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Youth Task Force in Za'atari Refugee Camp - Young People and COVID-19, May 2020


The Youth Task Force (YTF) is an action-oriented field-level forum, which is focused on youth-specific advocacy, planning and coordination, while addressing the cross-cutting nature of the population group, and works toward advancing the youth agenda in humanitarian settings in line with the Global Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action.

Youth Voices

The lockdown that became a learning opportunity

When 13-year old Salam first visited UNHCR/Blumont’s center one year ago, she was impressed by the number of classes offered at the center. She decided to take part in some of the classes and to commit until she benefitted from the free extracurricular support. But the start of COVID-19 changed the daily routine drastically, and "teacher Asma asked us to stay home and to create an e-mail instead, to be able to access the Connected Learning Hub Platform", said Salam. This was easier said than done because she had never created an e-mail before.

But together with her fellow students, Salam discovered via the internet how to create e-mail to continue the Arabic, English, and Science lessons.
However, internet access in the camp is a constant challenge. But Salam did not let that stop her and instead, she started waking up at dawn to avoid the heaviest hours of internet usage in the camp, with the goal to continue her learning. Studying remotely was a new endeavor, and Salam always thought that the only proper way to study was to be physically present in a classroom together with a teacher. After this new experience, Salam now believes that online learning through digital devices is a great and innovative way to study! As our societies become more digitalized, this option for learning is adding complementary skills that cannot be taught in class!
The lockdown that became a learning opportunity!

Practices from the Field

How are Youth Programs in Za'atari Camp Adapted to the Current COVID-19 Response?

Za'atari Refugee Camp is highly affected by the nationwide curfew and lockdown measures. All youth spaces, centers, and programs are not operating due to the government's decision to close all public places; only allowing public hospitals to operate. Many Syrian Refugee youth in the camp have limited access to technology and alternate forms of education and information that are being promoted via virtual platforms and online. Despite the internet connectivity challenges, youth-serving organizations in the camp, with great engagement and participation of young people, have developed alternative methods to continue engaging adolescents and youth in the camp.
Below are a few examples:

50 youth volunteers at UNFPA/Questscope Youth Center are utilizing their WhatsApp groups to spread awareness messages to their families, neighborhoods, peers, and social networks about COVID-19. Each volunteer is working via WhatsApp with a group of young people to provide guidance and mentorship on a few selected activities such as music, indoor sports, recreational crafts, English, and tips on life skills and self-development.
Mentorship programs remain active through regular phone calls by mentors and mentees, with a focus on coping mechanisms during COVID-19.

Blumont’s learning activities during COVID-19 have been shifted to remote solutions. Instructors and volunteers have been trained to begin remote classes for students and using online platforms to continue engaging youth in the camp while keeping everyone safe. A pilot phase has been conducted during April to get feedback from young people.

The quick assessment concluded that young people are encouraged to focus on their formal education first and then urged to invest in their personal free time through additional knowledge since they are requested to work on the platform without direct supervision of coaches. Students are not restricted to specific times which means they have an open-source platform they can access at any time suitable for their schedules. The assessment also showed that the majority of students are positive towards this kind of innovative learning platforms, as it is a good source for stress-release from traditional learning.