المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

“Okhwat Saada” a small example for the illiteracy risk most refugee camps in the Syrian north suffer

Children in the Syrian displacement camps at the border with Iskenderun are facing very difficult times in pursuing their education, given the lack of adequate schools to accommodate thousands of children who were forced to leave their homes and schools, as a result of the conditions imposed upon them by the Syrian war machine, “Okhwat Saada Camp” is a small sample for the deterioration in the educational aspect in the displacement camps, the camp located west of Atma at the Syrian border with Iskenderun north of Idlib, is small with a population of about 600 people from the eastern countryside of Hama, who live on a land with an area estimated to be about 19000 m², and there are about 150 children in this small camp, some of whom are aged 14 and they are suffering from the illiteracy and ignorance as they do not know how to read or write. The camp follows the Displaced People Management of the Rescue Government, and each tent is inhabited by more than two families, i.e. the population of one tent may reach up to 10 people, and this camp faced -as other camps in the Syrian north- the rainstorms that hit the area recently, and everyone suffers from very difficult living conditions.

In a testimony for one of the people in charge of the camp, he told the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: there is no school dedicated to teaching children the principles of reading and writing in the “Okhwat Saada” camp, which caused a disaster a solution for which must be found, namely, more than 150 children of the camp’s population, the majority of them between the ages of 10 and 14 years, are completely illiterate, they cannot read or write, the reason lies in the fact that children have not been educated in their towns and villages from which they have been displaced since the end of 2017, because of the security conditions they were living there in the eastern countryside of Hama province, like the constant shelling on their homes which made their guardians refuse to send them to schools fearing for their lives, and after they settled in this little camp; no organization headed to them to care for and support the educational process, although we appealed to many of them but without any results, and we explained several times that among residents of the camp there are young people of all specialties who are able and competent to start teaching students of the camp’s children as soon as they receive the necessary and sufficient support to do so, like establishing a large tent equipped with seats, boards, and stationery in addition to provide teachers with a material amount to do that, where everyone here suffers from this dilemma, which is the spread of illiteracy among children of the camp, for which a clear solution must be put in order to reduce it, where the ignorance started to spread among all children of the camp little by little, and this is undoubtedly a major threat that may threaten their future, where “Okhwat Saada” Camp is a small model that represents the condition of the camps throughout the Syrian territory.

In a testimony for a resident from “Okhwat Saada” camp to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, he said: “I have been displaced just like hundreds of other people from the eastern countryside of Hama province, under the pressure of aerial and ground shelling and the violence of battles that took place between the Syrian regime’s forces; against the armed opposition factions, which ended in the Syrian regime’s complete control of the area, and a lot were displaced and spread out in camps of displacement in the Syrian north at the border with Turkey, but I settled down in this small camp with my wife and my 8 children, I could not send my children to schools to receive education in the eastern countryside of Hama before displacement, where the war does not discriminate between a young child and a big man, everyone has their share of its suffering, and the situation in this camp was not the best, on the contrary, despite the harsh living and the poor material situation, we suffered here from another problem which is not less important than food and drink and living, the problem of lack of education for children, many of the children here spend most of their time in playing and amusement not caring for a dark future they may have due to illiteracy and ignorance that began to spread among them, I, for example, have 5 children at the appropriate age to enter the school, they have not had the opportunity to have an education, and the rest of the camp’s children are not different, everyone here needs a school for their children, no doubt that now I live in a state of fear for the future of my children if the situation persists, where I do not want them to be in their youth unqualified to have a suitable job work.

Residents of the displacement camps in Syrian north complain that their educational situation is deteriorating, and despite the large number of organizations working there, most of these camps fall behind in the educational aspect, and the phenomenon of illiteracy among children is spreading fast and threatens with generations of illiteracy in these camps, and through special initiatives; some teachers in these schools are setting up a primary school for the teaching children, by establishing a tent in the camp and providing it with some tools for teaching with self-financing and teach children, but most of these schools have suspended their activities for many reasons, including not being recognized by the directorates of education, and the lack of material ability to complete the teaching in them, where there must be a study for this dilemma which is becoming an obsession among residents of these camps, and it is very important to work to establish schools to accommodate all students and develop a good teaching plan, to compensate these children for the study they lost during the years of their lives in illiteracy, this responsibility naturally rests with the official authorities concerned with education, such as the directorates of education of the Rescue Government and the Syrian Interim Government, as well as the international and local Organizations interested in education, to bridge this gap and eliminate the generation of illiteracy that is beginning to grow in among children of the camps in general in the Syrian north.

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