UN pledges £7bn for refugees as east London schools use internet to talk to Syrian children
PUBLISHED: 21:57 04 February 2016 | UPDATED: 03:23 05 February 2016
A British government project helping children in war-torn Syria get their education has been started with youngsters at two secondary schools in east London using the internet to forge links with classes in Damascus.
The project, My Voice, My School, was launched at Bow Secondary and Bethnal Green’s Oaklands Secondary by the Department for International Development.
The launch was followed by today’s UN conference held in London to raise international aid for Syrian refugees, which has pledged £7 billion.
The Tower Hamlets schools are now collaborating with classes in Damascus to develop advocacy projects promoting global equality in education.
Pupils at Oaklands linked up with students in Damascus by Skype in a joint campaign for a counsellor in every school. They have been learning about the high level of pyscho-social support the Syrian students get which raised their awareness of emotional needs of youngsters in every school.
My Voice, My School is a classroom project created by the UN Relief & Works Agency in partnership with Skype that gives students a voice in their future, as they explore the universal right of education and free expression of opinion.
But two decades of progress have been lost in Syria’s schools with enrolment rate plummeting after five years of civil war. One-in-four schools are not functioning, which have either been destroyed or are being used as shelters for displaced refugees.
Many Syrian children have never been to school, or have lost years of schooling due to the bombing and fierce fighting that prevents them attending classes.
The London conference brought leaders together from countries around the world, from governments, non-government organisations, private sector and civil society to tackle immediate needs of those affected by the Syria crisis and to offer longer-term support.
Now the young students in east London have taken part in live video Skype exchanges with their opposite numbers in Syria, as “global advocates for universal education”.
They voiced fears about the need for safety to study, concerns for economic opportunity through education and the risk of dropping out of school.
The exchanges are bringing them new insights and perspective on their roles as the “global citizens” of the future.