30.05.2019 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

UNESCO Beirut organizes a Training of Trainers for the Second Chance Programme in Syria


Providing education in times of crisis has always been one of UNESCO's greatest challenges and main goals. After the Syria crisis burst out, education was deeply altered and disturbed in the country and in neighboring states, with a large number of children missing out on education.

Against this backdrop, and within the framework of UNESCO’s Syria Country Plan for 2018-2019, UNESCO Beirut is supporting Syria’s Ministry of Education to improve education access and quality for at-risk Syrian children through the development and provision of a Summer Second Chance and Catch-Up Programme at the national level. Developing the capacity of teachers and staff to deliver this special programme is key to ensure quality integrated programming for at-risk basic education learners. Since 2015 a series of training of trainers’ (ToT) workshops have been held at the Central and Governorate levels targeting a critical mass of senior level technical officers, teachers and psychosocial counsellors.

On 23-25 May 2019, UNESCO Beirut organized and hosted a ToT for a group of Syrian trainers who will lead the coordination and the implementation of the Second Chance programme in Syria, and who will be in charge of cascading back their learning by training additional teacher trainers and education staff in Syria throughout 2019. The overall objective is to scale up the Second Chance programme in Syria, taking into consideration the revised educational curriculum. The training, which rested on a highly interactive and participatory approach, was delivered by Dr Reda Hegazi, Director-General of the Ministry of Education in Egypt, and Dr. Abdul Hakim Al Hamad, Assistant to the Minister of Education in Syria. The sessions covered a wide array of topics, including: accelerated learning methodologies, flexible learning strategies and modalities, psychosocial support for children, structuring and condensing learning content, managing multi-grade and crowded classrooms.

Speaking of the value of this training, Ms Asmaa Mustafa, education supervisor in Damascus, said: “This is a high-level training, where all content is very relevant and well-thought of. The sessions are organized in a highly effective way. As an education supervisor, I have a long experience in teaching and training, however this ToT gave me a framework to better organize and deliver my work. The sessions were highly interactive and the trainers extremely skilled. They gave us the opportunity to share our experiences, expertise, know-how, and best practices, and to reflect together on the best ways to successfully implement the Second Chance Programme in Syria”.

Mr Wael Mohammed, Programme Officer of Catch-Up Programmes in Syria, explained: “This is the fourth year that we implement catch-up programmes in Syria to benefit all children who have been negatively impacted by war. Our Ministry of Education is deeply committed to continue delivering such programmes giving their success and the population’s increased demand for them. One of the main values of this ToT is that it delivers to Syrian trainers UNESCO’s expertise in the field of accelerated and second-chance learning programmes. It also allows for an exchange of experience and knowledge among participants coming from all Syrian governorates. We thank UNESCO for its continuous support to Syria’s Education Ministry in its efforts to ensure access and quality education for all children”.

Dr Rami el Zelli, Director of the Directorate of Basic Education at Syria’s Ministry of Education, re-asserted the importance of implementing second-chance programmes in Syria, and the value of the ToT: “When we first launched the second-chance programmes, we had a hard time attracting people to them, for several reasons: first, because the country is at war and it is difficult and risky for students to move from one area to another; second, because the second-chance programme usually takes place in the summer, and students are used to have a vacation at that time; third, because catch-up programmes are a “new” idea, and it was difficult to familiarize parents with it and make them accept it. However, we are recently witnessing a great increase in the demand for second-chance programmes. This is because of the cumulative success of these programmes over the past few years”. He added: “This idea of organizing a ToT is brilliant, as it guarantees the sustainability of the project. Participants at this ToT will share their knowledge with other teachers, trainers, and education staff back in Syria, thus improving the effectiveness of the programme. What is also noteworthy is that the training content was not theoretical, but very practical and concrete, which makes it directly relevant to our work”.

As to Ms Inas Riyad, pedagogical coordinator at Kayany Foundation in Lebanon, she said: “Through this intensive training workshop, we learnt how to design and prepare a catch-up programme for students who have missed out on their education due to the war, how to organize and manage a multi-grade classroom. This experience was very important and useful for us because at Kayany Foundation we are establishing schools for Syrian refugees with catch-up programmes, and we have limited expertise in terms of designing such programmes and selecting the learning content.

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