Four weeks ago, school was suspended for almost 3.8 million children across Syria as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19. With no clear date for when school will resume, children in Syria and across the globe are finding ways to continue learning despite the challenges.
In Deir Ez Zor city, 9-year-old Masa is trying to keep a regular schedule. Talking to us over WhatsApp she says her parents and older siblings are helping her with learning.
“I get up in the morning as if I am going to school. I make my bed, wash up and have breakfast with my family. After that I sit with my sister to start studying,” explains Masa. “We have a 3-hour studying program every day except on weekends. After studying I get to play with my dolls. I also help my mother with housework and I talk with my friends and classmates over WhatsApp too.”
The sad truth is that children in Syria are used to interruptions to their education, due to many years of conflict and have subsequently learned ways to overcome these interruptions.
In Ar-Raqqa city, 12-year-old Maram is continuing her learning by using the Self-Learning Programme books she had received a few months ago.
“My mother offered to teach me at home using the self-learning books. Together we put a weekly study programme for all subjects and we have followed it since I stopped going to school,” Maram tells us.
“I was shocked when I heard that the education would be suspended in Ar-Raqqa. I thought I would lose out on learning again,” she says, having originally had to leave school when she and her family were displaced.
The UNICEF-supported Self Learning Program is designed to help children who dropped out of school or are in risk of dropping out. Today, the curriculum is helping children and parents to continue learning even when schools are suspended. The program contains the main subjects such as Arabic and English languages, Math, and Science.
Maram and Masa agree on that the learning at home is not as great as at school, but it is better they are both keen to keep on learning regardless.
“I like the competition we have in school,” says Maram, “but I am glad I have a way to keep learning.”
Masa finds learning at home less fun than at school and thinks that some challenges might be ahead; “I think it is very likely that you will find complex issues and topics that you can’t solve without a teacher,” she says.
Lending a Helping Hand
Maram and Masa tell us about the hygiene personal practices and other prevention measures that they adhere to protect themselves from COVID-19.
“Before the suspension of schools, our teachers taught us how to protect ourselves from COVID-19 through washing our hands with soap and water frequently, avoiding crowded places, playing in the streets, or participating in team games,” explains Maram.
Masa says: “I wash my hands well with soap and stay at home.” Adding, “When I grow up I want to be a doctor. I want to find the cures for all diseases and epidemics so all children can be safe.”