Parental Engagement

One of the things we have concentrated on this week is once again trying to recruit some of the Kurdish speaking parents to volunteer and support the school. We teach largely in English, because that was the second language which many of the children were learning in Syria, Iraq and Iran. With the youngest Kurdish speaking children, however, it is important to be able to give detailed explanations in Kurdish. Trying to correct errors in calculations where digits have gone into the wrong columns, when one doesn’t have a language in common is challenging.

This week, we have therefore started working with three Kurdish mothers. We spend time teaching them the lesson material and then they teach it to the youngest children. We have been very heartened by initial outcomes, but we know that we need to recruit quite a few more parents in order to make this successful and sustainable. Across the camp as a whole, there is a very significant movement of people coming and going. Often we have just got to know a parent or children and they have left again. So if we are to build a core of Kurdish parents who can support the Kurdish speaking children, it is going to have to be a large and flexible enough group to accommodate the considerable movements and changes in the population who are in the camp at any one time.

In the previous camp, our attempts to recruit parents was unsuccessful because survival in the camp was such a time consuming and desperate process, that people did not have time to commit to voluntary activities. We are hoping that with the much improved circumstances in the new camp, that we can bring about a very different outcome.

As we are in the middle of the Easter holidays we have had a considerable number of UK teachers visit us. This week we had another 25 visitors. Some visited for one day and some stayed for the whole week, helping us with teaching and engaging students. We are immensely grateful to volunteers as the children are all at very different points in their education. This means that we often have to teach them 1:1 or in very small groups and this is only possible when we have volunteers to support us.

Overall our large tent has worked very well this week, despite a few critical leaks. At the end of the week we were also touched to be given some gardening boxes so that the children could learn about flowers and germination. Many of the children were previously city dwellers in Kirkuk, Mosul, Erbil, (etc). in Northern Iraq so learning about nature and natural processes has proved particularly fascinating to them.

We were saddened this week to hear of the tragic death of a refugee attempting to stow away underneath a lorry. We have also been worried by the disappearance of a number of students who we have worked with for quite a while. We rarely know where students go to. The ‘rumour’ is that they are smuggled into England, but one never knows the reality or truth of the matter. During March we noticed that roughly 5% of the children leave or go missing from week to week. We are now working with UNICEF and taking informal advice from Save the Children, to explore what can be done to ensure that missing children are not being trafficked into slavery, or worse.

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