Deeply Moved to Teach Displaced Syrian Children
How Ruba is empowering a new generation to learn
Children’s laughter can be heard from outside the classroom as teacher Ruba holds special activities for her 9 -11 year-old students. They are eager to start a new school day full of learning and engaging activities at the educational center supported by UNICEF with Education Cannot Wait (ECW) funding.
“After being displaced, I had no job opportunity for a year.”
Ruba is a 41-year-old mother of five children who was forced to flee, lost her family’s home, and resettled in the countryside of Idleb in 2020. Prior to the event, she was working as a teacher for 12 years. “After being displaced, I had no job opportunity for a year, but I was touched by the urgent educational needs of displaced children. So, I started volunteering as a teacher at school, but my family and I suffered from the lack of financial support,” she said. Another challenge Ruba faced was the low educational level of her students, most of whom had suffered from a few years of interruptions to their education, in addition to the negative impacts of conflicts, violence and displacement.
From Volunteering to Employment
Ruba was finally offered a teaching position in the project in February 2021 and received training. Ruba is now one of teachers who tirelessly work for children’s dire needs in education despite the many challenges they face as they are themselves displaced. Ruba shares: "I used techniques and knowledge I learned from the training including effective teaching strategies - how to effectively make lessons plans, how to actively engage students with different abilities and learning styles, how to create safe learning environment for every child, how to identify signs of distress of children, and how to refer children to other support depending on their needs.” She also creates enjoyable learning activities and helps with the well-being of students.
“My lovely students designed a magazine expressing their feelings through drawings that reflected their displacement struggles. I also encouraged students to express their future dreams such as becoming doctors, teachers and engineers."
Addressing Displaced Students’ Needs
Education tools such as tablets, projectors, and other supplies contributed to motivating children to return to school, especially those who suffer from psychological distress. These students received support from mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and child protection teams that conducted case management. Ruba agreed that these services have helped students with psychological distresses to advance in their studies.
Teacher Learning Circle
In addition to teachers training, Ruba participates once in a month in the Teacher Learning Circle (TLC), a new initiative launched by the programme. It aims at promoting professional development through peer learning among teachers. With facilitation of an education supervisor, teachers exchange experience, knowledge, and techniques in the classrooms, discuss educational priorities and challenges, and share best practices.
"I believe that these sessions are important to develop the teaching skills and create a cooperative environment among teachers. We can exchange good practices that we can replicate. We can develop our communication at all levels, even in the personal domain. It helps us teachers to enhance our self-confidence and capacity to deal with different situations. In addition to these, the interaction among teachers during the sessions helps strengthen the social relations and create a comfortable atmosphere.”
“Expanding the project is highly needed.”
Although the project has improved educational environments for teachers and students, there are still thousands of children who do not have access to schools in rural Idleb. Being passionate about making learning available every child, Ruba hopes this challenge will soon be addressed.
“Along with participating in this project, I continue to volunteer in schools nearby. I think expanding the project to other areas is needed so that more displaced children can access quality education.”
With the generous support of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), UNICEF supported non-formal education programmes aiming to increase access to equitable learning opportunities for more than 8,000 children aged six-twelve at 19 learning centres during 2021-2022 school year in the countryside of Idleb. The project provided 8,000 children with a package of non-formal education opportunities using self-learning program curriculum and psychosocial support, and 289 teachers with professional development opportunities.