Education Starts at Home

How home-based early childhood education is helping Syrian refugee children reach for the stars?

UNICEF
Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF / Uyanik
21 January 2019

Gaziantep, Turkey– It has been two and a half years since the Habiş family left their home in war-torn Aleppo and became part of more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey, home to the largest number of refugees in the world. 

Suheila, 35, was expecting her second child when the family made the treacherous trip to Turkey through the south-eastern province of Kilis.

Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF/ Uyanik

Now almost 8 months pregnant with her 3rd child, she stays home to take care of Vaseem, 5, and Yasemin, 2, while her husband, Mehmet, 35, works. “I was a lawyer in Syria but now I work in a laundromat,” says Mehmet with a dignified smile. He knows firsthand the power of education in providing hope for a better future for his children.

Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF/ Uyanik

Fatma, 25, originally trained as a civil engineer in Aleppo, is a proud social worker. She visits Vaseem every day at home for an hour and teaches him reading, writing, self-care and nutrition.

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) home-based program, implemented in partnership between UNICEF, GAP Administration and Development Foundation of Turkey (DFT) and with the financial support of European Union and Norway, targets Syrian refugee children in ten provinces of Southeast Turkey, areas with the highest numbers of refugees.


In 2017-18, over 7,800 Turkish and refugee children aged 3-5 have benefitted from the home-based early childhood education programmes.The aim is to prepare children for first grade in Turkish schools by helping them develop their language and motor skills, while supporting mothers in conducting school readiness activities for their children to help them prepare for grade school.

Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF / Uyanik

“These lessons really help Vaseem” says Suheila. “He learned the colors, letters and shapes and his imagination really improved. He likes drawing the sun the most.”

Mothers like Suheila also benefit from the programme as they can watch how the lessons are conducted and continue to teach their children at home. They also receive training on nutrition, gender, violence, discrimination and other subjects, and are given information on how to access vital services for their family. “First, we talk about these with the mother and the mother then shares this knowledge with her husband” explains Fatma.  

Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF / Uyanik

At age three, Vaseem broke his arm and went under a traumatic surgery, leaving him very distant and closed off. These lessons have helped him stay engaged and regain his confidence. When asked, he says he wants to become an astronaut so “he can have many stars around him.”

At age three, Vaseem broke his arm and went under a traumatic surgery, leaving him very distant and closed off. These lessons have helped him stay engaged and regain his confidence. When asked, he says he wants to become an astronaut so “he can have many stars around him.”

Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF/ Uyanik

Fatma prepares Vaseem for school through this home-based ECE programme. Here he learns essentials in Turkish like letters and numbers with the help of some home-made learning tools made of sponges.

Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF / Uyanik

Vassem and his parents waving goodbye to Fatma. Her three months of home visits have successfully prepared Vaseem, who started first grade along with all the other children in Turkey in September 2018.

Fatma may only visit the family for one hour a day, but the skills, tools and time she dedicates to the family are priceless. In the life of a refugee family, where each day is a struggle for survival, education uplifts and empowers. It helps Vaseem dream of going to the stars and puts a spark back in the eyes of his parents – igniting hope for the entire family.


 

Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF / Uyanik

IN PARTNERSHIP FOR CHILDREN
UNICEF in collaboration with GAP Administration and Development Foundation of Turkey, and with funding from the European Union and Norway, supports home-based early childhood education programmes for refugee and local children.

Eğitim Evde Başlar
UNICEF / Uyanik