Limitless potential

Education helps Louay overcome his fears

Rasha Alsabbagh
Boy writing on notebook
UNICEF/Syria/2022/Bashar Alkhuder
17 July 2022

Al-Ashara, rural Deir-ez-Zor, 15 May 2022 – “He feared going to school after having lived with the sounds of fighting for years,” says Louay’s mother. In 2017, Louay, now 12, escaped with his family the violence in their home city of Al-Ashara, rural Deir-ez-Zor, northeast Syria.

They took shelter in Al-Tabqa city in Ar-Raqqa, northeast Syria, for a year. In 2018, with respite in violence, they returned home to Deir-ez-Zor.

During the displacements and despite reaching school age, Louay had never been in a classroom. To help his father support the family of eight, he had to work in a small shop nearby.

Boy writing on notebook at home
UNICEF/Syria/2022/Bashar Alkhuder
Louay, 12, does his homework at home in Al-Ashara, rural Deir-ez-Zor, northeast Syria, on 15 May 2022.

His parents wanted to help Louay, and his siblings build a better future for themselves. Shortly after they returned to Al-Ashara, they enrolled the children in school. Louay, then 8, was accepted in Grade 2 although he could not read or write. He was unable to catch up with his peers and still attempting to cope with the fears of horrors he had witnessed due to the conflict. Louay was not motivated to learn, and his family was not able to afford the cost of private lessons to fill in any gaps. His education suffered but his mother, ever determined to empower her children, encouraged him and his siblings to study. She took the children to school daily and picked them up at the end of the school day.

In late 2021, a UNICEF -supported team and case manager were visiting schools in Al-Ashara to introduce education support and child protection services they offer at their community centre in the area. The met Louay, learned about his situation and explained how the remedial classes could help him catch up on missed learning.

Shortly after the visit, Louay went to the centre and sat for a placement test. As a result of it, he began to benefit from remedial classes suitable for Grade 6, his educational level at the time.

“I loved the centre. The teachers and staff were all friendly, especially Ms. Yasmine, the science teacher. She would answer all my questions and encouraged me to participate during class. I even began to put more effort into doing my homework,”


A case manager at the centre was also assigned to Louay to follow up on his progress. He received psychosocial support sessions to help him cope and deal with his feelings. “Louay broke many barriers. Communicating with his teachers while feeling at ease was one of them. Participating in the recreational activities at the centre is another,” says the case manager about Louay’s advancement after a few months of frequenting the centre.

“My son’s attitude towards school changed tremendously. He overcame many challenges,” says Louay’s mother. She attended parenting sessions at the same UNICEF -supported community centre to help her communicate and support Louay and his siblings effectively.

Louay’s teachers attested to his academic improvement as well. His math teacher mentioned that while at first, he was challenged by the subject, he gained more skills later, especially in solving math problems. Louay dreams of becoming a paediatrician in the future.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), in 2022 to date, UNICEF has reached 3,000 children in Deir-ez-Zor with education support. This includes remedial classes, distribution of stationary supplies, early childhood education, and the self-learning programme.