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February 14, 2013

Displaced Syrian Children Struggle for Education

by Scott Bobb

Syria's two-year-old civil war has displaced an estimated two million people, and more than one-half of them are schoolchildren. Some of the camps for the displaced are opening schools.

During a school day at the Bab al-Salama school in northern Syria, several classes study under this tent, with one of four pitched on the edge of camp not far from the border with Turkey.

About 1,000 children attend classes for three hours each day. Because of a lack of space, there are two shifts - one in the morning, another in the afternoon.

Hassan, 20, fled from Aleppo six weeks ago. A teacher of Arabic by training, he instructs several different classes including these fourth-graders.

“We have books, but we need the materials to prepare the courses. We are trying to develop a curriculum,” he said.

Hassan said attendance is not mandatory. Some children help their parents by working in the camp. But most of them want to go to school.

“Before we got the tents, some children were studying in the mosque. They like having the school and they like learning,” he said.

Hassan said school provides some structure to the children's lives and it exercises their minds, which is important. It also helps them fight boredom and forget the trauma of war.