Antwan Chnkdji and Yasmine Saker
Despite challenges and an arduous journey, children are determined to pursue their dreams
Aleppo, Syria, 15 September 2020- In late July, over 3,000 brave boys and girls set out on a long journey from hard-to-reach areas in rural Aleppo including Manbij, Albab, Azaz, Ain Alarab and Jarablus, to sit for their national Grade 9 exams in Aleppo city.
Working with partners and other UN agencies, and thanks to generous contributions from Japan, Canada, Norway and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), UNICEF provided the students with support including remedial classes to prepare for the exams, bursaries to help cover transportation costs , the provision of stationery, learning materials and meals, as well as psychosocial support through group and one-on-one sessions. Children and chaperoning teachers also received mine risk education to ensure their safety when returning to their war-ravaged areas where explosive hazards are prevalent.
To ensure a comfortable stay for students, UNICEF also prepared 6 accommodation centres in the city through rehabilitation of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, provision of safe drinking water, installation of windows and doors, and maintenance of electricity. To guarantee the safety of students amidst COVID-19 concerns, UNICEF undertook daily sanitation of the accommodation centres and over 60 exam centres.