The story of the girl who wants to end war
Etidal is a 13 year old Syrian girl who arrived in Sanliurfa province in Turkey three years ago, escaping from the horrors of war in her hometown of Raqqa in Syria
“I was really relieved when we first arrived to Turkey, because I won’t have to wake up anymore in the middle of the night to the horrible sounds of bombs” Etidal explains.
Etidal lives with her family in a small house in Eyyubiye district in Sanliurfa province. Her family is composed of her father, mother, grandmother and three brothers.
“I have three brothers, the oldest was injured during an airstrike on our neighborhood in Raqqa. My middle brother is 15 years old. My youngest brother is 5 years old and he started going to kindergarten this year.”
Etidal is among the 20,000 out of school refugee children that the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) aims to help gain access to education opportunities. The ALP consists of two levels: The Primary School Equivalency and the Lower Secondary School Equivalency, with each covered over a period of 8 months. This programme avails opportunities for out of school refugee children to go back to formal education and help them acquire essential literacy skills to enhance their social integration. In addition, it also gives access to Syrian and other refugee adolescents to technical and vocational training opportunities. ALP is being implemented in 75 Public Education Centres (PECs) covering 12 provinces across Turkey.
The Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) is being implemented through a partnership between the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) and UNICEF, with the generous financial support of the European Union as part of a broader Non-Formal Education (NFE) Programme.
ALP Presents a New Opportunity for Etidal
At the beginning Etidal faced some challenges when she arrived to Turkey. “When we first arrived, my parents enrolled me into a public school. I was very excited to go back to school, I always dreamt of becoming a lawyer. Yet when I started going to school, I found myself with children 3 years younger than me and I couldn’t understand the teachers or make friends because I couldn’t speak Turkish.” After 3 months, she stopped going to school and was going to give up on her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Then a new opportunity presented itself to Etidal. “One day, a friend of my father was visiting us and he told us there was a programme that can help and prepare Syrian children to go back to school in the Eyyubiye Public Education Centre (PEC).”
Etidal elaborates happily; “So I went with my father to visit the centre and we saw the services they provide, and we learned about the programme. I was so happy when my father accepted to enroll me in the ALP course. I even encouraged my two cousins to join me and enroll in the same course. Now I am very motivated to finish the course and go back to school. It is also helping me to learn Turkish, so I feel more confident to communicate with our Turkish neighbors and make new friends.”
Etidal Plans to End War
“Sometimes I miss my school and neighborhood in Raqqa before all this fighting started. I also miss many of my school friends. My favorite game was role playing, I always played the role of a lawyer. All that changed after the war started, one day my father told me that the school closed. I stopped going to school in Syria for 2 years. It was really difficult, I was having nightmares and wasn’t able to sleep because of the continuous sounds of bombing and bullets shooting. At the end we had to leave the country. So, we came to Sanliurfa.”
Etidal oldest brother Hassan was badly injured during one of the airstrikes that hit their home in Raqqa and they had to leave Syria. “My oldest brother now can’t go to school anymore and he can’t work also. When I see what war did to me and my family I always get angry.”
“Now I am very happy to be able to continue my education here in Turkey. My biggest dream is to become a very famous lawyer in the future, so I can use law to stop all wars in this world.”
About the Non-Formal Education (NFE) Programme
The NFE Programme consists of three complementary education components designed for Syrian children who are out-of-school or who are in-school but need extra educational support. The programme three components are; the Basic Literacy and Numeracy (BLN) classes, Turkish Language Courses (TLC), and the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP).
The Non-Formal Education (NFE) Programme is implemented in close collaboration between the Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Turkish Red Crescent and UNICEF. Thanks to the European Union financial support, the NFE programme aims to reach 65,000 Syrian children & adolescents across Turkey.