Share and raise awareness on #ChildrenofSyria
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By Tulay Guler

ADANA, Turkey, 31 October 2013 – When Muhammed Ismael, 41, first arrived to Turkey from Edlib, he did not want to just sit idle. This father of six, who used to work as an English language teacher, decided to put his skills and experience at the service of children who now, like his own, live as refugees. 

Now a volunteer teacher who lives and works in Altinozu Camp in Hatay, Muhammed sees his role as not just 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 to grow up as healthier individuals.”

But making sure that teachers, who themselves have witnessed the unspeakable horrors of the Syria conflict, are prepared to take on their role as healers and role models is of the utmost importance.

With funding from the European Union, a project is currently implemented by UNICEF and Turkey’s Ministry of National Education (MoNE) to provide training and support to Syrian teachers living in refugee camps on basic teaching methods in camp settings, with a focus on teaching children who have witnessed war.

Children will shape the future

At a training of trainers workshop earlier this month in Adana, southern Turkey, Selman Işık, an Education Expert, stressed the importance of preparing Syrian volunteer teachers for the task ahead of them. “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.”

Currently, there are over 1,500 teachers living at the camps located across Turkey. They play a leading role in Syrian children’s education since they are best equipped with the language skills to do so.

But they too have been victims of Syria’s conflict and keeping them motivated is crucial.

Beşar, 30, a biology teacher who participated in the Adana workshop, stresses the need not to forget that Syrian teachers are refugees too. “Because 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 workshop was the first activity jointly organized by the MoNE and UNICEF under the recently signed protocol between both partners. It focused on the minimum standards of education in emergency, how to increase resilience of children and deal with children affected by conflict, basic teaching skills, classroom management, ensuring active participation of children in the classroom, how to include children with disabilities, how to monitor teachers’ performance and how to conduct teacher training.

During the training, there were 9 Syrian trainers from the camps, 9 MoNE camp coordinators and 9 MoNE trainers. These trainers will roll out the teacher training in selected camps.

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Turkish and Syrian trainers are planning training for Syrian teachers who can easily communicate with children in the camps. ©UNICEF/Turkey-2013/Feyzioglu

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