“We sit on worn out blankets on the floor during classes"

Despite hardship and displacement, children in Idlib’s IDP camps continue their education

UNICEF Syria
Girls sitting on a worn-out blanket on dirt in a classroom
UNICEF/Syria 2018/Aref Watad

14 October 2018

For three years, 13-year-old Asmaa and her family have had to move many times to flee fighting and conflict until she settled in a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in northern rural Idlib. “I have been out of school for the last three years because we kept moving,” says Asmaa, “but now I’m back in class.”

Idlib is home to almost 1 million children, many of them internally displaced and have lost out on years of education. Recent fears of a flare-up in fighting has caused even more internal displacement in Idlib just as the school year was starting. Overall in Syria, more than 4 million children started formal education in September this year, but almost 2 million children remain out of school.

At the Junaina makeshift camp in northern rural Idlib, 350 children between the ages of 7 and 14 are able to go back to learning in six tents that have been set up as a school. With education supplies provided by UNICEF, the volunteer teacher turned the tents into the most basic of classrooms. Most of the children have to sit on the ground and whiteboards are propped up against tent poles. Yet Asmaa and her friends at the camp continue to come,

We sit on worn out blankets on the floor during classes.  Soon it will start raining and everything will get muddy. But this school was made for us, it is called ‘Flowers of the Future’, and we go to school to prepare for our future.

13-year-old Asmaa

In Idlib, restricted humanitarian access means that many children cannot receive the regular humanitarian assistance they need. But through the provision of education and other supplies to its partner on the ground, UNICEF is able to ensure that some basic services are provided to children like Asmaa in Idlib’s IDP camps.

Faysal, the school’s director is happy that children still come eagerly to the school even though it lacks many of the essentials; “they arrive in the morning tidy and clean and return home as if they were doing heavy labour on the land because they have to sit in the dust all day.” The school has ten volunteer teachers who do their best with the limited resources they have.

The teachers’ dedication seems to have also inspired Asmaa who hopes to be a teacher herself in the future.

Girls sitting on a worn-out blanket on dirt in a classroom
UNICEF/Syria 2018/Aref Watad

I want to teach children like myself when I grow up. I want to be successful.

I like that I am going to school, but I wish my school was as beautiful as other schools around the world and that it has all that we need to learn.

13-year-old Asmaa