Refugee educators keep up with the latest teaching methods

Children at Basirma refugee camp play traditional Syrian instruments. © UNICEF Iraq/2016/Niles

“When we came here we thought there’d be no school, and our children would work in the streets, but UNICEF supported us and we have a school,” says Tafra.

Tafra and her family have lived in Basirma refugee camp for three years after fleeing violence in Hassakah, Syria. A teacher at the camp school, she is very proud of what her community has achieved, despite modest resources and crowded conditions — about 1,000 children attend the small school every day, which operates in two shifts.

“This school functions at a high level, as the results of our exams show. There’s commitment amongst teachers and parents to make the school the best it can be,” she says.

School is out for summer, but the campus is busy today because children have gathered to celebrate their teachers receiving a certificate of achievement for attending a 30-day summer training programme.

Students have organized the entertainment, which includes an orchestra, a dance performance and singing.

Syrian girls sing at a concert to celebrate the acheivements of their teachers. © UNICEF Iraq/2016/Niles

Tafra, who is amongst those receiving a certificate, says the training is important to keep teachers up-to-date with the latest methods.

“The training has a good effect on the teachers and students. We’re learning better, more modern methods. We need to be constantly keeping up-to-date, especially concerning psycho-social issues,” she says.

Nearly 300 teachers in five refugee camps, as well as across host community schools, were awarded certificates as part of the summer training programme, which was supported by a generous contribution from the people of Japan.

In addition, with generous funding from the German Development Bank (KfW), 29 Syrian teachers in Basirma Camp completed a 30-day training course in the Kurdish language in order to improve teachers’ communication skills and enhance social integration. While their teachers were busy in class, 243 children in the camp took part in a two month summer programme of art, sports, music, and English and Kurdish language activities. The summer activities for students were also supported by KfW.

Although the teachers struggle with financial constraints due to the economic downturn and also with the fact that many of their colleagues have left for Europe, they are trying their hardest every day to make life better for their students.

Teachers at Basirma refugee camp celebrate completing a summer training programme. © UNICEF Iraq/2016/Niles

“I thank UNICEF for supporting our schools,” Tafra says. “The staff are very grateful that they have opportunities to improve as teachers, and that we have good relations with others, especially children outside the camp. It’s very helpful for our happiness.”


Chris Niles is a Consultant with UNICEF Iraq.

For direct donations to UNICEF in Iraq: http://support.unicef.org/campaign/donate-children-iraq

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