UNICEF: “Education Our Future”: Six Syrian refugee children tell what it means to be back in school

3(26)The Conditional Cash Transfer for Education Programme changing the lives of Syrian refugee children in Turkey.

“All children should go to school. If I go to school I can also help my friends. There is a big difference between a child who goes to school and one who doesn’t,” says Meymune, 12 years old.
Refugee children who were forced to flee their country not only left behind their home, their friends and family but also had to interrupt their education. Thanks to the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE) programme more than 356,000 refugee children receive financial support to enjoy their right to education in Turkey.
Meymune is now in third grade in Gaziantep, southeast Turkey. She is one of the 6 refugee children whose stories have been showcased in a photography exhibition titled “Education our Future” on 23 July 2018, at the Zaventem International Airport in Brussels, Belgium. This exhibition introduces the viewer to the day to day life of refugee children, from 7 to 17 years old, currently living in Turkey.
The photographs of Hassan, Siva, Esraa, Hamza, Ahmed and Meymune reflect their hopes and ambitions for the future as well as the impact of the CCTE progamme on their lives and ability to go on with their education.
The “Education Our Future” exhibition was inaugurated by Mr. Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner, Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management; Ambassador Faruk Kaymakci, Permanent Delegate of Turkey to the EU in Brussels; Ms. Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director, Europe and Central Asia; Mr. Kerem Kinik, President, Turkish Red Crescent; Mr. Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General International  Federation of Red Crescent and Red Crescent Societies; and Mr. Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative in Turkey.

The CCTE Programme

“One day my father found a blackboard like the one we have at school and he brought it home. I enjoy writing on this board because it makes me feel like a teacher. My siblings become my students and I can teach them the alphabet. I hope to become a real teacher one day” says seven-year-old Esraa who is in grade one.  She and her siblings are currently benefiting from the CCTE programme, which encouraged her family to keep them in school and continue their education.

The CCTE Programme aims to encourage enrolment and improve school attendance of children. The programme also includes an important component that ensures the identification and assessment of the most vulnerable children and their referral to complementary child protection services, as required.The CCTE programme is a national social assistance programme, implemented by the Ministry of Labour, Social Services and Family since 2003 and has been extended to Syrian and other refugee families in early 2017.

The extension of the national CCTE programme to Syrians and other refugees is being implemented through a close partnership between the Ministry of Labour, Social Services and Family, the Ministry of National Education, the Turkish Red Crescent and UNICEF, and has been made possible by the financial support of the European Union, as well as from Norway and the United States.

Ahmed has a chance to choose his future

Ahmed is 17 years of age and is in grade eight. Besides attending school, Ahmed helps his siblings with their homework and works part-time at a textile factory nearby.

Ahmed and his siblings benefit from the CCTE programme which has enabled them to go back to school. Before receiving the support, Ahmed had to work full-time at the factory in order to help support his family.

“We have come from war and it’s difficult to dream about the future,” said Dua, Ahmed’s mother. “But thanks to the CCTE programme, Ahmed’s hours at the factory have decreased and he can now go to school regularly. Ahmed is a young man and this initiative means a lot to him as he can now decide what he wants to do in his future.”

The 30-photo exhibition includes a digital component at the Brussels Airport. The 19 digital screens placed in the departure hall featuring the portraits of these children who benefit from the CCTE programme give travelers the opportunity to “e-meet” them. The exhibition reminds the airport visitors about the resilience of refugee children who have spent many years away from their country, and the critical importance their education represents for the future.  It is estimated that about 2 million people will see these pictures over the next few weeks.

The digital exhibition will be on until 7 August 2018. If you pass by don’t forget to look for the photos of Hassan, Siva, Esraa, Hamza, Ahmed and Meymune…