– August 7 2018
Education is a child’s right
The Syrian civil war stole everything from Yasser – his home, his friends and his physical health. We are working to ensure it does not deprive him of his future as well.
When Yasser was just nine years old he was badly injured in a bombing. His family fled to neighbouring Jordan in search of safety, but escaping the war did not bring an end to Yasser’s troubles. Life as a refugee was hard and the family struggled to find work or a home of their own.
When we met Yasser for the first time in 2017 he had not been to school in three years and had given up hope of ever being able to return.
Sadly, Yasser’s story is not unique. Through our work supporting children and their families around the world we have seen first-hand the difficulties refugee families face when trying to get a decent education for their children.
For many families living in squalid conditions in refugee camps and temporary shelters simply finding enough food, clean water and a safe place for their children to sleep at night is a daily struggle, let alone regular education. For others, their children’s status as asylum seekers or temporary residents mean they are not entitled to access educational services.
This is an unacceptable situation that we are fighting to change.
Our programme in Jordan is helping hundreds of children who have dropped out or never been enrolled in school catch up with their missed lessons so they can get a formal education. Qualified teachers help children improve their English, Arabic and maths and all the classes are based on the Jordanian curriculum so the children can pass exams required by the Ministry before they can attend school.
For Yasser, the lessons have changed everything. Although he found studying difficult after such a long time away from the classroom, Yasser is a brave and determined child, eager to learn. In just nine months he had caught up on all his missed schooling. Now Yasser is looking forward to joining the eighth grade with other children his own age.
“I love school. My favourite subject is Arabic, I like reading and writing it,” he told us. “I know that with education I can have a good future. I want to become an architect when I grow up”.
Yet for children like Yasser, returning to education requires far more than teaching support. Many child refugees have been exposed to terrible violence, conflict and destruction. They have lost everything familiar and comforting, and in many cases suffered bereavement and separation from the people they love. Returning to school after such an experience can be an ordeal without the proper emotional support.
When Yasser first joined the SOS programme the psychological impact of his wartime experiences and forced displacement were evident. He was desperately shy, socially isolated and avoided speaking. His self-confidence had been sorely affected by his injuries which had left him with a permanent limp. With the proper counselling and support Yasser has begun to enjoy life again and see a positive future for himself. He has made friends and interacts easily and no longer sees his disability as an obstacle to living a normal life and enjoying his childhood.
His SOS psychologist Ana is overjoyed by his transformation.
“I was looking from my window and I saw Yasser playing football and laughing with children from the local neighbourhood,” she said. “I was very happy to see how much more confident and relaxed he is becoming.”
Yasser now has the chance to fulfil his ambitions and lead a life of his choosing. Yet for millions of other children like him around the world who are deprived of an education the devastating effects of war and disaster will have life-long consequences, consigning them to a life of poverty and lost opportunities.
Every child has the right to a quality education. Our work will not be complete until each and every one receives it.
*The name of the child has been changed to protect his privacy.