MECI’s mission is to address the educational, psychosocial health and other basic humanitarian needs of children and women in impoverished and war torn areas, and we believe helping children affected by the trauma of the war in Syria brings us closer to our goals.
Working towards this mission, MECI has partnered with Jordanian public schools to educate out-of-school Syrian children who have fled the ongoing violence in their country and taken refuge in Jordan. This Ramadan was an extremely busy time for us with programs in 9 new schools - 3 each in the Jordanian governorates of Ramtha, Irbid and Salt - starting in July.
Many of these children have never been to school while others have been out of school for many years. To educate them, and to make it easier for them to enter the Jordanian public school system, MECI runs basic education programs for Syrian refugees. The local teachers we hire teach students Math, Arabic and English, along with art, sports and life-skills training for their holistic development. 30% of our students are Jordanian, and we provide them with remedial education to help them keep up with the public schools classes they are enrolled in.
This year we have partnered with UNESCO-EU in 3 schools, educating 315 Syrian students and 135 Jordanian students, and with UNICEF in 6 schools, educating 630 Syrian students and 270 Jordanian students.
To get our wonderful programs started, MECI staff has worked day and night. Here is a photo essay that shows the madness in our office in Amman in the last 2 weeks:
MECI provides all students with a bag, books for English, Math and Arabic, notebooks and stationery. We source the products locally from Jordanian sellers, and put everything together in the bags at the MECI office in Amman to make sure there are no mistakes. Schools are provided with art material and stationery needed for the classroom.
We print books for three grades – 1, 2 and 3. These books have been developed by our staff, keeping in mind that these children have either never been to school or, have been out of school for a long time. For instance, our math book has exercises to teach students counting, shapes, calculations and fractions. The English and Arabic books teach the alphabet and short words.
After 3 days of putting the bags together we finally had all we needed - 1350 bags for all our students.
At every school, we hire one principal, and 5 teachers – one for Arabic, one for Math and one for English, one for life skills and art and one for PE and sports. We also hire one Syrian counsellor who helps with reaching out to Syrian families to enroll their children in school. Year-round the counsellors follow- up with families, and encourage students to continue attending school.
In this photo, Kareem, one of our staff, trains teachers at Jamelh Bou Azza School in Irbid.
We develop our training material internally, which consists of an orientation about MECI, the school program, and our code of conduct. We also familiarize teachers with the curriculum, and guide them on how they should plan for the week. A mandatory child protection training is also a part of our teacher orientation.
The governorate of Irbid is about 95 kilometers from Amman. A truck loaded with bags made its way to 6 schools on the dusty road from Amman to Irbid.
In this photo, MECI staff unloads cartons of bags at the Shajarat Al Durr School in Ramtha.
After the students registered with the program, MECI chose schools that were closest to the students. Still, MECI also provides transportation for students who need it. This is an important part of the program because guardians of many of the children lack the resources to make the daily trip from their houses to the school. To make sure the students are safe, our counsellors accompany the students in the bus.
In the photo on the right, students get off a MECI bus at Mecca Al Mukarama School in Ramtha.
Sabreen, one of our staff, with the principal of Dogarah School. She explains how MECI works, the registration process at the school, how records of the students are to be maintained, and the importance of teaching and evaluating the progress of these students.
The program will run for 9 months from July to March. In March, students will be tested to map their progress. MECI had administered a placement test before the children were enrolled, and comparing the results in the last month will make it possible to review the effectiveness of the program. Last year, MECI had programs in 6 schools, with great results. On average, grades for students who took both the placement test and the final exam in 3 of our schools that were implemented with UNICEF, increased from 56% to 82%.