Relief International's Education Center in the Za'atari refugee camp, Jordan
The education of many Syrian children has been severely disrupted since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. Displacement and the destruction of many schools in Syria means children have missed valuable months or even years of schooling, up to two years in areas of intense fighting. Regular education offers a daily routine and is fundamental in giving a much needed feeling of normalcy in the lives of children who have been through so much. It also provides a safe place for children to spend their time, helping to protect them from exploitation.
The refugees are subject to stress and trauma as a result of their displacement and experiences in Syria. Children can be particularly vulnerable and many have been through traumatizing experiences, witnessing the destruction of their homes, communities and even families. Pscho-social support is extremely important to help them deal with what they have been through and educational environments can help provide this and identify those who need further support.
The current number of children benefiting from formal education in Zaatari refugee camp is 10,070. To help provide adequate learning opportunities for Syrian refugee children, Relief International has recently opened a remedial education center in the camp which offers further study support to these students. Relief International is providing classes in Arabic, Math, Science and English for grades 1-11, in order to provide educational support that will help them succeed in the formal classroom setting. The remedial classes enable the children to develop their skills and stimulate their participation in their daily environment.
Classes for boys are provided in the morning as their formal education takes place in the afternoon and girls come to the center in the afternoon after their classes at the main school. There are four periods of 45 minutes including one for supervised recreational activities where students can enjoy competitive and team building activities, develop their imagination and learn to interact amicably with other students in an open space and a safe and environment. Most importantly, these activities promote a sense of normalcy by giving them the space, time and right to play as children.
In addition to teachers each class also has a case manager who ensures the child attends the remedial education classes regularly, tracks the child’s educational progress and provides individual follow up. Their role is also to provide additional guidance, monitor children’s behavior and help identify and work with children who need further psycho-social support.
Community mobilizers create a link between refugee families and the center, ensuring awareness about the services provided and information of how to access it, as well as the positive opportunities that extra educational support can bring. To increase the safety of the children, community mobilizers also accompany students between the Relief International center and meeting points in the camp and the main school.
All teachers, case managers and community mobilizers are Syrians from the refugee camp. This creates understanding and trust between staff and children as they are familiar and have been through the similar experiences, whilst also providing employment to those living the camp. Other staff are Jordanian from the local town, which also provides employment for those in the host community.