As world leaders gather in London on Thursday 4 February, My Voice My School represents important young voices from within Syria. Through a series of Skype exchanges and community surveys, the My Voice My School project is the only youth advocacy project working with schools inside Syria.
The exchanges have featured heartache, shared connections, insights and solidarity.
“What do students need in Syria?” asked teenagers at London’s Oaklands School. “We need love,” replied Alaa Al Nabulsi, a 13 year old student at Palestine School Damascus, who also commented, “I would like to become a journalist to deliver the truth to people.”
“My Voice My School helped me become a courageous person and I overcame my fears and met new people from another place. I liked this project because it gave me a chance to deliver my voice to people,” adds her fellow student, Jihan.
Student groups worked to produce press releases featuring some of the ideas that need funding by the international community to provide young people with a quality education, ensuring we do not face a lost generation in Syria.
A student group at Palestine School in Damascus highlighted poverty alleviation and cash handouts as one of the ways to keep students in school and decrease the dropout rate. “We noticed that the first problem causing dropout of school was poverty. 90% of the [school survey] participants said that poverty is the main problem and we suggested to find a way to support the poor students with money.”
Another consequence of the conflict that is having an impact on education levels is “that many teachers who are highly qualified and has [sic] practical experience have travelled out of the country. We talked about the topic which described the teachers and the skills they must have. We explained the problems the [sic] occurred at schools during the crisis in Syria. We talked about the newly appointed teachers who lack teaching experience.”
But it was not just the students in Syria who identified ways to improve education provision. Hafsa, at Oaklands School in London, was inspired by the level of psycho-social support received by students in Damascus. Oaklands students no longer have access to a school counselling service and Hafsa and her group want to change this, “We had three sessions of Skype calls to the children in Damascus, Syria where they informed us of their problems and how they overcome them. This stimulated us to try and develop our school too, hence why we have introduced the idea of having an onsite school counsellor.”
In partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Skype and with funding from UKAID and Europeaid, Digital Explorer developed My Voice-My School to support classes in Damascus, Qabr Essit and Homs together with partner schools in London and Brussels, with the aim of providing a platform for youth advocates for education.
2 February 2016