Theirworld is running an innovative project to help Syrian refugee children facing emotional difficulties or post-traumatic stress because of experiences in their home country’s conflict.
The project assesses children in pre-primary classes, aged mostly four to six, to identify if they have special educational needs. It is also delivering training workshops to their teachers, enabling them to identify signs of special educational needs and gain a better understanding of how to adjust their methods for those children when they reach the first year or primary school.
One such child is Hassan, who lives with his mother, father and sister in a one-bedroom flat in Beirut and attends the Bourj Hammoud elementary school nearby.
They fled Syria three years ago when violence engulfed their suburb of the capital Damascus.
Hassan enjoys school. He is eager to learn, always has something to say in class, and is very fond of his teacher Maya.
"The children we have here are living in difficult environments. They think about things no children their age normally would," says Maya. "We can see a clear change [in the children] from the training we have done."
Hassan’s mother, Shaza, is keeping her fingers crossed that the education he is receiving will give him a better future.
"I am looking to the future and hoping that something can come of him," she says.
"Education is the most basic right for a child."
He attends the school as part of Theirworld’s ground-breaking ‘second shift’ system, which has been running for three years. After researching the plight of Syrian refugees, Theirworld came up with the idea of using Lebanese schools for Syrian children in the afternoon, after Lebanese children had gone home at 2pm. The policy was adopted by the Lebanese ministry of education and in this way more than 300,000 Syrian refugee children have been educated to date.
The conflict is now in its tenth year, and there are currently more than two million Syrian refugee children living in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
Education is vital for refugee children. Children whose lives are affected by conflict or emergencies can suffer grave long-term consequences, so children back into school quickly after a crisis can prevent them from falling into exploitation and recruitment by armed groups.
Attending good quality pre-primary education not only boosts children’s development, but makes them more likely to plan their families, become productive adults, and educate their own children.
Players have raised over £5.3 million for Theirworld and its work to give every child the best possible start in life.