Learning can occur in any environment. In the Zaatari Refugee Camp, learning for many children occurs incidentally in their home or out on the street.
There is an opportunity to bring the school to where the children live.
There are several barriers that have been identified in children not being able to attend one of the 9 schools in Zaatari. Some of the barriers that have been stated in the Joint Education Needs Assessment Report , 2014 include that the schools are too far away from where the child lives, making it unsafe to walk to school. Some children live more than 750m from a school (Unicef, 2014).
Mobile schools allow children to access education and learning in situations where they live in Child-Friendly spaces.
The benefits of a mobile classroom for the children include, but are not limited to:
- being given an opportunity to learn and continue their education
- being provided an opportunity to continue to grow
- having an opportunity for social interaction with their peers
- making connections with a teacher
- learning that is real to them
- being able express themselves through art and drama
- being able to access a teacher who can assist with their psychosocial well- being
- being able to learn how to use mobile devices to continue their education
- connecting to educators in the eSpace
The benefits for teachers include but are not limited to:
- making connections with the parents and caregivers in the community
- planting the seeds of inspiration and hope for a brighter future through education
- creating opportunities in children to create a love of learning
- creating a bridge to the schools in Zaatari and encouraging children to attend
- assisting young people in the community in real-life learning
- providing psychosocial support for children
- linking children with other support networks eg mental health services
- assisting children to learn how to trust people again after years of turmoil and conflict
New bicycle Rickshaws in Zaatari could provide opportunities for the school to come to the children. The Rickshaw could be loaded up educational material and travel to the children.
To be effective, it will be important to establish a timetable for when the mobile classroom will be visiting a cluster of homes.
The local community can be involved by identifying a suitable open space for the mobile classroom to set up. If it is outdoors then the families can also assist in identifying an alternate venue when the weather is not conducive to being outdoors, eg a family home.
Pictures of what a mobile school could look like:
Portable Community Education spaces
Ikea’s flat-pack shelters could provide the opportunity to create Portable Community Education spaces within a cluster of homes. These education spaces will allow children and teachers to come together to learn in Child-Friendly spaces.
Ikea are producing the flat-pack shelters for the UNHCR which are initially being used for housing in the refugee camps including Zaatari.
The flat-packs takes approximately four hours to assemble and are equipped with a solar panel on the roof. The solar panel charges an LED light during the day which produces up to 4 hours of electricity at night time. Alternatively, the power generated can be used to charge a mobile device.
The benefit of these shelters are that they are easy to assemble and can be set up as a classroom at relatively low cost.
The Portable Community Education Spaces can then house the digital classroom in a box which can be set up where there is no electricity.
Teachers can learn more about the benefits of a Digital Classroom in a box by viewing the video:
Portable ways to bring education to the children if they can’t access a school.
Unicef provides an Early Childhood Development Kit which facilitates a Child-Friendly Space for children. Targeted at children under 6 years – it contains materials to help educators and parents create a safe learning environment. Some of the early childhood resources included in kit are: puzzles, games; books, puppets, art and craft and shapes to encourage counting .
The kits also have a comprehensive activity guide to support parents and teachers to create safe learning spaces for young children.
Included in the Early Childhood kit for teachers and educators is an Education Guide for children with a Disability. The Guide contains practical ideas for teachers and parents on how to include children with disabilities in the activities.
Unicef provides a school in a box
A possibility for the Portable Community Education Centres in Zaatari is to access a Unicef School in a Box which would have all the educational material required to set up a classroom for up to 40 students.
The kit contains basic school supplies such as pens, pencils, exercise books, scissors along with teaching material include a wind-up solar radio. The aluminium box can also be coated with blackboard paint (included) which transforms the outside of the box into a blackboard for the teacher.
Each School in the Box kit contains a comprehensive Education Kit Handbook. The handbook is a culturally neutral resource with modules for teachers including:
- psychosocial activities focussing on art, craft and play
- a basic primary school curriculum
- literacy and numeracy activities, and
- educational projects.
Included in the School in a Box is an Education Guide for Children with a Disability in Basic Primary Education. The Guide contains practical ideas for teachers and parents on how to include children with disabilities in all of the activities.
Etyemezian, H, 2016. Photograph of Rickshaw Bicycles in the Zaatari Refugee Camp. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/HovigE
Unicef, 2014. Access to Education for Syrian Refugee Children in Zaatari Camp, Jordan. Joint Education Needs Assessment Report Education Sector Working Group, September 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.unicef.org/jordan/Joint_Education_Needs_Assessment_2014_E-copy2.pdf
Unicef, 2015. Education and Recreation. Retrieved from: http://www.unicef.org/supply/index_cpe_education.html
Unicef, 2013. Unicef Education Kit Handbook: School in a Box Kit Guidance. Retrieved from: http://www.unicef.org/supply/files/Education_Kits_User_Manuals_Module_4.pdf
VNG International, 2015. Image of Bicyles in Zaatari. Retrieved from: http://www.vng-international.nl/blog/bicycles-in-zaatari/