Teachers at the core of UNRWA work in Syria

Recognizing the invaluable contribution and expertise of educators worldwide, UNRWA celebrated World Teachers’ Day by honouring the steadfast commitment of its teachers delivering education to Palestine refugee students across Syria. Every day, approximately 2,000 teachers must overcome difficult if not dangerous working conditions as they welcome over 45,000 UNRWA students in their classrooms.

On the front line, the recent shelling of the UNRWA Salameh Girls Preparatory School in Khan Eshieh camp causing injuries to one student and two teachers reveals the risks educators face when teaching. Beyond the front line, teachers are challenged by difficult working conditions. With infrastructure reduced by 60 per cent and about 70 per cent of students still enrolled compared to pre-conflict levels, many classrooms have become overcrowded. As of the first half of 2016, 90 per cent of UNRWA schools were running on double shift, while another 5 per cent were on triple shift.

In addition to overcoming the physical challenges of teaching in crowded classrooms, educators have also had to learn to address and manage the psychological pressure many of their students face. They not only oversee psychosocial support activities delivered in schools, but they also rely on the support of 55 psychosocial counsellors hired to support the pupils.

However, teachers have been poised to cope with difficulties through the UNRWA Education in Emergencies (EiE) Programme. The programme has helped them develop awareness and increase their capacity on safety and security. It has also ensured that they are trained to provide students with equitable and quality education. UNRWA teachers in Syria are doing all they can to guarantee students are being equipped with the skills and knowledge they need, despite the war surrounding them.