In Pictures: The First Day at School for Displaced Syrian ChildrenPublished: Jan 19, 2023 Reading time: 3 minutes
A child’s first few days at school are a formative experience, especially for children whose early lives have been shaped by conflict. 2.4 million children in Syria are out of school, with years of sustained conflict having destroyed much of the educational infrastructure that existed before the war.
With funding from the European Union, People in Need (PIN) is providing non-formal education classes for young children in northwest Syria; an area of the country particularly hard hit by twelve years of conflict. Across 15 camps for internally displaced Syrians, PIN has constructed temporary learning centres to facilitate the education of 11,000 children from the ages of six to fourteen. Often, these learning centres are the only source of accessible education in the camps. For many of these students, the education PIN provides will be their first experience of school, with all of the anticipation, excitement, and memories it brings.
How do children remember their first day at school? From their first English lesson to learning the letters of the Arabic alphabet, six Syrian children who attend non-formal education classes took the time to draw their favourite memories.
Ahmed is a young boy who attends classes at one of PIN’s temporary learning centres in a camp in northwest Syria. He drew his school as he sees it from the outside, on his daily walk to school, with children arriving in the early morning rain and climbing the stairs to the main gate. Winters in Syria can be harsh, as the tents that house displaced families like Ahmed’s are often ill-prepared to endure the rain and snow.
Feryal is in the third grade and was displaced with her family as a result of the conflict in Syria, and now attends non-formal education classes in Idleb governorate. She drew one of her best memories from her first day at school – an English language lesson with her favourite teacher. As well as facilitating classes for students, PIN also offers support for teachers, from providing school equipment like whiteboard markers and notebooks to training and coaching sessions.
Ritaj drew the celebration that was organised when the school she attends was first opened only a few weeks ago. They decorated the playground and the pavilion where they performed a short play on the stage.
Warda is in the third grade and was displaced from her hometown. She now lives in a camp in northwest Syria. In her picture, she also chose to draw the opening day celebration of her school. They set up a stage in the foreground for performances, decorated with balloons and bunting. The open day included activities and competitions that many of the children participated in. Events like this are an important aspect of building positive experiences and memories for children who have endured displacement, loss, and conflict.
This drawing by Mostafa, a young student who enjoys his classes at one of PIN’s temporary learning centres, depicts his classroom with children lining up to attend their Arabic lesson. Due to the conflict, thousands of children in northwest Syria never had the chance to begin their schooling, and so are unable to read or write. PIN is providing basic literacy and numeracy lessons for children with no prior education, assisting them in overcoming the first and most important step of their school lives.
Manal, aged 9, drew herself picking some flowers for her teacher. She also drew her first Arabic lesson, where the teacher taught them the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet.
With the support of the European Union, People in Need (PIN) is creating pathways to quality education and child protection services in North West Syria. Targeting areas with high numbers of out-of-school children, this project offers non-formal education (literacy and numeracy), psychosocial support and referrals.