Growing up too early: Hamada’s story
Hamada works to help his family while he continues his learning, with support from UNICEF
Aleppo city, Syria, 22 May 2022 – “There is no time to play or see my friends, because I finish work at midnight,” said Hamada, 13, from Aleppo, northwest Syria. On a weekday, he finishes his classes at school and then he goes to work at a handbag workshop in the city before going back home.
Hamada is the eldest boy in his family. Two years ago, he started working to support his family. Being forced to flee and move numerous times has put a strain on his family’s finances and resources. Although his father works hard all day, he is barely able to put food on the table and support the family of eight.
Hamada wanted to help. At the age of 11, he began working at an electronics store. The job required full time presence. Hamada refused to miss out on school and quit. He soon found work at a workshop nearby his house. “The owner is friendly and supports my education. He lets me study at the workshop,” he said.
In March 2022, he started frequenting a UNICEF -supported centre in Hanano neighbourhood of Aleppo city. He attends remedial classes at the centre three times a week – after school and before he goes to work. The remedial classes, focusing on science, math, Arabic and English, have helped Hamada to gain a deeper understanding of the information and lessons that he finds challenging to learn in school.
“The teachers are able to simplify any complicated subject. It helps me understand the difficult lessons,” said Hamada. He wants to become a civil engineer in the future. “I know I have to study really hard to become one,” he added.
In 2022, UNICEF aims to reach approximately 20,000 children with remedial classes through 80 community centres and learning points in Aleppo.
“Remedial classes offer out of school children and children at the risk of dropping out a safe space to receive quality education tailored to their needs,” said Yasser Hemidy, Education Officer with UNICEF. “Going to the community centres also means more flexibility for the children. They can attend lessons after school, in evening shifts, or on weekends. It helps them to fill their learning gaps and get a better understanding of unclear subjects. It also allows them to spend more time with the teachers,” he added.
With the contribution from the Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF has reached more than 10,000 children, including out of school children or children at risk of dropping out, with education support. The support includes early childhood education, self-learning and remedial classes provided to children, including those with disabilities, as well as training for teachers on the delivery of accelerated learning packages and provision of early childhood education and inclusive education.