A hope for the future
Taking knowledge home to benefit Afghanistan
Obrenovac, Serbia ― Fifteen-year-old Hazrat Mohamad is one of the many boys sitting in front of a computer in the ICT corner in the Reception Centre for Refugees and Migrants in Obrenovac, Serbia.
Facebook pages are visible on many of the screens, as many of the boys use social media to communicate with their family and friends back home.
Hazrat can’t use social media to be in touch with his brothers and sisters in Afghanistan because they do not have a computer. Or smart phones. In fact, Hazrat has never used a computer before coming to Serbia.
I never went to school and I never used a computer before coming to Serbia. It was too risky.
His computer screen is showing a flag of Afghanistan that he made in a drawing program, all with the help of an instructor who monitors and corrects his work.
Hazrat is learning the basics of computer design, something he had no chance of doing back home.
He admits, rather sadly, that he never went to school. It was risky, he says.
Now he lines up circles, rectangles and triangles using his mouse, and then fills them with the appropriate colours.
The instructor attentively stands behind Hazrat, giving him new tasks, which he successfully completes.
Workshops for developing digital competencies are held 3 times a week and Hazrat never misses one.
The programme is implemented within the ICT corner, which allows the refugees and migrants accommodated in the centre to communicate with their loved ones via social media, as well as to have free access to the Internet.
For children like Hazrat, the facilitators adapt the programme to fit their knowledge and skill levels.
From a beginner, Hazrat has made rapid progress, and he can now execute more complicated tasks.
Hazrat tries to go to as many classes as possible.
A large number of refugee and migrant children who came from crisis-affected areas travelled alone, unaccompanied by their parents or guardians.
Many of them, like Hazrat, never went to school and this is the first time they have access to learning opportunities. The facilitators say that the children and young people are disciplined and that they want to learn.
In addition to the development of digital skills, the workshops and classes organised in the centres provide the refugee and migrant children with the opportunity to learn Serbian and English, the basics of mathematics and science, as well as entrepreneurship.
Hazrat tries to go to as many classes as possible. He says he is carefully planning for his future and that he knows that this type of education will help him find work and become more independent.
Still, he wants to go back home. When asked about how he sees himself in ten years, he answers: “As a teacher. As somebody with knowledge and who has returned to Afghanistan to teach new generations about computer skills.
UNICEF, with the financial support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Department (ECHO), supports the non-formal education of children and adolescents in seven centres where refugees and migrants are accommodated, with the aim of developing key skills that will facilitate the inclusion of children into the education system in Serbia, or in countries of their destination or origin.