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No to Losing a Generation

The scheme that's helping students return to education.
By Nisrine al-Ahmad
  • No to Losing a Generation. (Photo: Nisreen al-Ahmed)
    No to Losing a Generation. (Photo: Nisreen al-Ahmed)

Young people in rural Idlib have been given new hope by a scheme that aims to help them complete their high school studies.

The ongoing war has disrupted the educational progress of many students of all ages, and No to Losing a Generation was launched in February 2017 to support students’ return to their studies.

Run by the Qabas Foundation for Education, the project’s two centres can accommodate 180 students who have either stopped their schooling or need extra support. They receive free, intensive courses in order to help them return to mainstream education.

Mohamed Ibrahim, 35, the education officer at the Qabas Foundation, said, “No to Losing a Generation consists of three stages. The first is aimed at preparatory and secondary level students in The Bright Tomorrow centre in Turmanin and the Youth of Renaissance centre in al-Dana. The students were selected according to need among drop-outs, those in need of extra and the poorest. The project aims to bring them back to school at a good educational level.”

The first stage ended in May 2017 and the project has moved on to cater for a new selection of students.

“During the summer, in the second phase, we will target 900 students in the ninth grade or under aged between eight and 14 who have either dropped out or need extra help,” Ibrahim said, adding, “As in the first stage, we aim to bring students back to school to successfully complete their studies, achieved through an integrated program that includes training from purpose-made international curricula.”

The third stage will involve an eight-day training for 300 administrators in 150 schools.

“This training is necessary because all elements of the educational process are highly importance and success is an integrated process that needs to involve everyone,” Ibrahim explained.

Mohammed Talib, 32, an English teacher involved in the project, said that students would take advantage of any opportunity to learn. Amid the ongoing conflict, schemes such as No to Losing a Generation might be able to fill the gap left by a lack of conventional schools.

“Education centres are very popular because they are free, unlike private institutions which are too expensive for parents to afford,” he said. “Although I think the curriculum is intensive given the time allocated for its implementation, under these circumstances educational centres might serve as a substitute for schools.”

Abu Issa, 44, the father of a student enrolled in the project, said that he was yet to be convinced that project like this could replace mainstream schools, but added, “I’m waiting for the students to achieve their desired results so as to prove the opposite”.

The project also goes beyond just academic achievement.

“It is necessary to have psychosocial support sessions for students, especially in the first stage of the project with middle and high school students in their teens,” said Jaydaa Hamedesh, a 35-year-old psychologist working at the Turmanin centre.

“Under war conditions, there are many family and educational problems that lead to educational delays. The mind needs sound psychological growth,” she continued.

No to Losing a Generation is catering for a wide range of ages.

Although he is 23 years old, Nour al-Din al-Jaber is still studying for a school diploma.

“If I had completed my secondary education, I would have gone to university and achieved my dream of becoming a mechanical engineer, but because of the war it didn’t happen,” he said. “Now I attend the lessons in the centre in order to get a secondary school certificate, even though it isn’t recognised – but it increases my knowledge and might help me achieve part of my dream in the future.”

His aspirations are shared by 15-year-old Jaydaa Kronfol, who said, “Dreams aren’t impossible to achieve and with education we can build our homeland, so I am determined to complete my studies.”

This article was originally published on IWPR's Syria platform:

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