By Toby Fricker
ZA’ATARI, Jordan, 27 February 2013 – It’s back to school for thousands of Syrian children at Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan.
“I am more than happy to return to school and study. I love my teachers, my classes – and I really love my studies and the girls in my class,” said Arwa, a Syrian refugee child at the camp, with a joyful smile, on her return to school.
School closed for break, open for shelter
The school at the Za’atari refugee camp was closed for three weeks following heavy rains that flooded some of the refugee shelter areas. It became a make-shift home for thousands of refugees.
Luckily, this disruption took place at the same time as the winter school break. Classes are now full on again – bringing some degree of normality to the lives of these children living under challenging circumstances
Back to school celebrated
At the start of the school term, a delegation from the European Union, one of the school’s largest funders, visited the reopening of the school. This visit, and the first day back at school, was an important marker for the girls and boys of Za’atari, who are eager to continue their education.
With the children’s return, a big celebration day was organized together with UNICEF, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children Jordan that included all kinds of activities for the children, such as singing, playing a variety of games, flying balloons and expressing themselves through drawings in which they could send messages to the world.
“Back-to-school-day is not only about education, but marks a return to normalcy for so many children who have not been able to go to school for months because of the crisis in their home country,” said UNICEF Jordan Representative Dominique Hyde. “It’s also the beginning of hope for many parents who see education as the only future for their children right now.”
Second school being built
To meet the needs of the large influx of refugees in the Za’atari camp, which is home to tens of thousands of refugees, half of them children, UNICEF is building a second school to educate another 5,000 children.
A third is needed, but a lack of funds means over 5,000 children won’t be able to go to school in Za’atari – if money is not forthcoming.