UNICEF’s informal learning programme helps children to catch up with their peers

Self-learning programme helps children to study at home or in community centres with the help of volunteers or caregivers.

UNICEF
girl writing on notebook in a classroom
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
27 January 2019

Almost eight years of fighting have taken a toll on children’s education in the governorate of Aleppo. Multiple displacements, fighting and lost livelihoods have forced children out of school, putting their future at risk.

UNICEF’s self-learning programme allows out-of-school children to catch up with their peers by studying at home or in community centres with the help of volunteers or caregivers. In Aleppo, regular schools serve as learning centres for the programme, over weekends, and after regular school hours.

Children benefitting from the programme learn English, Arabic, math and sciences including physics and chemistry. The programme allows children aged 6 to 15 to study with the help teaches and volunteers. Children enrolled in the programme also receive school bags, stationary, textbooks and mine risk education sessions to help them protect themselves against the risk of unexploded ordinance. The programme also offers children recreational and sports activities, to help them regain a sense of normality in their lives and reconnect with their childhood. In Qaramel village, 23 kilometers north of Aleppo, UNICEF’s self- learning programme helps 230 children from nine neighbouring villages. “Most of the children who benefit from the programme have lost at least three years of their education” says Rand, the learning centre coordinator. “We keep encouraging children to go back to school once they feel ready. Our goal is to reintegrate them in formal education,” she adds. Thanks to the generous contribution from Educate A Child, UNICEF has reached over 16,000 children through the self-learning programme, allowing them to reconnect with their peers and reach their full potential in life.

children playing in a school yard
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
Maryam, 9, plays during recess in front of a school serving as a centre for the UNICEF-supported self-learning programme in Qaramel village, northern rural Aleppo.
children in a classroom
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
13, attends a UNICEF-supported self-learning session in Qaramel village, northern rural Aleppo. Abdulmunem walks 3 kilomteres to reach the school serving as a learning centre. “My favorite subject is Arabic because the teacher is very kind and helps me out,” he says.

“My favorite subject is Arabic because the teacher is very kind and helps me out,”

Abdulmunem, 13,
children in a classroom
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
Brothers Omar, 10, and Ali, 7, attend a UNICEF-supported self-learning session in Qaramel village of northern rural Aleppo.
children in a classroom
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
Asaad, 14, attends a UNICEF-supported self-learning session in Qaramel village of northern rural Aleppo. Asaad is happy to have improved his math skills after joining the programme. “Now, I can multiply in seconds, it is easy!” he says with a grin. When he’s not at the centre, Asaad grazes small cattle of sheep to support his family. “While looking after the sheep, I count them and do math problems in my head to entertain myself,” adds Asaad who dreams of becoming a math teacher when he grows up.

“Now, I can multiply in seconds, it is easy!”

“While looking after the sheep, I count them and do math problems in my head to entertain myself,”

Assad, 14,
Two boys walking
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
Brothers Asaad, 14, and Hussein, 13, go back home after the UNICEF-supported self-learning session in Qaramel village, northern rural Aleppo.

“Today, we are learning about the digestive system,”

Sara, 11,
girl in classroom
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
“Today, we are learning about the digestive system,” says 11-year-old Sara while attending a UNICEF-supported self-learning session in Qaramel village of northern rural Aleppo.
children in a classroom
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
Ali, 7, attends a UNICEF-supported self-learning session in Qaramel village of northern rural Aleppo.
children in a classroom
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
Yousef, 14, attends a UNICEF-supported self-learning session in Qaramel village of northern rural Aleppo. “Because of violence and displacement, my education has been sporadic. I have so far been to seven schools and lost three years of learning,” says Yousef who walks for an hour every day to reach the school serving as a learning centre for the programme.

“Because of violence and displacement, my education has been sporadic. I have so far been to seven schools and lost three years of learning,”

Yousef, 14,
Two children walking
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
Siblings Yousef, 14, and Maryam, 12, go back home after the UNICEF-supported self-learning session in Qaramel village, northern rural Aleppo.