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Published on 22 January 2020

As the world celebrates International Day of Education on 24 January, we showcase the work that a Syrian partner with funding from the European Commission (EC), is doing to ensure that young people can continue their education despite the conflict.

Imagine that your local school is now serving as a refuge for displaced people. School teachers have left due to fear of bombing, and textbooks are impossibly expensive.

This is the reality for children and young people in Northern Syria today. In early 2020, the escalation of conflict particularly in Idlib, has seriously affected children and young people’s education.  It is estimated that over 33,000 school children have not been able to go to school.

Before the war, almost all of Syria’s children were enrolled in primary school, but today the country's school enrolment rates are among the lowest in the world.

We recognize that school can provide a flicker of normality for young people engulfed in this crisis. Access to education and training can help transform lives, reduce vulnerability to joining armed groups, and support peaceful, cohesive communities.

On this day, we share stories from students, who are able to continue their studies at an education centre supported by our Syrian partner. The centre caters for students aged 14-26, some of them with disabilities.

The centre helps to restore their confidence, make new friends, and gain an education under extreme circumstances.

'Education is my future, my hope, my life...', Basel, 18

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Basel sits on a wall Credit: Maher Tarke
Basel sits on a wall

Displaced due to conflict, Basel was forced to miss school. He suffered a spinal injury at birth and hopes that education will help him thrive in spite of this.  He is keen to excel in computing as he does not want to be dependent on others. For Basel, accessing the local education center for free is ‘a miracle’, that otherwise he would struggle to afford. Not only has the center improved his mathematics, English and Arabic, but he has grown in confidence and made friends. 

I lost most of my friends due to displacement. Not feeling my disability gives me more confidence in myself.

- Basel.

‘Knowledge is a weapon for humankind’, Bisan, 17

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Bisan, 17, studies at the Darna centre in Northwest Syria. The centre is run by a Christian Aid partner and funded by the EU Credit: (Christian Aid/Maher Tarke)
Bisan, 17, studies at the Darna centre in Northwest Syria. The centre is run by a Christian Aid partner and funded by the EU

For Bisan, the education center provides a welcome opportunity to mix with new people, after being forced to move to the area because of conflict. Previously she was unable to go to school, but now she no longer fears that she is behind in her studies. Bisan sees education as essential for Syria’s future. 

‘I think that we have to strive for it [education], for the development and advancement of the country’.

- Bisan.

‘Whoever takes a path to seek knowledge, Allah makes the path to Paradise easy for him’, Dalal, 17

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Dalal writing on a notebook Credit: Maher Tarke
Dalal writing on a notebook

Dalal dreams of becoming a doctor so that she can help people. Working hard she has caught up on the studies she missed as a result of being displaced. She feels that the life-skills sessions at the center help her to deal with difficult situations that she faces, and that the friendly atmosphere is encouraging. 

‘All of these difficulties of poverty, displacement and war motivate me to learn and encourage people into education’.

- Dalal.

‘Education eliminates ignorance’, Muhammad, 25

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Credit: Maher Tarke
Muhammad in the library

Through the education center, Muhammad has improved his IT, English and project management skills. He regularly uses the library and enjoys the books available to him. He recognizes that the need to earn a living is preventing young people from accessing education. Moving forward, he hopes to use his new skills in his community. 

‘Education is essential to help me to raise my children in the future’, Omar, 20

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Credit: Marher Tarke
Omar's friend pushes his wheelchair to help him go to school

Omar is hard working and competitive and aims to be top of the class. The conflict left him with a disability. He now attends the center encouraged by a friend who helps him to get there. Previously, he struggled to get up the stairs at his school. In the future, Omar wants to work in education and sees its importance in society. As Omar so beautifully explains: 

‘The Darna Centre is like a bridge that students cross to reach their hopes and aspirations’.

- Omar.