Never too late: Adla’s return to education

UNICEF supports youth making arduous journeys to reach Grade 12 exam centres

teacher watching student writing on whiteboard in classroom
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Muhammad Wasil
02 September 2020

Raqqa, Syria, 24 August 2020- Not having seen the inside of a classroom in over 10 years, Adla, 25, had dedicated her life to caring for her family, including her four children. Last year, she decided to follow her dream; to return to education, sit for the 2020 Grade 12 national exams and eventually become a nurse.

“My life has not been easy; I became a wife and a mother at a young age, I quit my education, I’ve fled twice due to violence,” recalls Adla.

“It was all these turning points that pushed me to want to change my reality and give my education a second chance,” she says.

Despite all her responsibilities, Adla pushed through and prepared for the exams with the help of her husband, Ali, a graduate of Arabic literature himself, who taught her all subjects.

“We were living with low income and a lack of basic services, including frequent power cuts,” says Adla, who felt that all her circumstances were uniting against her.

young student girl studying with a baby in her lap
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Muhammad Wasil

“But I had two motivations to continue; my husband’s love and support, and my desire to get a job and make a better life for my children,”

Adla, 25

“But I had two motivations to continue; my husband’s love and support, and my desire to get a job and make a better life for my children,” she adds.

This was not the end of Adla’s challenges; she still had to take a long trip from rural Raqqa to the city of Sabkha in northeastern Syria to sit for her exams. So, in June, Adla and her youngest, 7 months-old baby Saleh, said goodbye to the rest of the family and set out on their journey.

Thanks to generous contributions from Norway, Italy, the Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF),  Canada and Japan, UNICEF supported over 670 students coming from hard-to-reach areas to sit for their Grade 12 exams in the governorate of Raqqa, including through remedial classes to prepare for the exams, bursaries to help cover transportation costs and the provision of stationery and learning materials.

UNICEF also prepared nine accommodation centres in the governorate through the rehabilitation of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, provision of safe drinking water, installation of windows and doors, maintenance of electricity and disinfection of the premises, ensuring their suitability amid COVID-19 challenges.

“The remedial classes helped me prepare well for the exams while the teachers and other students were so kind to help care for my baby so I could study,” says Adla with a smile, having done well on the first three exams at the time of the interview.