In Lebanon, we have been working with Lebanese NGO - Triumphant Mercy since 2014, providing quality education in a child friendly environment for nearly 300 Syrian refugee children. These children live in the informal refugee settlements of Bekaa Valley, who often struggle to access education and support.
The project started with four tent schools in the refugee camps in Bekaa Valley but in 2019 the children were brought together in one central building in Zahle, a nearby city. Students, together with trained refugee teachers, are driven in by bus from the camps to learn together in safe, colourful classrooms and have fun with friends in the large play space outside.
As with so many schools around the world, the Zahle school has been closed for much of the past year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Lebanon has also faced further crisis in recent months; economic collapse, political rioting, a devastating explosion in the capital of Beirut along with continual lockdowns. But our teachers have been incredibly resilient, working tirelessly to come up with solutions to ensure the children can still have access to learning back in the camps. On World Refugee Day, we take a look at what our refugee teachers have been doing to offer home learning and support to the refugee children we support in Lebanon.
Hoda is one of seven children and she lives in a refugee settlement in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. She and her family fled the war in Syria, and came here to try and find safety. As the conflict has been going for over eight years now, she and her brothers and sisters have never known anything different.
Sadly Hoda’s father was killed in a car accident in 2018. This makes things very difficult for her mother, looking after seven children in a camp alone, and Hoda has to spend a lot of time looking after her brothers and sisters.
Rishma Akter is a Rohingya refugee from Myanmar, who fled to Bangladesh in 2017 with her family. She received training from our partner organisation and now teaches at Learning Centre 22 in Kutupalong refugee camp. She is 18 years old and happily married. She loves teaching, and loves her students and describes one poignant moment in her career...
Gali is three years old and his parents fled to Kyaka II refugee settlement in Uganda around six years ago after a life-threatening conflict erupted between the Hema and Lendu tribes in their village of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is a world leader in the way it hosts refugees, but Gali’s mother Maurine says that since crossing the border into the country life has not been easy.
MEET BAWK KAI MAI
Bawk Kai Mai is five years old and lives in Kachin State, Myanmar. She attends one of the Early Childhood Development Centres we support in the remote mountain camps near the border of China.
The last set of exams in Lebanon saw some great results. Overall the children achieved a 99% pass rate for the Arabic and Maths tests which were taken by 211 students, and a 100% pass rate for English which was taken by 68 older students.
Exams are graded on a scale of 1 -10 with 10 the highest, 1 the lowest and 6 a pass. The majority of students are high-performing with 70% getting a grade 9 or above in Maths, 67% in Arabic and 59% in English.
You can see from the photo above that the children have loved celebrating, but what would they like to do with their skills in the future? Our partners asked them and here are a few of the responses...
Kyaka II refugee communities celebrate completion of the first four Early Childhood Development Centres.
In July 2020 we broke ground on the start of our sustainable construction project in Kyaka II. Partnering with Haileybury Youth Trust (HYT), over two years we will be working alongside local communities to rebuild and refurbish 14 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres that we support across the 30 zones of the camp.
Near the start of Ugandan lockdown, all education services were shut and the World Food Programme cut food rations by 30% for refugees. Since then, our team in Kyaka II refugee settlement have been finding creative ways to get supplies to the most vulnerable households, support teachers and ensure children have access to learning.
“The loss of her little brother left Jemima and her parents shaken and demoralised. They stopped seeing education as something valuable and were considering stopping her from coming to school” - Ibrahim Bagwiire (resource person for Kaborogota Zone)
During school break, the head caregiver, a team of teachers from her centre, and Ibrahim made numerous visits to the family where they comforted them and gently persuaded them to bring Jemima back to school. They also encouraged Jemima and talked to her parents about how being back in a safe and welcoming environment on a regular basis would be the best place for her at this time.
Jemima returned when school term began in February 2020 and her teachers decided it would be best for her to repeat baby class so she could fill in the gaps she had missed and have another chance to take the exam. They gave her extra time and attention right up until the time the coronavirus pandemic struck.
By then Jemima was attending regularly and doing very well in both classroom and outdoor activities. The head caregiver attributed this turnaround to the expertise of Jemima’s teachers and himself, adding that training from Children on the Edge Africa developed the skills they needed to help Jemima when she needed it most.