THE WILL TO LEARN
REHABILITATED CLASSROOMS SUPPORTED THROUGH EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND UNICEF IN SYRIA GIVES A BOY WITH A CONGENITAL HEART DISEASE A NEW LEASE ON LIFE
‘I don’t want any child anywhere in the world to lose their right to learn’ – Zakaria, 12.
Stories from the Field
Special Contribution by UNICEF Syria
As violence escalated in Deir-ez-Zor, Syria, almost five years ago, Zakaria and his family had nowhere else to go and chose to stay in their hometown of Al-Jaffrah.
When fighting destroyed the only school in town, Zakaria’s only alternative was to continue his learning by walking to a school in a nearby town, an hour away on foot. However, born with a congenital heart disease, the daily walk of over eight kilometers proved
“I felt different from other kids who could walk to school easily over the long journey,” recalls Zakaria, now 12. Despite all the challenges Zakaria continued to walk to school, carrying his heavy school bag, but still determined to continue his learning to become a teacher when he grows up.
Thanks to funding through Education Cannot Wait’s Initial Investment in Syria, UNICEF and partners rehabilitated eight schools in Deir-ez-Zor, including 116 classrooms, allowing Zakaria and 3,500 other boys and girls to continue their learning. Since its start in April 2017, the US$15 million investment has reached 177,000 children, including 85,000 girls. To support the unique needs of children growing up in conflict, the programme has strengthened the capacity of the education system to ensure a timely and coordinated education response, improved equitable access to education and learning opportunities, and improved the quality and relevance of education within a more protective environment.
“I’m so happy to be back in my original school,” says Zakaria with a grin. “I don’t want any child anywhere in the world to lose their right to learn.”
In 2019, 13 new schools are being rehabilitated in Deir-ez-Zor to ensure more children can return to their classrooms.
With the hard work of six international NGOs and 11 Syrian NGOs across the country, some 85,000 children have been enrolled and supported in education services to date. The programme also looks to empower teachers and communities. Since its start, some 2,600 teachers and other education personnel have received stipends and incentives, and 1,237 classrooms have been established or rehabilitated.
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Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.