Home > Press Articles > Displaced Syrian children begin school in Lebanon: U.N.

Displaced Syrian children begin school in Lebanon: U.N.

The Daily Star 12/11/2011

BEIRUT: After weeks of intensive counseling, to acclimatize them to their disruptive living conditions and a new curriculum, 500 displaced Syrian children have now begun school in Akkar and Tripoli, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Friday.

There are currently about 3,500 displaced Syrians registered with the United Nations body and Lebanon’s Higher Relief Council in the north of Lebanon, 900 of which are school-aged children.

The Lebanese Education Ministry announced in September that school age children could be enrolled in local schools, through the UNHCR and its partner the Danish Refugee Council, supported by funding from the London-based Said and Asfari Foundations, who assist with school registration, the payment of school fees, and the distribution of books, uniforms, school bags and educational kits.

Robert Przedpelski, UNHCR’s team leader in the north, said that it has taken a long time to ready children, parents and schools for admission.

“Initially many schools were unaware of the decree and not immediately ready to accept Syrian children; parents were afraid to let their children start in a new system aware of the different curriculum, fearing frustration among their children and possible discrimination; and, many children were also afraid to make this radical change,” he said.

Despite many possible challenges ahead with the different Lebanese curriculum, 5-year-old Farah was excited to start school in Wadi Khaled, five months after fleeing Syria.

“I am so relieved to be back in school,” she said. Farah fled Tall Kalakh with her parents and four brothers and sisters in June and all have been sharing one small room in a collective shelter in northern Wadi Khaled since then.

Child refugees have been registeredin over 24 schools in the north, and more children are expected to enrol before the end of the year.

Mohammad Ghadwan Kanj, a school principal in Rama, said Syrian children face several challenges: “Six out of nine subjects are given in French which most Syrian children are not quite comfortable with,” and many are in need of “constant psycho-social support as many have been through destabilizing experiences.”

Also Friday, a Lebanese man, Ayman Owaishi, became the first casualty of land mines planted by Syrian troops along the countries’ border.

Owaishi, 24, was wounded when he stepped on a land mine planted in the border town of Amayra in the Wadi Khaled region, a security source said.

Owaishi is receiving treatment at the Salam hospital in Qobeiyat.

President Michel Sleiman confirmed earlier this week that the Syrian army had planted land mines along the border with Lebanon.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/ArticlePrint.aspx?id=153839&mode=print

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