Update from Antakya

August 2020

Maria Chambers, project coordinator.

Online learning continues in Turkey and Syria. This week we celebrated with end of course parties – small groups of socially distanced children came into the centre seeing each other for the first time since March. There was a great atmosphere of laughter and playfulness despite the mask wearing and social distance restrictions. Children were given certificates and prizes for their hard work over the last few months. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate.

We are receiving daily reports of an increasingly difficult situation inside Syria – a large increase in reported C19 cases, widespread food shortages resulting in people having to shop everyday: there is no chance of isolation and greater risk of infection.

We are now five months into running our workshops in this Covid 19 environment. Our work is highly valued by children and their families providing high quality educational activities, stimulation and learning. We have been evaluating our successes and future direction.

Future direction

At the start of the new academic year we envisage that all our workshops will be online. We are hoping to be able to have monthly face to face meetings with our new intake of children and carers in small socially distanced groups. Initially to register children, draw up parental support contracts, and conduct a baseline assessment of individual needs. Thereafter follow up monthly meetings would provide a chance to give learning resources and play activities to our children as well as present them with certificates and celebrate their online work. There is a great need for online maths and Arabic language classes that are supported with our learning resource packs. This will be our area of focus.  Our teachers in Antakya have developed a whole years scheme of work for pupils with three dimensional resources supporting interactive learning in the home.

Inside Syria we will focus on our primary school education in Al Fatiah Camp, this too will be online due to increased restrictions – if these are eased at any point we will introduce face to face learning or a drop-in service where pupils can collect resources. Our engineer teachers are currently exploring the options for securing a local wifi network in the camp so that our children can access their lessons. This is complicated by the hilly location and sprawling nature of the camp which is currently doubling in size due to increased movement of IDP’s.

We are unable to currently run workshops in Idlib city due to the confinement of pupils and the fact that families cannot afford wifi. Our work in this geographical area is frequently postponed and over the years we have learnt to be flexible – only delivering workshops when safety allows, following the advice of our local coordinator there.

Link to film of end of term socially distanced celebrations