Syria Crisis: Digital support for schools at the heart of the conflict
For over 6 years, Syrian children have been going through the worst humanitarian crisis in the modern world, to such an extent that its consequences go far beyond the country's frontiers. As the civil unrest continues to shake Syria, more and more children have no choice but to abandon their schooling. Whilst many have sought refuge outside of the country, over 30% (representing some 1.75 million children) remain out-of-school within Syria.
Offering educational support using new technology to Syrian IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) and refugee children since 2013, TSF has provided schooling for 5,170 pupils. TSF's programme takes place in the north of Syria in two centres in A'zaz and one in Al Salama, as well as a structure in Gaziantep on the other side of the border in Turkey.
TSF continues its action in giving these children access to education via the most advanced and appropriate technological means. Equally, these means can contribute to combating the isolation in which many refugees and displaced people find themselves, by offering them ways to communicate with their family and friends via the use of ICT. Moreover, these means can contribute to the psychological stabilisation of the children in offering them a learning environment in which they can think of other things than the war and freely express themselves in a way that is both fun and interactive.
Each mLearning centre is run by a Syrian staff member employed by TSF who has been trained in the use of the equipment provided within a school framework (tablets, computers, internet). The activities organised by the TSF teacher are linked with the lessons delivered by the schools, in accordance with the Syrian curriculum.
The means provided by TSF – internet connections, tablets, computers, full time centre managers – allow the children to benefit from the multiple sources of information that exist on the internet with the aim of building upon the learning they receive at the school under the supervision of the manager. Additionally, they are able to benefit from a different method of teaching based on creativity and the exchange of work between children.
These lessons can include learning about Syrian geography, English, cultural research via the internet, inter-centre exchanges with other children from TSF mLearning centres, creation of comic strips, history lessons etc.
October 2016 - A new mLearning programme in A'zaz
Since October 2016, a new education project is in place, with particular attention being paid to vulnerable young girls in the town of A’zaz. 40 tablets have been dispatched to the two schools in A'zaz, offering connectivity, along with a multitude of educational resources for teachers and pupils (apps, educational websites, encyclopaediae, videos).
TSF trains teachers in the use of the tablets, allowing them to integrate the new digital resources into their lessons. Specific mLearning-oriented sessions carried out by TSF staff complement the schools' traditional lessons.
This technology allows children to make the most of several sources of documentation and information available online and deepen their understanding of their traditional lessons, whilst developing creative exchanges. In total, 1,271 children benefit from the A'zaz mLearning programme.
TSF's objective is to develop existing activities and organise theme-specific sessions aiming to promote the education and the fulfillment of young Syrian girls.
** Camp mLearning centre, Bab-Alsalama, Syria!**
In parallel to this new programme, TSF pursues its mLearning activity initiated in 2013 in two schools within the Al Salama refugee camp.
The Alsalama refugee camp is situated on the Turkish-Syrian border at the Oncüpinar crossing point, between towns of Kilis, Turkey and Azaz. The number of IDPs in the camp varies from 5 000 and 10 000 people according to the period and the security conditions. The TSF mLearning centre is organised in collaboration with the camp's school. Based on the same model, the centres host a total of 471 children.
Rainbow Centre in Gaziantep, Turkey
On the other side of the border in Turkey, TSF instigated a new partnership with the "Rainbow Centre" in Gaziantep. The centre was created in August 2015 by Syrian refugee volunteers living in the city. The structure is situated in one of Gaziantep's poorest neighborhoods and was set up to provide a place for children who were previously begging on the streets or being forced to work illegally. Its aim is to provide a safe-haven for Syrian refugee children and protect them from the dangers of the streets, whilst teaching them the fundamentals of education. A TSF staff member gives mLearning lessons using tablets on themes such as Maths, Science, English and Geography. The Rainbow Centre currently welcomes 60 children.
Each day spent in school brings stability into the lives of pupils, restoring hope and creating objectives for the future. Thanks to education, these children will be able to acquire the necessary skills to prepare their future and help rebuild peace where it is needed the most. It is for this very reason that TSF has been supporting education for Syria since 2013. Its expertise in ICT in the education domain currently benefits 1,802 Syrian children.