“From now on I will not let anything get between me and education.”

UNICEF’s self-learning programme brings hope to out-of-school children in Syria

Sandra Awad
A girl
03 November 2019

Syria, Damascus, October 2019 - “I was very sad, for many years, for having to stop going to school.” says Lorine, 16 years, when describing the four years she spent out of school in Idlib because of the constant violence, adding, “But a persistent feeling inside kept telling me that I would be back to school one day.”

When fighting reached a critical point in Idlib three years ago, Lorine’s family was forced to flee to Damascus with nothing but the clothes on their backs. To shore up his family and pay for the costly accommodation, Lorine’s father who used to be a well-established merchant back in Idlib, started to sell cotton candies on the streets in the new neighbourhood.

“We were becoming poorer day after day,” says Lorine, “every night as I watched my father preparing his candies for the following morning, school seemed more and more distant to me.”

But one day, the family was visited by a group of UNICEF-supported volunteers which gave Loring hope again. “As they talked to my mother about an alternative self-learning programme for out-of-school children, my heart was pounding with happiness,” says Lorine, “luckily, they managed to convince her to enrol me.”

Soon after that visit, Lorine started frequenting a self-learning centre every weekend. “The classes were informative and enjoyable, the teachers were so skilled, and I was so eager to learn,” she says. The new learning opportunity was also a social and emotional outlet that helped Lorine cope with her new life, “I met great people of my age who had similar experiences. We became best friends and will remain so forever!”

"The classes were informative and enjoyable, the teachers were so skilled, and I was so eager to learn"

Lorine, 16

Lorine’s dreams seemed closer than ever when she recently sat for, and passed, the national sixth grade exam. Her first academic milestone after getting back to learning. “It’s the greatest achievement in my life and I’m so proud. Every out-of-school adolescent should get back to learning and taste this great feeling of success,” she says with enthusiasm.

“From now on I will not let anything get between me and education. My entire future depends on it, as I´m now determined to become a physician!”

UNICEF is supporting thousands of children and young people in Syria who were forced to drop out of school because of the conflict. The self-learning programme helps students get back to learning, which enables them to participate in national examinations and eventually reintegrate into formal education. Lorine and Khadija are two examples of many.

Through the UNICEF’s Communication for Development (C4D) programme, and with generous contributions from Canada, Japan, Educate a Child and Education Cannot Wait, UNICEF and partners are aiming to reach out to millions of out-of-school children in Syria to help them get back to learning through door to door visits, community dialogue, local media messages and youth engagement activities.

Funded by Education Cannot Wait, Educate A Child, Norway, Germany, Japan, Canada, and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), UNICEF is supporting over 42,000 out-of-school children and young people in Syria through the self-learning programme.