Zaatari Camp, Jordan: The first educational compound was opened for Syrian refugees in the Zaatari camp in northerm Jordan. home to 41,000 people.
The facility, opened by Bahrain’s Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, chairman of the Royal Charity Foundation, is expected to give a lifeline to 4,000 displaced boys and girls in the elementary and intermediate levels.
“This place will give these young people hope and ambition for the future,” Shaikh Nasser said as he visited classrooms and chatted with young students about their conditions and education.
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) officials praised the initiative and said that they looked to the young children gaining a dimension of normality in their daily lives.
“The children have been through lots of hardships, including the challenge of moving from Syria to Jordan,” Dominique Isabelle Hyde, Unicef representative, said. “They have witnessed so many things that children at their age should not have. We thank all those who contributed to the school,” she said at the opening ceremony, a few metres from the classrooms where young girls were receiving their formal education.
The $4 million (Dh14.68 million) compound has four schools, two for boys and two for girls, where 3,500 children have enrolled since October 1.
“We had a very difficult time with the students’ registration because most parents initially had grave concerns,” a teacher told Gulf News. “They were worried that their names would be somewhat relayed to the authorities in Syria who would take revenge action against their relatives who did not leave the country. However, once, they were convinced that there was no suspicious scheme, they signed up their children.”
The school will operate on two shifts, with morning classes for the girls and afternoon courses for the boys.
“They are really excited to be part of the school and to be able to come to learn and meet friends,” Hamda, the school principal, said. “We are doing our best to help and to have the children follow a regular education that will brighten up their future. They have been through a lot and do deserve compassion. We are grateful to Bahrain for the school and to all those who have helped create and improve the learning environment,” she said.
Shaikh Nasser who was given an enthusiastic welcome by the students as he sat with them said that he would come back to the school to see how they were progressing.
“I am honoured and pleased to be in this school,” he told reporters. “In the short time I have been here I have seen what kind of education they have. This place is giving them hope and ambition for the future.”
Shaikh Nasser said Bahrain and neighbouring countries had the responsibility of assisting one another in times of need.
“This is how the world goes. You need brothers to stand by you when you fall down and that is what Bahrain is doing. They have been there for us in the past and if there is another disaster we will be there for them. But, I do hope nothing bad will happen.”
Shaikh Nasser said that Bahrain wants its projects to help people based on their needs.
“In Somalia, we focused on wells, while here at Zaatari Camp it is a school. We have just had a $1.3 million agreement with Turkey for the construction of a field hospital for the Syrian refugees.”