Learning restarts in classrooms at a rehabilitated school
Bringing children back to a safe learning environment
Zamalka, Rural Damascus, Syria: In Syria, one in three schools are no longer used for educational purposes. They have been severely damaged, continue to shelter displaced families or are being used for other purposes. Low numbers of rehabilitated schools and overcrowded classrooms further hamper children’s access to learning.
“Teachers used to have more than 60 students in each classroom. It affected their performance and the entire learning process negatively.”
The Martyr Mohamed Ibrahim Alosh elementary school in Zamalka town in eastern Ghouta was badly damaged due to the conflict and had to be closed in 2012.
When people started returning to the area, the two other functional schools were overloaded with huge number of students, and had limited teaching capacity and infrastructure.
“Teachers used to have more than 60 students in each classroom. It affected their performance and the entire learning process negatively,” said Butheina, the principal of the Martyr Mohamed Ibrahim Alosh school.
In 2021, UNICEF supported the rehabilitation of the school and in 2022 it opened its doors again.
In addition to the construction work, UNICEF’s intervention included rehabilitating water and sanitation facilities, installing tools to facilitate access for children with disabilities as well as washrooms, ramps, and railings. A new classroom with its own playground and furniture was set up for pre-primary school children to foster early childhood education. A resource centre with equipment was set up for teachers.
After the rehabilitation, 11 new classrooms, in addition to the early childhood classroom, were opened and began accommodating 450 students transferred from the other two crowded elementary schools in Zamalka town.
“Rehabilitating this school has had a positive impact on students and teachers,” said Butheina, the school principal. “Now, each teacher has around 30 students, so they can provide adequate care and time to all of their students,” she explained.
“I feel lucky, my school is so beautiful,” said seven-year-old Nour. He is in grade 2 and enjoys the huge playground, the well painted and less crowded classrooms.
In 2022, UNICEF has supported the rehabilitation of 24 schools across Syria. An additional 32 schools are still under construction. All these interventions were possible because the contributions from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the KFW Development Bank, Governments of Finland and Japan, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation. Also, these activities are part of the UN Joint Programme to build Urban and Rural resilience and the conditions for recovery in Syria, through UNICEF, and they have been implemented with support from the European Union and the Government of Norway. UNICEF also provided furniture to these rehabilitated schools with support of Governments of Canada and Sweden.