Syrian children are now dealing with a decade’s worth of destruction and lack of services. As they try to rebuild their lives and enroll in education, they face a severely crumbling education system. The ripple effect left 2.5 million Syrian children without proper access to education. It began with the destruction of the first school in the Northwest just as the Syrian war was erupting and continued onto countless others, depriving children of their right to learn for years to come.
Despite the humanitarian community’s joint efforts to decrease the overwhelming number of children who dropped out, many are simply afraid to go back to school. The traumatic experiences they lived through while seeking education left them psychologically traumatised and hesitant to enroll in schools and other education projects. Adel*, 7, is one of the 4.8 million children born into conflict, which at some point had to choose life over education. He witnessed the entire Syrian conflict unfold in front of his eyes, causing him immense pain and suffering.
“The sound of planes terrifies me. Whenever I see one, I immediately seek shelter, afraid it will hurt me,”
Even back in his village, where he was living until two years ago, he remembers the advice of his teachers asking them to “hide under their desks when we hear the planes in case something bad happens”. Nothing changed since then, and a third of the schools in Syria got destroyed until now.
Adel, had to be out of school for a year and a half as his family was trying to find a new home for themselves. First they decided to settle almost 6km away from their village “during one of the nights, my mother held my brothers and me tightly and got on a bike. We then left. We were crying and feeling cold,” he mentions. Then, Adel and his family were able to secure a house thanks to the support they got from their relatives. Only when they saw themselves settled down, did Adel’s parents realise their children had to go back to school, Adel was still holding on to his happy memories back at ‘home” and it held him back from building a new sense of normalcy in the unrecognizable place where he now had to live.
Overcoming the Fear of Going Back to School
Adel’s parents were hopeless when they saw the condition in which their son was. Despite all their wishes for him to get better, they soon realised they had to get help as Adel’s mental well-being was deteriorating. Luckily, World Vision's implementing partner near Adel’s home was conducting field visits to raise awareness about the importance of supporting children during their transition back to school. His parents were delighted by the visit, and they saw hope for Adel to rejoin other children in school.
“When they conducted the survey and gathered information about children who are out of school, I felt that life is okay again and there are people working towards providing us with a stable and dignified life,” happily shares the mother.
Feeling encouraged by his family’s support, he was able to begin his first semester in the second grade. Adel was welcomed by Taghreed*, one of the teachers in Adel's school, who immediately noticed how uncomfortable he was in this new environment. She made sure Adel was surrounded by the children at school, always. She just wanted him to feel safe again. “Before catching up on any educational material, he needed to engage with his friends”, the teacher says. She believed these small steps would create a system he can lean on in the future, and make his experience more enjoyable. She was right. Slowly, Adel began to feel comfortable and grew more eager to go to school. There was finally hope for Adel.
Before Adel could know it, he was able to catch up with his education and graduate from the second grade.
“Teacher Taghreed helped me, she encouraged me and supported me with extra-curricular school subjects to keep up. I am delighted right now!” he proudly shares.
This is Adel’s story, where he was able to overcome his fear of going to school after receiving psychological support and encouragement. Adel is considered among the lucky ones, being able to enroll back in school after dropping out, but there are still children who are in desperate need of support and assistance to take their first step as well.
The education programme Adel is part of, aims to reduce the staggering numbers of children out of school in Syria by enrolling them in schools or education tents. More than 3,000 children benefit from the education programme thanks to the support from our colleagues in Germany, Korea and Taiwan.
These are the children who still need your support.
All children must have access to education.
* Names are changed to protect identity