As the Syrian crisis enters its sixth year, over 3 million Syrian children are out of school. Inside Syria, more than 6,000 schools have been destroyed, with enrolment rates falling to an average of 50%. In some of the hardest affected areas, enrolment rates can be as low as 6%, which ranks as the world’s 2nd lowest. Due to safety issues, many aid agencies have focused on the educational needs of Syrian refugee children in neighbouring countries. However, Muslim Aid with its partners inside Syria has begun an education project with five schools in difficult to reach- besieged areas, enabling children an access to education.
Most children in the region have been suffering for a long time without educational resources and access. The project aims to rehabilitate children back into school. Begun in March 2016, the ongoing project has already seen 1602 children enrol in five schools inside Syria, with an average 93% attendance rate. Around 2,000 school kits, which included essential stationary and books were distributed to school children and after a needs assessment, plans to refurbish the five schools are underway.
An induction to health and safety training was provided to staff and students on suitable safety procedures and instructions in case of emergencies. In addition, a trained nurse visits the school twice a month to monitor the progress of students’ health and to carry out awareness sessions on relevant medical and health issues.
One of the key aims of the project is to support pupils psychologically; most have suffered psychological distress due to witnessing violence or having lost relatives. The mental health of students are also assessed once a month. In addition, awareness sessions for the families and child carers will be conducted to strengthen and enhance their wellbeing. Already, 269 children have been given special support for their trauma. The Kulona Maak Centre in Syria was established by Muslim Aid’s partners to support children with special needs, who are orphaned or children that have been internally displaced.
A number of short courses and workshops are held on a regular basis to provide staff with the necessary information and training in different subjects, including psychological support, child protection, first aid and health and safety. Recent project developments also include training for 65 members of staff. Plans to use each school as a community centre during evenings and weekends are scheduled for the future, which will provide activities for the community and will include lessons on literacy, English language courses and an income generation programme, especially for women.