After nine years of conflict, the situation in Syria remains one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time, and children are paying the heaviest price. Over 5.8 million school-aged children and about 245,000 education personnel need education assistance in Syria. 2.1 million children are out of school, and an additional 1.3 million are at risk of dropping out because more than one out of three schools is damaged or destroyed (United Nations Humanitarian Needs Overview 2019).
Access to safe and quality educational opportunities remains a challenge for children and youth in Syria. Due to the shortage of functional classrooms, classes are still overcrowded, teaching capacity remains overstretched, and the barriers to access quality and relevant learning for children inside Syria are complex.
To sustain safe, quality and equitable access to learning opportunities AVSI Syria has been implementing in 2020 a new education project, with the SHF Syrian Humanitarian Funds (by OCHA the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) for almost 1000 crisis-affected children in the sub-district of Nashabieh in Eastern Ghouta, a countryside area that surrounds the city of Damascus.
The project, in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education will rehabilitate four schools in the area and will provide new supplies, developing remedial classes, catch-up courses and psycho social activities for children and quality trainings for teachers and volunteers.
Recently, Lucia Castelli, AVSI Senior Child Protection Advisor, and Selim Mawad, Psychosocial Support Consultant, were in Damascus to train the AVSI Syria team, SARC volunteers, Syrian Ministry of Education teachers and psycho-social staff.
“We have to address a wide range of protection issues. Psychosocial support is a natural and necessary need for people suffering from a prolonged crisis, especially children” explains Lucia Castelli.
According to UNICEF, 4 million children (half of the children population living in Syria) need psychosocial support.
“Our main goal is to scale up safe access to formal and non-formal education within a protective environment for children and youth from 5 to 17 years old,” says Lucia Castelli “To do so, we need to strengthen the capacity of the education system and offer teachers the tools to deliver psychosocial support.”
Training sessions have been the opportunity to share the AVSI approach with SARC and the MoE and plan activities.
“We used the Psychosocial Multimedia Pedagogical Tool developed by AVSI to enable trainers and operators to build and reinforce technical skills in the psychosocial approach even in emergency and crisis contexts,” explains Lucia Castelli.