Informal Education Project in the Zaatari Refugee Camp Changes the lives of more than 200 Students

29 February 2016

I can’t thank my teacher Mr. Mahmoud enough. He treated me like an older brother would. If it weren’t for him and this project, I don’t know what my future would have held,” says Jad, a 15 year old student in the UNESCO informal education (IFE) project in the Zaatari refugee camp implemented in partnership with War Child UK and generously funded by the European Union. Jad has been living in Zaatari camp for over a year with his 8-member family. He, along with 109 other boys and girls, has been part of a 3 month cohort attending basic Arabic and math classes, iDEAL psychosocial support sessions, music, and recreational activities.

The academic, psychosocial, and recreational sessions have benefitted the children in more ways than one. One student, 10 year old Najwa, scored only 10/100 in math and 0/100 in Arabic in her placement exams, but at the end of the programme she scored 100/100 in both subjects.  Just as important, her psychosocial development also showed progress—she went from being very shy and agitated to social and calm. Another student, 11 year old Eyad, praised the psychosocial component of the program saying, “I loved learning about how to deal with friends and family, how to help others, and most of all, how to deal with my own psychological problems. They had different trust exercises which helped to reduce my anxiety while also strengthening my relationships with my new friends.”

The program left such a strong impressions on 8 year old Jana she stated, “If we stay that long, I want to be a teacher for children right here in the camp. I want to help them as I was helped. I want to show them that it’s not so bad, and that we can all make it a better place to be when we’re nice to each other.” Jana’s development of a positive nature and resilient spirit during the course of the project provides a strong indication of the impact of the UNESCO-EU funded project. It highlights the important work of supporting children to enjoy their basic rights to education and protection.

UNESCO with the generous funding of the EU, addresses the challenges posed by the continuing influx of Syrian refugees on the quality of education in Jordan through the project, “Sustaining Quality Education and Promoting Skills Development for Young Syrian Refugees in Jordan.” The IFE project in Zaatari was one component of this comprehensive project. In total, more than 200 children have benefited from the six month IFE program. The program recently concluded with a festival for the children and their families.