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Fifty students challenge displacement and resume education in tents in Western Aleppo

Editing: Hasan Borhan |
TranslationEditor: Vera Halvorsen |
Translation: Nouha Salti

Aleppo - SMART

More than 50 children in the Qurtuba camp near the village of Batbo west of Aleppo, Northern Syria, challenge the conditions of their displacement and resume their studies in a three-square-meter tent made of old blankets and clothes. A married couple rents the tent to teach the children and encourage them to pursue their goals.

One of the children said, “I love my teacher and I hope to become a teacher in the future; that is why I continue my studies in the tent.” The child added that the teachers make great efforts to teach them.

The child continued, “We continue our studies even though we do not have heating devices or chairs. We also lack books, and would like to ask for help in providing these items.”

Another child, Mahmoud al-Khalaf, said that the tent does not protect them from the cold winter and rain, adding that when it rains, the tent’s floor turns to mud. Mahmoud said, “I love my teacher and my school where I study math, Arabic, and English.”

The teacher Haitham al-Ahmad said in an interview that they rented the three-square-meter tent and opened the makeshift school in the beginning of 2018 to teach about 50 children and prevent them from dropping out.

Al-Ahmad noted that he and his wife teach children aged between six and 11 years in morning and evening shifts. The couple work in the tent with modest equipment and pay 60 thousand Syrian pounds (about $150) in rent every eight months.

Al-Ahmad said that he encourages students to continue their studies and uses different methods to teach them, including singing and playing, in order to revise and understand new lessons more easily.

Al-Ahmad mentioned that he teaches all the children in one tent, as it is the only one, and uses the Syrian Interim Government curriculum. Al-Ahmad said, “We have a blackboard, but we don’t have pens, notebooks, or books (…) we call on concerned parties to provide us with the needed equipment in order to continue teaching the children.”

The worker Abu Muhammad said that he collected pillow cases and blankets from the camp dwellers and built the tent where the children receive their lessons. Abu Muhammad added that he collected money from the residents to buy cement and stone to pave the floor of the tent, while calling on humanitarian organizations to provide chairs for the students.

This tent is not the first of its kind, as volunteer teachers established similar tents in camps of forcibly displaced people (FDP) in Idlib, Hama, and other areas outside Syrian government control. Children in FDP camps suffer from the harsh humanitarian conditions and spread of diseases, amidst a lack of medical care and support for children who were forced to drop out school.