Maria (our project coordinator) has recently spent some days at our Education Centre for Syrian Refugees in Antakya. She shares with us her experience:
“It was so encouraging to see two strands of the curriculum developing so positively during my recent visit to Antakya. The children were busy learning Science Experiments, Literacy and Numeracy Basic Skills. I also observed classes in 3D Paper Engineering, Electricity, DNA biology, Mechanics (creating moving models), Geometry and Interactive Maths. The centre is currently focused on model-making using cardboard paper straws and a basic homemade meccano. Pottery and painting classes will be part of the summer programme.
The classes are well equipped and decorated with homemade resources (for example a magnetic Arabic letter set). A module rotation plan ensures that all children have access to the same education. The children are happy, confident and fully engaged in their learning and their work is celebrated through photography and the centre’s Facebook page.
Ustaz Tarafa is in charge of the Science modules, while Fadia is taking care of English and Maths. I was really impressed with the commitment and attention given to personal development: the staff benefit from strong internal support and are given time to develop their curriculum and discuss schemes of work, lesson preparation and feedback.
A few figures
By law, all children need to be registered with a school and we insist that our children are registered in order to avoid any problem with the Turkish authorities.
However, we have a situation where although registered about 30% are not attending. This figure has reduced over the past year as more schools have opened and we are confident that the number will keep going down.
Children attending school are being taught in Turkish and are learning the language very quickly. For this reason during our current course we are not offering Turkish language classes. Fadia feels these are not a priority at the moment. Instead, Science, Maths, encouraging a love of learning and curiosity and literacy in Arabic are the current focus.
To date, 100 children attended our first programme, 40 children our language programme, 58 our “combined handcrafts and science” course, 7 pupils took part in our gifted and talented group while 50 attended our weekend programme for a total of 255 pupils in the first year.
We currently have a significant waiting list and over the forthcoming year, we wish to:
- Build on current skills of our children.
- Retain 60% of our weaker pupils and those that are currently not attending school.
- Attract 40% more pupils with each course, targeting those who are not currently attending school.
Current situation in Antakya for Syrians
Ever changing Turkish rules, restrictions in Hatay province, very few employment opportunities and high rents make day-to-day life very hard. Expiring passports and IDs make leaving the city extremely challenging for most people. When we travelled between Antakya and Gaziantep we counted six checkpoints.
High levels of cancer, expensive and limited access to medical services as well as the pressure of having family members displaced inside Syria make for a complex range of anxieties and mental health disorders. I was witnessing daily stories of hardship: people have extraordinary resilience but longevity of the situation is taking a serious toll.”
Maria Chambers Feb 2017