No dream too far; Sama’s journey to a better future

UNICEF supports Grade 12 students crossing conflict lines to sit for national exams

Masoud Hasen and Yasmine Saker
a girl sitting on a mattress studying
17 September 2020

Raqqa, Syria, 1 September 2020- Having been out of school for over four years due to conflict and displacement, Sama, 19, never gave up on her dream of becoming a judge one day, which is why she decided to continue her learning and sit for her national Grade 12 exams this year.

Despite her determination, Sama was met with a few challenges; lack of services, combined with COVID-19 restrictions and unaffordable remedial education in Raqqa are only a few of the obstacles facing students like Sama.

“I didn’t give up; I kept studying even under the worst conditions,” she recalls.

This was not the end of Sama’s challenges; she still had to take a long trip from rural Raqqa to the city of Sabkha in northeastern Syria to sit for her exams. So, in June, Sama set-out on an arduous journey that would last from dawn to dusk.

a girl hanging a towel on a laundry rope
Sama, 19, attends UNICEF-supported remedial education sessions at a temporary accommodation centre for Grade 12 students in Sabkha city, northeastern Syria.

“Whenever I got tired or scared on the way, I’d hear my late mother’s voice in my ear: ‘You can do it, Sama!’ and I would feel stronger,” she says.

Thanks to generous contributions from Norway, Italy, the Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF),  Canada and Japan, UNICEF supported over 670 students coming from hard-to-reach areas to sit for their Grade 12 exams in the governorate of Raqqa, including through remedial classes to prepare for the exams, bursaries to help cover transportation costs and the provision of stationery and learning materials.

UNICEF also prepared nine accommodation centres in the governorate through the rehabilitation of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, provision of safe drinking water, installation of windows and doors, maintenance of electricity and disinfection of the premises, ensuring their suitability amid COVID-19 challenges.