“Children don’t need education even in emergencies, they need education especially in emergencies,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake (United Nations Foundation, 2016).
Out of the 29,500 school aged children in Zaatari, approximately 20,700 children are enrolled in school.
There are nine schools in Zaatari operating on a double shift basis – the girls study in the morning and the boys attend school in the afternoon. This unfortunately means there are approximately 8,800 school aged children who are not enrolled in school (UNHCR, 2016, Aljazeera News, 2015).
The barriers for children in going to school include:
- working to support their family
- looking after their younger brothers and sisters
- suffering abuse to, from and at school, and
- the distance they have to travel to get to school (Unicef, 2014)
(A child working in the Zaatari Refugee Camp, Aljazeera News, 2016)
Teachers Without Borders (2016) is an organisation whose mission and vision is to “…connect teachers to information and each other in order to close the education divide.” They aim to bridge the educational divide along with removing barriers to education and each other (2016).
The Child Friendly Space is one of nine initiatives for Teachers Without Borders (2016). In the Zaatari Refugee Camp there is an opportunity to create Child Friendly Spaces for children who aren’t able to attend a one of the 9 schools in the camp
Child Friendly Spaces allow all young people to continue to gain an education. Some of the 29,500 school aged children in the Zaatari Refugee Camp have been living in the camp for five years. Children in Syria, prior to fleeing their country attended school, just like most other young people in the world.
The education system in Syria was/is:
- Primary School – 1st to 6th grade
- Lower Secondary School – 7th to 9th grade
- Upper Secondary Education – 10th to 12th grade
- Tertiary Education – undergraduate to postgraduate (Open University, 2010)
Unfortunately Education is not a top priority for families struggling to survive in a hostile environment. Parents would love to send their children to school but are not able to due the circumstances they find themselves in.
The children in Zaatari are just like children across the world, they have dreams and hopes of what they want to be when they grow up.
Child-Friendly Spaces are for children like Ibrahim 12 year old from Damascus, and those above, who through no fault of his own can’t go to schools now as he is now the bread winner for his family.
It is for young people like Muna and Sumaya in the video below that live without their parents and have to work to survive. They long to go back to school and continue their education.
Aljazeera News, 2016. Photograph of a child working in the Zaatari Refugee Camp. Retrieved from: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2016/09/syrian-refugees-displaced-war-160920073121763.html
Kernan, K and Halaseh, F, 2016. Photographs from Spotlight in the Dark. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/faris.halasa/media_set?set=a.10153867401726302.1073741844.717651301&type=3
The Jordan Times, 2015. Three new schools open at Zaatari camp. Retrieved from http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/three-new-schools-open-zaatari-camp
The Open University, 2010. Education in Syria. Retrieved from: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/society/international-development/international-studies/education-syria
Teachers Without Borders, 2016. Mission and Vision. Retrieved from: http://teacherswithoutborders.org/
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 2014. Right to Education Global Database. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002295/229562E.pdf
Zaatari Facebook page, 2016. Photo – Dreams of a future. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153867416451302&set=a.10153867401726302.1073741844.717651301&type=3&theater