The Syrian conflict, now entering its eighth year, continues to cause large-scale displacement in the region, resulting in substantial disruptions in vital social sectors in the neighbouring countries which host the fleeing Syrian civilians.
According to UNHCR, the number of the Syrians impacted by the conflict is 6.5 million people, including 2.8 million children, displaced within Syria. This makes the Syrian displacement the biggest internally displaced population in the world. More than 4.8 million Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, with Lebanon hosting 1.1 million of these refugees.
There is a dire need of capacity building for creating learning, inclusive and peaceful environments to welcome and encourage Syrian children to feel included, enrol in schools and to improve their educational retention. However, teachers in general and particularly those who teach in schools with significant number of Syrian children face challenges of how to deal appropriately deal with them in a classroom environment. Responding to this need, UNESCO has developed a self-learning teachers’ kits consisting of five booklets on psychosocial Support (PSS) targeting teachers working with children impacted by conflict and emergency situations.
Against this backdrop, and recognizing the need to build the capacities of the teachers serving the vulnerable children in marginalised host communities, UNESCO Beirut organized on 14-16 March 2018 an induction workshop on “PSS: Teacher Kit in Emergency situation in the Arab States”.
The workshop, which included 25 teachers (10 from Syria and 15 from Lebanon including UNRWA teachers), aimed to :
Develop the capacity of the teachers to effectively handle conflict affected children;
Promote well-being and encourage participation and development of positive behaviours;
Improve teaching and learning in emergency situations and the delivery of effective responses.
In his opening remarks, UNESCO Beirut director Dr Hamed Al-Hammami welcomed the participants and highlighted the commitment of UNESCO Beirut to build the capacities of teachers to allow them to teach effectively and thus improve learning and increase retention and transition rates, especially in times of crises.
During the three-day workshop, participants listened to presentations by experts, and engaged in group discussions and case studies. The expert facilitator Ms Rania Ismail highlighted the importance and value of this workshop: "The PSS kit produced by UNESCO stands out as it combines both a theoretical approach and practical exercises. It first introduces teachers to the general principles and strategies of PSS, than provides them with case studies and exercises that allow them to better digest the material and make use of it. Most importantly, this PSS kit is can serve as a self-training tool for teachers who are in remote or marginalized areas and who do not have access to other material or to the new technologies of information and communication". Ms Ismail said that the workshop was a good opportunity to exchange thoughts and experiences with education practitioners on the field.