A forgotten generation: Syrian children dream of education in Lebanon

29 June 2022

Syrian children taking part in educational activities in Balbaak, Lebanon (Kristóf Hölvényi/JRS).

Amin* and his family fled Syria ten years ago, when the conflict broke out. He was just a baby when they arrived to Jbeil, Lebanon.

When he was seven, Amin first joined JRS’s activities. Today, at 10 years old, he attends the JRS learning support program at Nicolas Kluiters Centre (NKC) in the morning and a local public school in the afternoon.

The learning support program is designed to provide language and homework assistance to kids registered in public schools, as well as other educational activities to help students succeed.

Amin is one of many children whose families, for a variety of reasons, had to flee their home country. Growing up in an unfamiliar environment, these children are now battling for a better future in their host countries.

Amin had to overcome numerous obstacles, particularly because he belongs to the generation of distance learners. He was working and learning remotely at the same time during the confinement, implemented by the Lebanese government, due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Many Syrian children living in Lebanon have never seen their parents’ country (Kristóf Hölvényi/JRS).

While working with adults, he was subject to numerous forms of harassment, the most serious of which was an attempt to persuade him to drop out of school to make quick money. His mother’s persistence, as well as the administration’s and social worker’s support, prevented this from happening.

At his young age, Amin has already worked in supermarkets, coffee shops, and sewing. These experiences encouraged him to study harder and complete his education. “Without learning, I can’t accomplish anything”, he recognises.

He likes school because of the opportunity to build positive relationships, earn respect, feel safe, and receive a high-quality education.

Unfortunately, his life at home is not easy. “I hope my sister could hear and speak, I wish I could acquire a bike, and I wish to complete my education at university”, Amin dreams.

Without learning, I can’t accomplish anything.
AMIN

His four-year-old sister was born with hearing difficulties. She is able to use about 30% of her hearing abilities, thanks to medical aid and equipment, but she can only express herself through screaming and movement.

The health of Amin’s sister has a significant impact on him. He remains depressed because he attempts to play with her, but she does not respond to him. He feels he is unable to communicate with her as he desires. At the same time, he is also impacted by his mother’s situation, as she travels between hospitals trying to secure the required care.

Amin wishes to assist in one way or another by providing treatment for his sister, so this is constantly on his mind.

In the future, he aspires to be a police officer so that he can “defend society from criminals and fight corruption”. He wants to finish his education in Lebanon and then relocate to another country where he can find more security and stability.

He also hopes that the situation in Syria improves to the point where it was before the war, when it was safe and secure. And then, just maybe, he may return to his homeland with his family.

 

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

 

This story was originally published on jrs.net