How Education and Psychological Support Helps Northern Students

For 14-year-old Sima and many children like her who live in the Barsima Syrian refugee camp in northern Iraq, summer vacation usually means staying home most of the time or visiting friends , “We don’t have an amusement park or a public park to go to, so we stay home most of the time,” she says.

This is not an ideal situation and it puts additional pressure on children who have already faced conflict, displacement, poverty and a pandemic. All this affects their psychological health and their academic level “Some students lose their concentration even if I speak directly to one of them, so they find it difficult to follow classes and study at home,” said Yassin Ghazzal, an Arabic teacher from Al-Anbar in Iraq, describing the harsh conditions for Syrian refugees and Iraqi children.

In light of this and to support all efforts to improve the state of education in Iraq, People in Need (PIN), as part of the consortium funded by the UNICEF Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund, and in partnership with Save the Children, INTERSOS and RWANGA; started remedial and remedial classes in four schools in northern Iraq, including recreational activities and PSS.

These lessons and activities served as a link between the student and the school, which helped them improve their academic level, review what they had learned before and be ready for the next school year.

It also plays an important role for teachers who can be closer to students and give them more time than usual school classes, which helps improve the relationship between them and students. “Because of their difficult situations; teachers must be sensitive to the needs of the students share with them their joy and sadness and play with them, so that they trust the teacher and listen to what we say”, said Shaker Abdulrahman, a math teacher at the school in the camp where he also lives. “Thanks to the courses organized by PIN, we have more time to devote to students who are struggling in the subject because it is a sensitive subject for them to express themselves in school classes.

To integrate the efforts of the teachers, it is necessary to have psychological support and entertainment activities for the students in order to make the summer courses more attractive. By helping students overcome difficulties in their personal lives, children will be able to focus on their studies and be more present in class. “PSS activities are important for students because they don’t have them during the school year.” Yassen said. “Students come to see me and ask me if the activities can continue throughout the year. They really appreciate it and they attend from day one until now without skipping a single class. »

While taking PSS classes, students listen to motivating stories that help them in their lives because they listen with both their hearts and minds. “I remember in one of the stories that will always stick in your mind, it was about how you can find good things even in the most difficult conditions. I felt like he was talking about me.” sima said. “Also, the teacher told us about one of his students in the camp who is studying medicine now, I want to be like him. Despite our situation, I study hard because it’s the only way to have a better life.

Thanks to UNICEF’s Education Cannot Wait fund and our consortium partners, Save the Children, INTERSOS and RWANGA, we were able to help Sima, Yassin, Shaker and many other students and teachers in northern Iraq to support their efforts to build a better future. .

Helen D. Jessen