Meet Jana, a girl from Syria living in the war for her whole life but still full of enthusiasmPublished: Jan 19, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
No one who had seen or experienced a day in Jana's school, in a village in Idleb, northern Syria, would expect to find a child like her; full of enthusiasm and a breeziness. A child who hangs on her teacher's every word. "I love school so much because I can learn. And I love to play with my friends and do my homework," said Jana
After schools across Syria finally reopened again after another round of pandemic-driven closures, Jana could re-join her classmates in the fourth grade. School offers Jana more than just an education; it is a chance to focus on the positive following years of disruption, displacement, uncertainty and loss. More than any child could be expected to bear.
"I have six sisters, but my two little sisters died when we were living in our village. I remember their names. Ahlam and Alya," said Jana, who was studying in the second grade when the conflict came to her village. The sound of artillery shells thumping into the ground nearby forced her family onto the road just as winter came.
"It was in winter. We went to a camp in Sarmada. There was no school, but we moved later and I started my 3rd grade."
Jana's teacher Rasha (29), together with her husband, also fled conflict, eventually settling in Sarmada: "The biggest obstacle at home was the shelling. It was horrifying. Sometimes we had to make a difficult decision about whether to leave children in the school or send them home. It was a big responsibility," said Rasha.
"When there was shelling and airstrikes, we had to decide whether to leave children in the school or send them home."
When she started her new job in a school in the village, Rasha and her students faced another challenge; the arrival of COVID-19 in Syria which had led Educational Directorate to issue the decision of school closures in all the area.. Teachers and students were expected to quickly transition to distance learning in a context where smartphones and Wi-fi access remain hard to come by.
To ease the shift to distance learning, PIN's education team developed a methodology for distance learning and organized workshops and training for teachers. To help children and their educators in the challenging pandemic conditions, PIN´s distant learning methodology aimed to continue supporting students with the provision of education in the schools through WhatsApp-based groups.
Both students and teachers have experienced a series of stop-start lockdowns with little idea of how long each one would endure. The last lockdown in September 2021 was brief by comparison; Rasha and her students could return to the classroom after only two weeks.
Rasha was desperate to return, given how she could support her students more directly from the classroom and adjust her approach to their particular and personal needs: "You can more easily see their problems and weaknesses," she said with relief in her voice.
Over 2.4 million children are out of school in Syria. PIN with funding from the Syrian Cross-border humanitarian fund enables children to continue their education. Jana and her classmates can now study in a formal school where we help children catch up at school during Maths, English or Arabic classes.
Jana is full of enthusiasm and now precisely what her goal is: "I would like to be a doctor when I grow up. If not, I would like to be a teacher." Together with her friends, they can hope for a brighter future and follow their dreams now.
In 2021 alone PIN ensured safe access to education for 21,500 children and supported more than 1,100 educational staff. PIN also rehabilitated, expanded or constructed 22 schools in Syria.
This would not be possible without the generous support of the European Union, Syrian Cross-border humanitarian fund, The European Neighbourhood Instrument, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.