This article was originally posted on the Finn Church Aid website
FCA will be supporting 4,000 crisis-affected children and youth in Hama area in Syria with access to quality education in a safe and protected environment.
Finn Church Aid (FCA) has been granted over 680,000 USD from the Syria Humanitarian Fund to support 4,000 children and youth to access quality education in Hama area, Syria.
After ten years since the war broke out, the Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis of our time. About 6.2 million people are displaced within Syria, and nearly 12 million people in the country need humanitarian assistance. At least half of the affected people are children.
The war has also left the education system in ruins. More than one in three schools are damaged or destroyed, and many are used for other purposes than education. Some schools operate in double or triple shifts to accommodate the massive influx of displaced children.
Meeting the needs requires collective efforts from national, regional and international educational actors, says Karam Sharouf, FCA’s Education Programme Manager in Syria.
“Education is the key to comprehensive human, economic and socially sustainable development. Therefore, continuous support should be provided to the education sector in Syria, and educational capabilities that could contribute to rebuilding Syria should be developed“, Sharouf says.
Quality education through rehabilitating schools and training teachers
In the communities that FCA will support in rural Hama, approximately one thousand children are out of school, setting the enrolment rate at 77 per cent. Poverty and a lack of safety and security remain critical barriers to accessing education. Protracted displacement and limited economic opportunities have forced people in Syria to adopt negative coping strategies, including child marriage and child labour. This is usually more common in villages without schools, says Sharouf.
“There are many cases of early marriage, and many families rely on their children working due to the absence of the father, who might have died or travelled away“, Sharouf says.
Schools constitute a protected environment for children and enhance their well-being, but currently, schools are overcrowded. They also lack doors, windows, heating systems and learning materials. Sanitation facilities are largely unusable. FCA will rehabilitate school buildings to make them safe and accessible and construct inclusive and gender-sensitive sanitation facilities.
The need for teacher training is enormous as the number of teachers in Syria’s formal education system has declined by more than half in the past five years. The remaining teachers have not received systematic in-service training during the war, and newly recruited teachers often lack the required qualifications. FCA arranges teacher training that includes child safeguarding and psychosocial support, and equips schools with teaching materials and recreational kits, for example, craft materials and sports equipment.
The programme will also focus on ensuring access to quality education for children and youth through non-formal education, such as remedial classes and accelerated learning that helps learners to catch up with their age-grade after years out of school.
“These groups will be able to continue education and keep up with the academic achievement of their peers, thus reducing their chances of dropping out of school to a minimum“, Sharouf says.
FCA has substantial experience in providing quality education services, especially in emergencies, and is a solid partner of local actors already implementing education activities in Syria.