In a partnership with UNICEF, we at the institute are donating R 50.00 from each enrolment to the children in the Syria crisis. This money will help to provide a safe education to the children in war-torn Syria.

Last year UNICEF assisted the education of 2,239,884 Syrian children affected by war in the region.

Currently, one out of three schools in Syria have been destroyed or rendered unusable due to the crisis. This, added with the lack of essential learning materials in the remaining schools, creates a significant barrier to the education of children in the region.

UNICEF’s aim this year is to assist in providing a formal and safe education for 1.2 million children in Syria. This includes the provision of facilities, school furniture, qualified teachers, rehabilitation, safe learning environments, and learning materials.

We are very privileged to be working with UNICEF towards this goal.

On 12 May 2017 in Aleppo in the Syrian Arab Republic, Abdullah [NAME CHANGED] (above, left), 15, studies in a UNICEF-supported accommodation centre for children taking the national Grade 9 and Grade 12 exams. Abdullah felt that he lost everything when his school in southern rural Aleppo closed down due to fighting. He started to go to work in a farm owned by a family to support his parents financially. “Our lives changed when a school reopened at the beginning of this school year, but we faced another difficulty; there were no teachers left to help us study. They all left,” explained Abdullah. Thanks to a retired mathematics teacher who gathered and trained undergraduate university students to help children prepare for exams, Abdullah and his friends were able to revise lessons and continue their learning. They had to leave their home and set on a dangerous journey in May to sit for the Grade 9 exams.

As school children in many parts of the world complete their school year and prepare for holidays and camps, children in Syria have been crossing active conflict lines desperate to sit their final school exams. In May and June 2017, almost half a million children took their national exams across Syria. Some 10,689 children came from hard-to-reach and besieged areas. This number was only a third of the 36,017 children who actually registered to take the exams. Many could not get to the exam centres as it was too dangerous or they were not allowed access across checkpoints. These determined children risked their lives, crossing numerous checkpoints where they were questioned by armed men. Many left their families behind and had to walk alone for hours to reach the exam centres. Some of these children have been out of school for a year or more due to displacement and violence, and as a result were forced to study at home by themselves or with the help of teachers or their parents at their homes.

UNICEF supported these children through providing bursaries to help cover transportation fees as well as daily living expenses at accommodation shelters close to the exam centres. To help children prepare for exams, UNICEF organized remedial classes and revision sessions and distributed stationary and study materials. UNICEF also provided children with psychosocial support to help them cope with their trauma as a result of conflict and displacement. Students also received personal hygiene kits to stay clean and fresh during their stay in the accommodation centres.

After more than six years of war in Syria, an estimated 1.75 million children are out of school in Syria. Some children have never seen the inside of a classroom. Education facilities continue to be attacked as violence continues in many parts of the country. One in three schools are damaged, destroyed or used as shelter. Working with its partners, UNICEF is providing education supplies and text books, rehabilitating schools and training teachers to expand learning opportunities. In 2016 UNICEF reached around 3 million children with education support in Syria. UNICEF has also developed a range of informal education tools such as fast tracked curriculum and self-learning materials targeted to out of school children to help them catch up missed years of education. Passing national exams in a gateway to higher education and a better future.

Hanaa, 8 (above), who was paralysed by an exploding bomb and lost the use of her legs, solves a problem on a whiteboard in a classroom at a school in east Aleppo city, Syrian Arab Republic, Wednesday 28 February 2018. For months after her injury, Hanaa did not want to leave her home, “I was scared and I couldn’t even play with my sisters" she says. Then volunteers from a UNICEF-supported child friendly space in Aleppo brought her to the centre where she can play, sing, and draw. Hanaa also dropped out of school for a year, but she has now resumed her education and loves learning read, write and mathematics. Hanaa also attends physiotherapy three times a week and she is happy that she is getting better little by little. Hanaa has two wishes: “My dream is to become a physiotherapist to help children like me. And my big dream is for peace to return to my country”.

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