Going back to learning helps Ali envisage a bright future
UNICEF helps children with disabilities overcome barriers to education.
Ar Rastan, rural Homs, Syria - “Going to school has meant a lot to me,” said 18-year-old Ali. Born with severe visual impairments, he struggled with learning difficulties and suffered from intimidation at school from an early age. During the long years of conflict, Ali and his family were forced to flee from their hometown in 2015. The displacement meant rolling into a new school and facing new challenges. As some of his classmates bullied him and as his difficulties to learn persisted, he kept dropping in and out of school.
In 2020, with the respite of fighting, Ali’s family was able to return to home and Ali was registered in school to resume his education. After a while, he dropped out again and stayed at home to help his mother take care of their small farm.
A group of UNICEF- supported volunteers met him and his mother in the town and Ali was invited to join the UNICEF- supported local education centre, the Association for the Care of the Blind, in Ar Rastan.
The organization, a UNICEF partner, helps children with vision impairments to continue their education. It is equipped with trained teachers and materials to help students resume their learning. It provides children with literacy and remedial classes as well as early childhood education activities. It also offers students access to a room with dedicated resources to support them while they study for their exams. Their parents are supported by awareness sessions on the optimal ways of supporting their children.
Ali was enrolled in the grade nine at the centre, he took part of the classes and obtained his grade nine national certificate in 2021.
At the centre, Ali learned the basics of Braille, a language used by people with visual impairments. It consists of combinations of raised dots. The letters and numbers are represented by a combination so that books and written materials can be read through touch.
“I love the way they teach us at the centre, the use of Braille is just perfect. Also, it is amazing to have materials that are designed especially for my situation,” Ali explained.
In 2023, Ali continued his successful journey. He sat for the grade 12 exams and passed them.
“I wasn’t expecting to pass! I am so happy that I did. I can now continue learning and study law,” Ali said. “Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the help I received here,” he added.
“My teachers are not only kind, but they are also understanding. They know how to help me to learn,” he underscored.
“I am getting closer to my dream. I will be a lawyer and defend vulnerable people,” Ali said happily.
Between June 2022 and June 2023, UNICEF has reached more than 408 children with visual impairments with remedial classes, early childhood education as well as literacy and numeracy support classes in the Homs governorate. The activities were made possible with contributions from Education Cannot Wait, and the Global Partnership for Education.