Online Education for Syrian Refugees

Wadi has been providing support for the education of Syrian refugees and Internally Displaces Persons (IDPs) since 2012. Our current project “Access to inclusive primary and secondary education for Syrian refugees and IDPs in KRI” is supervised by UNESCO and funded by the EU in cooperation with our local partners Jinda Organisation and Qubahan.

The ongoing conflicts in the region have led to continuous waves of displaced persons from Syria and Southern Iraq seeking refuge in Northern Iraq. This displacement and all the issues that come with it have placed children and adolescents aged 6-17 at the highest risk of not starting or continuing their education.

The reasons these students are not being schooled are as diverse as their circumstances. Some students left their schools because of the lack of transportation, others left because of the lack of governmental support for the schools in camps (due in part to the economic crisis in the Kurdish Region). Those students who are in schools are suffering from low level of learning materials, poorly trained teachers and inadequate basic school supplies (notebooks, pens, books) which leads to poor performance and high dropout rates.

This project has been quite successful so far, with a much higher percentage of students passing their exams in 2019 because of this program. However, this year the we had to tackle the additional global challenge of COVID-19. The KRI has been hard hit by the virus, and the government has instituted strict travel restrictions, schools have been closed, along with other restrictions. Even with these restrictions Wadi was very committed to keep this project running, so we made a plan with our local partners, schools, teachers, and parents.

An emergency response plan was made to create Facebook pages and groups where teachers and students could meet in one place. The teachers could there provide online teaching to the children. This quick thinking allowed the project to continue, no one was sure how well the plan would work, but the results are very positive. An incentive model was created to reward teachers who provided online classes. About 175 teachers participated in an online training course on how to give classes online to their students. And over 100 teachers of Syrian Refugee secondary students provided online courses through the Facebook groups. Overall an impressive 7,000 people benefitted from this online teaching model. Although online teaching is not always ideal, or easy, it has been a positive tool, that allowed critical teaching for vulnerable refugee and IDP children to continue.