ADANA, Turkey, 8 November 2013 – When Muhammed Ismael, 41, first arrived in Turkey from Edlib, in the Syrian Arab Republic, he did not want just to sit idle. After settling in the Altinozu camp in Hatay, the father of six decided to put his skills and experience as an English language teacher in service to children who, like him, are living as refugees.
He now works as a volunteer teacher in the camp, and he sees his role as more than educational: “As a teacher, it’s very important to be attentive to your students,” he says. “Teachers displaying positive attitudes and instilling hope in children will greatly help them to overcome this hardship with minimum damage and grow up as healthier individuals.”
In cooperation with Turkey’s Ministry of National Education (MoNE), UNICEF is implementing a programme to provide training and support to Syrian teachers living in refugee camps, with a focus on basic teaching methods in camp settings and teaching children who have witnessed war. Making sure that teachers in the camp are fully prepared to be role models and healers is of utmost importance, because they have also witnessed the horrors of the Syrian conflict.
Shaping the future
At a recent ‘training of trainers’ workshop in Adana, southern Turkey, Selman Işık, an education expert, emphasized the urgent need to prepare Syrian volunteer teachers. “The future of Syria will be shaped by its own children. Our main goal is to maintain their hopes and ensure that they keep their dreams alive.”
Today there are more than 1,500 Syrian teachers living in the refugee camps located across Turkey. Since they are equipped with the language skills and cultural background, these teachers play a leading role in educating Syrian children. But they have also been victims of the conflict, and keeping them focused and engaged is crucial.
Beşar, 30, a biology teacher who participated in the Adana workshop, says, “Teachers are the ones who can establish the most effective communication with children. It is very important to motivate them and not to lose them.”
Uniting for children
The first activity organized jointly by the MoNE and UNICEF under a recently signed protocol, the workshop covered a wide range of subjects, including minimum standards of education in emergencies, dealing with children affected by conflict, ensuring active participation of children in the classroom and inclusion of children with disabilities, how to monitor teacher performance and how to conduct teacher training.
During the training, there were nine Syrian trainers from the camps, nine MoNE camp coordinators and nine MoNE trainers. These trainers will roll out the teacher training sessions in selected camps, first in Adana and Kahramanmaras, then in Urfa.
Story by Tulay Guler