“The self-learning programme brought me back to life! Now I have my dreams back.”

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

Sandra Awad
a girl on a school desk
UNICEF/Syria/2019/Mahmoud

03 November 2019

Syria, Damascus, October 2019  -Seven years ago, an escalation in violence forced Kahadija, now 17, to flee with her family from their home in Al-Qadam neighborhood of Damascus to seek refuge in a safer neighborhood. “Life became harsh after we left our home. My father had to leave his shop and work as an office boy with income that barely covered our necessities,” says Khadija.

Struggling to adapt with her post-displacement life, Khadija didn’t find the courage to go to school in the new neighborhood. But that was a struggle that time only made worse. The longer she waited, the wider the age gap became between herself and potential classmates, and the greater her reluctance grew. In time, Khadija exceeded the age limit for joining formal education, and consequently remained unschooled for six years, until one day the UNICEF-supported outreach volunteers knocked her door and informed her about the self- learning programme. “I didn’t think twice. I was desperate for another chance at education and there it came!” she recalls.

Khadija enrolled in a self-learning center where her enthusiasm kept on advancing with the progress she made in her learning capabilities. “I used to hate math, but with the modern teaching methods used in this center, I started to adore it!” she says excitedly.

“I didn’t think twice. I was desperate for another chance at education and there it came!”

Kahadija, 17

Recently, she sat for her national sixth grade exam. Passing the exam was her first academic milestone after missing out on six years of education. “The self-learning programme brought me back to life! Now I have something to dream of, and that is continuing my studies and going to university!”  

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

Through the 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.