Amira dreams of becoming an actress. She grabs her sunglasses and demonstrates her movie star pose, arm on hip and foot forward. She wants to be just like the beautiful actresses she has seen on the TV shows she used to watch, a world away from the current reality of her life.
Amira lives in a two room house with a tiny yard, down a dusty, narrow lane in a small border town in southern Turkey. The home is crowded, as she shares the space with her three younger siblings, her parents, aunt, uncle and five cousins. There’s very little furniture between them, just a couple of mats on the floor in each room.
Amira’s father works as a cleaner in her school. He wants all his children to go to school – though this isn’t easy. Due to the conflict some of them have missed as much as three years of school, missing out on the crucial learning of early years.
Learning loss is hugely problematic for young Syrian children who have missed up to three years of education as a result of the protracted and ongoing conflict. Many of them have faced considerable upheaval and turmoil in their young lives and have missed out on the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy.
Teachers note that some of their students are distressed, in some cases suffering from trauma as a result of what they have experienced. A series of workshops for teachers are scheduled throughout the school year, with topics designed to support them in areas such as classroom management, emotional support of conflict affected children and teaching Arabic literacy — so that girls like Amira can achieve the best education possible in fragile circumstances.
Names have been changed to protect the identities of refugees.
Concern Worldwide’s work with Syrian children in Turkey is funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).