fulfil their potential? Especially children who have been denied the opportunity to any education throughout their childhood.
Today’s story is a success story of a young girl who fled the Syrian war 4 years ago with her family, came to Lebanon and proved that with the right access to opportunities, any child can thrive.
"When we first came to Lebanon, we used to hide every time we hear a plane or fireworks. We still fear the sound, but now we know better."
Bayan, 13 years old, came to Lebanon with no educational background. Fleeing a warzone has had a toll on her and her family. With time, Bayan felt safer, the fear and memories never went away, but using her own words, she now knows better. It didn’t take her long to enroll in an English learning center, where she spent 2 years honing and sharpening her language skills.
Meanwhile, Bayan proved to be a fast learner. She went from monolingual to bilingual in no time and started speaking English as good as anyone who has had a substantial English education. At her previous center, she’s been given the chance to translate for a group of 10 visitors for 10 days, going with them on visits across the country and being their interpreter for a part of the journey – all that, at the age of 12. She’s still in contact with some of the visitors and considers them to be friends with whom she can further practice English with.
If you were to meet her, you can see the pride in Bayan’s eyes. She outweighs whatever she lacks in her education with persistence and dedication.
I met Bayan during a visit to Mouvement Social, who with the support of UNICEF and funding from the UK and Australia Governments are implementing the Basic Literacy and Numeracy programme (BLN). The programme aims to enable children above the age of 10, who have no or limited literacy and numeracy skills, to receive basic knowledge to prepare them for a more advanced programme called Accelerated Literacy Programme (ALP). The goal is to develop the children’s capacity and skills and enable them to enter public schools eventually.
During the visit, Bayan quickly stood out as a fluent English speaker, to the point that the non-Arabic speakers who accompanied us, almost entirely relied on her for every bit of translation.
As the purpose of the programme is to ensure that every child has the opportunity to go back to school, Bayan is currently undergoing a basic education that will hopefully enable her to attend a school soon for the first time.
Some children go through the unthinkable, yet through education, a child can change his life, get a tighter grasp on a brighter future and achieve the unthinkable!