As part of the European Union-funded project “Sustaining quality education and promoting skills development opportunities for young Syrian refugees in Jordan”, the UNESCO Office in Amman in partnership with the Queen Rania Teachers Academy (QRTA) and the Jordanian Ministry of Education (MoE) completed refresher training for 2,000 teachers.
The two-day Refresher workshops were designed to re-enforce the training delivered at the beginning of the school year on the internationally accepted standards for teaching classes that host vulnerable trauma-affected children and larger size classes in a refugee crisis context. The teachers who attended the Refreshers courses represented schools from across the country that have welcomed a high number of Syrian refugees. The refreshers were concluded at the end of March 2014.
With guidance of a QRTA facilitator, teachers were given the opportunity to engage with their fellow educators to discuss challenges they faced managing an inclusive learning environment, share success stories and exchange best practices they found most beneficial. The refreshers were conducted in 60 centers across the kingdom.
On many occasions, the teachers praised the systematic follow-up refreshers as they helped to reinforce important concepts and strategies. One supervisor, in particular, noted, "I have been giving training for years to teachers, still I am impressed with the program that I have decided to write a paper on it for publication."
The initial teacher professional development courses were delivered by specially trained Ministry of Education supervisors and counselors. To ensure the trainers were prepared to deliver the refresher trainings, a specific session was conducted to encourage sharing of best practices and lessons learned. Trainers were asked to reflect upon their experiences namely the support visits they conducted for the 2,000 teachers and share the experiences teachers mentioned in their discussions. Trainers shared that teachers were able to recall how their training prepared them to better identify students who require additional support and to develop remedial strategies ensuring an inclusive learning environment that is meeting the individual needs of students regardless of their background. In one case, a trainer recalled an experience with a student in the Jordanian city of Salt that demonstrated little interest in attending school. He said, "The student only attended school for a few days and then dropped out. The school counselor called the parents to the school and discussed with them the importance of their daughter to continue her education, which resulted in her coming back to the classroom. The counselor worked with the teacher who made the closest connection with the student. Though the student continued to exhibited behavioral attitudes consistent with displacement and exposure to trauma, the teacher was able to rely on her training to identify the student’s needs and develop a strategy to support her. She now attends class regularly and is focusing on her education in Jordan."
The project has put in place a systemic situational response capacity within the Ministry of Education that can be re-used and embedded in other regular school-based pedagogical support programs. UNESCO, as a next step to this project, seeks to utilize technology and digitize the material so that these successful trainings will be accessible to a larger number of teachers hosting refugee and vulnerable students.