Monday, 25 July 2016

At school in Syria

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says that the education of a child should be directed to ‘the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups…’

Education for Freedom is a project in support of these aims for children in Syria.

School visits

Could your students benefit from learning about children in Syria? We would like to visit your school and tell of life in Syrian schools, to talk about children’s experiences in Syria, and to answer your students’ questions.

We will tell of schools where children continue to learn despite the war, despite air attacks, and despite threats from extremists.

Our speakers are Syrians with direct knowledge of the current crisis. We can show what a day is like in the schools that we are in contact with, and give a vivid sense of how education continues in wartime.

All talks, images, and videos, will be carefully tailored to suit the student age group.


Benefits to UK students

In 2015 and 2016, Syria and particularly the refugee crisis became a very visible issue in UK media. However even amongst adults many still find the conflict difficult to comprehend. Through school visits by speakers with direct knowledge of Syria, we hope to make the crisis easier to understand for UK students.

We hope to bring about a more personal understanding for students of how political events abroad and at home can impact children very like themselves.

These school visits can have particular educational value in areas of citizenship and geography, and in giving contemporary relevance to history topics like the First World War or the Blitz. The issues raised will be very relevant for an understanding of children’s rights and of the value of education.

The cost of war

In 2015, Save the Children reported that almost three million Syrian children were out of school:

Before the war, almost all of Syria’s children were enrolled in primary school and literacy rates were at 95% for 15–24 year olds. Four years into the conflict, almost three million children are no longer in school and Syria is now estimated to have one of the lowest enrolment rates in the world. Enrolment in Aleppo is as low as 6%, while half of refugee children are not receiving any education.

There are several Syrian charities and NGOs working as best they can for these children who are hungry for knowledge and desperately in need of contact with the ‘normal’ world beyond the war.

These people are working under difficult circumstances and with limited resources. We want to promote links between educators in Syria and UK teachers, schools, and educational professionals.

Did you know?

  • Before the Syrian revolution, all schoolchildren had to learn the rules of Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad. All schoolbooks had a picture of the dictator on the first page.
  • The Syrian revolution began in 2011 when schoolchildren in the town of Daraa wrote the Arab Spring slogan on  a wall, ‘The people want the fall of the regime,’ calling for an end to the dictatorship. They were arrested and tortured. People protested for them to be set free.
  • The dictatorship in Syria uses helicopters and aeroplanes to bomb whole neighbourhoods and towns. Schools have had to move into basements to escape bombing. In these schools, children can’t play outside because it’s too dangerous.
  • Now Russia’s air force is helping the Syrian dictator, and Russian planes have also bombed schools.
  • Some parts of Syria have been taken over by ISIS, a terrorist group that crossed the border from Iraq. ISIS won’t let children learn science, or poetry, or songs. Some people teach children in secret so that ISIS won’t stop them.

We want to support schools where children don’t have to chant a dictator’s rules, where they are free to learn science, free to make art, and free to sing.

Friendship twinning

Inspired by a successful project by a school in the Netherlands and a school in Syria, we are developing a friendship programme to twin schools in the UK with schools in Syria. This will be limited to a maximum of five UK schools initially.

We want to make direct contacts between students in the UK and students in Syria, and to enable UK educators to support their fellow educators in Syria.

Odulphus Lyceum, a school in Tilburg, the Netherlands, has twinned with Mustafa Karaman school in Aleppo, run by Syrian NGO Kesh Malek. A teacher from Aleppo travelled to Tilburg to speak at a Pupils’ Conference on Syria. Students have communicated via Skype, and the Dutch school has done fundraising with sponsored runs and cookie sales, and sent toys to their Syrian twin school as well as funds.

Most importantly the project has allowed children in Syria to connect with the world beyond the war.

For the Dutch school, the project supports their educational ambitions in internationalisation and civic education, and has informed students’ learning in philosophy, history, and social sciences.

Email us to find out more:

Who we support

Would you like to raise funds for schools in Syria? We recommend the following NGOs:

Human Care Syria supports four schools in Syria and one for refugees in Turkey, with 2,640 students currently enrolled. Their education fund provides jobs to over 100 qualified teachers. They aim to open five more schools for up to 1,750 children.

UK Registered Charity No. 1145092.

Read more:

Syria Relief sponsors 55 schools and children’s centres inside Syria, educating over 16,000 children, including 2,000 children with special needs. They currently have 70 more schools on their waiting list.

UK Registered Charity No. 1143797.

Read more:

Kesh Malek supervises and monitors nine schools in the liberated areas of Aleppo City, providing 3,330 pupils with education. Kesh Malek’s Education Office Standards follow the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Read more:

Who we are

The Education For Freedom project is organised by Syria Solidarity UK, a volunteer activist group. We support all efforts towards a political settlement for a democratic, pluralist and united Syria, where all Syrians can freely determine their future.