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29 January 2021 - Story

SCI TURKEY: THE GIFT OF A COVID SAFE EDUCATION

Rahima*'s story.

Rahima*'s story.

ABOUT RAHIMA

12-year-old *Rahima comes from the City of Hama in West-Central Syria, off the banks of the Orontes River. She lived happily with her grandparents, three uncles, cousins, mother and father till the conflict erupted in Syria. At the beginning of the conflict, Rahima’s father, mother and uncles were imprisoned and tortured by the Syrian Government forces. Rahima’s mother was later killed in an air strike. Left alone in a relentless war, the family escaped to Turkey.

HER EDUCATION JOURNEY

Rahima’s education came to a concrete halt during the war as she did not have any opportunities to continue her studies during the war. The first year at school was a challenge for Rahima and her brothers. Despite  losing so much time and despite the difficulty of studying in a language she only started learning a few months ago, Rahima quickly closed the gap and she became one of the best students in her class.

After schools closed in March 2020 due to the impeding COVID-19 pandemic, Rahima had to stay at home every day to take care of her brothers. Rahima did not have access to a computer, tablet, smart phone or internet connection to access the resources provided by the Ministry of National Education. The remote education system was kicked off by the Government of Turkey and Rahima lagged behind her friends, as she could not use the remote resources properly.

As part of the SCI Turkey COVID-19 response program, Rahima was identified (by the Provincial Directorate of National Education and SCI teams) as one of the children in need who would be at risk of dropping out if she did not have access to the remote education materials. She would also be facing the risk of resorting to negative coping mechanisms due to the extremely poor financial situation of her family.

In response, with support from the American people through US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration funding, SCI Turkey teams provided Rahima with a brand new tablet fitted with mobile internet access. In order to comply with SCI child safeguarding principles and internet safety standards protective software was installed to block wireless connection, application download and the use of cameras, in addition to fixing the EBA software to the opening window of the tablet. SCI teams visited Rahima to show her how to access the remote education materials. Teams have also met the family members to better assess their situation and provide them with an awareness raising session. Save the Children teams will regularly visit Rahima to support her in her dream to pursue an education and become a role model for all her friends.

RAHIMA TELLS US HER PROBLEM IN HER OWN WORDS

“I am Rahima, I am 12 years old and I am from Hamaa, Syria. I am in the 7th grade currently. Unfortunately, we do not have any equipment at home except from my father’s mobile phone. Every morning my teacher sends my homework to my father’s mobile phone via Whatsapp; I wait until my father comes home at night to find out my homework and try to work on them through the night. However, my father’s mobile cannot access the remote education portal called EBA, so I was not able to learn anything or develop myself at all. This caused me to lag behind even further, and hardly catch up with the other students, especially following the years in Syria without any education. Sometimes my father comes home very late, so I go to bed before he arrives and I cannot even work on my homework.

I love school and my classmates a lot. I used to be motivated to always get the highest grades possible. Due to COVID, I am far away from my school and I pass my days waiting for my father to come home, while taking care of my brothers. Not accessing the resources had been the worst problem for me.

I missed school a lot. Now with this tablet I feel like I am back at school. Now, I do not have to stay awake waiting my father to come.

I wish my mother would be alive to see me now! I wish I could hug her, eat and sleep next to her."

THE DEPUTY PRINCIPLE OF RAHIMA’S SCHOOL SAID:

“Rahima had a very slow beginning with lots of psychological problems. She adapted extremely well and started to perform very well. She developed great relations with her peers, and has many friends. She became an outstanding student. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Rahima was taken out of her classes, and could not reach her homework; which discouraged her massively. It would be a pity for her to drop out of school, just because of the lack of equipment and access.

Thanks to the tablet and connection provided by Save the Children, Rahima will be even better! She will come back stronger to shine as an example for others."

ABOUT THE NO LOST GENERATION PROJECT

A Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) funded project implemented in Hatay. The project’s key objective is that children under Temporary Protection have increased access to quality education in Hatay province, and families have increased capacity to support their children’s learning, development and protection. This will be achieved by supporting their access to education, support and awareness raising for caregivers and parents. TCO provided school transportation to 4,399 girls and boys in Hatay province. 55 early childhood care and development (ECCD) kits and school kits were distributed in Hatay to a total of 29 schools, alongside the renovation of 2 ECCD classrooms.

This project aims to ensure:

  • School aged children have strengthened access to formal education through school transportation support.
  • Provision of information and awareness raising sessions on Turkish school system and a protective learning environment.

Interview conducted by Ahmet Kepik Dal and Sevda Bahsi in Hatay Governorate,Turkey (July 2020).

*names changed to protect identities.