Children of Afrin have a tent school in Shehba camp

Around 400 primary school children have started their education in Berxwedan camp.

After the invasion of Afrin by the Turkish state and its mercenary al-Nusra, FSA and ISIS allies, hundreds of thousands of citizens had to leave their homes and their lands and migrated to the areas of Sherewa and Shehba.

Dozens of schools were plundered following the attacks and occupation by the Turkish state, before being eventually destroyed.

Furthermore, thousands of children have been left without education as they were forced to leave the city together with their families.

During the attacks by the Turkish army (which begun on 20 January), 30 students and two teachers lost their life.

In Afrin there were 318 schools but 86 have been completely destroyed during the occupation and invasion operation. In total, 42,000 primary school students, 9,000 preparatory students, 550 institute students and 450 university students have been left without school.

With the help of the Education Committee (KPC) and Afrin Autonomous Administration, a school was set up in a tent at the Berxwedan camp in Shehba. The tent would be equipped to teach primary school students.

In the tent schools there are 14 classes and 400 students, from first to sixth grade. Primary school teacher Dijwar Ibrahim spoke to ANF about the school they opened in the camp.

Ibrahim said that the main aim of the school set up in the Berxwedan camp will be to try to get the heavy atmosphere created by war away from children.

“We opened the school and we’ll teach kids from first to sixth grade - said Ibrahim - because we thought it is important that children are not deprived of their language, culture and education. They cannot stay away from education, which is why this school in the camp is important. Some 400 students will be able to receive education, divided among the 14 classes we managed to set up”. 

Ibrahim said that this first pilot-school will actually be replicated in the villages of Shehba. “We offer Kurdish, Arabic and English lessons in our school. Likewise we also give cultural ethics lessons, physical education lessons. In short, we are trying to offer the same curriculum we were offering in Afrin”.

Of course, given the situation of the camp and the refugees status of the people living there, the school need many things. “We need notebooks, pens and a lot other material. For example, from fourth to sixth grades, we teach Kurdish, Arabic and English. However, because of the lack of notebooks, students are actually using the same notebook for the three languages. We do not have books. Only teachers have books in their hands. Students are sitting on the ground and writing can prove very challenging”.

Dijwar Ibrahim said that war has a very deep and lasting impact on children's psychology. “Life was peaceful in Afrin - he said - The children of Afrin did not know the war first hand. However, they suddenly were exposed to a very heavy war situation. Schools were plundered, destroyed. Suddenly their reality, their daily life changed and all around was violence, death, destruction, pain. And this inevitably has a huge impact on a child’s psychology. Children - the teacher added - have been away from school for three months. This of course have caused problems in their education routine and they are now facing difficulties and problems in retaking a routine of study, concentration”.

The teacher insisted: “Our aim is to try and lift this heavy atmosphere. Going through this heavy situation, being faced with forced displacement, having to abandon their house, their life, is something very hard to deal with for children. We are always talking about our situation during our lessons. We are telling why we are here, why we have been forced to emigrate. And we tell them we will return to Afrin and to our schools”.

Many children have lost their father during this war. “We are playing games, we are trying to create a peaceful environment in which children can also deal with their pain. We talk a lot and we talk also to their families. We talk about how parents should behave in this situation. Children need to progressively overcome the war situation”.

Ibrahim finally called on international institutions and civil society organisations to help the children of Afrin.