A story of determination: How a mobile phone helped Ali study for final exams

“My father recorded the entire curriculum with his voice using my mobile phone. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to study!”

Masoud Hasen and Yasmine Saker
UNICEF/ Syria 2019/ Bashar Kheder

14 July 2019

Ali, now 19 years old, was born with a visual impairment and had no access to specialized schools in Rural Deir-ez-Zor, northeast of Syria. Yet, he did not let anything get in the way of his education. With the help of his teachers and classmates, Ali relied on hearing aid to understand and memorize his lessons.

This was not the end of Ali’s challenges. When he was 13, Ali was forced to drop out of school due to escalating violence and restrictions on education. Together with his family, they were eventually fled their home to a nearby village, making it harder to continue his learning.

“Most schools in the area had closed down due to violence,”

recalls Ali who never lost his determination.

Last year, with the support of his father, Ali made the decision to prepare for the national Grade 9 exams, which he never got the chance to sit for.  

“My father recorded the entire curriculum with his voice using my mobile phone. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to study!”

Ali

Ali’s friends also helped through a study group where they would take turns reading. The group of five then traveled together from Tayana village, where they live, to the city of Deir-ez-Zor, east of Syria, to sit for their national exams.

“We were worried about the trip because we knew no one in Deir-ez-Zor and couldn’t afford the cost of accommodation. But we were ready to sleep in the street if that meant we could sit for our exams!”

Ali

Ali together with his friends stayed at a mosque for two nights until they were able to find accommodation.

Thanks to a generous contribution by Education Cannot Wait and Norway, UNICEF supported 12,000 children like Ali coming from hard-to-reach areas, through the provision of cash assistance to help them pay for transportation and accommodation to sit for their national exams.

“There’s nothing more important than education. I have put up with so many challenges and will continue to face whatever comes my way, until I achieve my dream of becoming a university professor,” Ali says.