Syrian refugee children in Antakya (Hatay Province, Turkey) are in a very real and urgent need of the educational and psycho-social support that this initiative is providing. With their childhood harshly disrupted and severely traumatised by a brutal war, many refugee children have lost hopes of improving their futures through education, and disengaged from it as a result. Displaced in a foreign country and living in very precarious conditions, many have missed any form of formal education since leaving Syria and are currently working in subsistence jobs forced by necessity – i.e. helping their families to pay for food, accommodation and energy, for instance, by sorting rubbish or selling merchandise on the streets.
Entirely run by Syrian refugees, the centre provides education and psycho-social support to more than 300 children a year. The educational programme purposely combines effective learning and intellectual skills training with entertaining recreational social activities to help refugee children reintegrate into formal education.
All personnel at the Centre is recruited from and by the local refugee community. Back into work, self-sufficient financially and directly involved in improving the life prospects of their own children, these refugees have proven to be the most committed and determined personnel available.
Courses vary from English, Arabic, Maths, to Basic Engineering, Science as well as Handcrafts. All courses are delivered through small classes and personalised to the specific needs of the children participating. The programme is designed to address vulnerability and equity issues and includes special classes for children who need additional learning support. Social interaction is encouraged as a powerful remedy to help children who appear to be affected by post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and/or distress related to their experiences and/or present circumstances. The centre works with refugee children who come on their own will after and/or before going to work/school. The entertainment/social component of the programme is also key to generate interest and very successful in doing so as the centre has already enrolled more refugee children than initially planned.