Pencils, Paper, and Peace: Engaging Kids in their Education
At TYO, one of our main goals is supporting a child’s education- whether that’s improving their academic achievements or preparing children with the knowledge to face challenges or difficulties in the future. One of the many ways we do this is by helping kids with their homework and school exams by allocating time each day in our Core Program to go over homework, and review school lessons.
We know this is very important for countless reasons- but recently, this was reinforced by the release of UNESCO and Save the Children's report on education in conflict-affected countries. Launched last week, it describes the grave impact that conflict can have on school systems and children's learning, and specifically talks about risks facing Palestinian children. The report further detailed the consequences of conflict that impact kids even when their school isn't right in harm's way: a lack of updated learning materials, a lack of teachers trained in effective teaching methods, and overcrowded classrooms. As the report notes, these risks can often force children to feel uninterested in learning, or lead them to dropout.
Because of reasons like this, TYO seeks to make education exciting for children, and encourage kids to do their best in school. In the first weeks of my Core Program class this session, it was not easy at all to have children bring their school bags and books to TYO for homework help- most kids were very uninterested because they felt school wasn't interesting and teaching methods were boring. But kids soon learned TYO’s approach to learning is much different than many of the schools they children attend- each child has the chance to share their opinion, ask questions, and feel safe to express if they don’t understand a certain concept. In my classroom, children were divided into small groups that had a specific volunteer, which gave them more personal attention and encouraged teamwork, as well. We also incorporated games and fun competitions with small prizes to get kids excited about school work and learning. These simple techniques were incredibly useful- by the session’s end, children were talking about their dreams and ambitions- and most importantly, how they will achieve their ambitions through education.
As a teacher, I know that education for most of our kids living in difficult areas- like refugee camps- is the only way they can improve themselves, and make their situations better. Through education and increased participation in their schools, kids have the ability to change their community, and become role models- which leads to stronger, more peaceful societies.
Mohammed Abulkibash is a Core Program teacher at TYO. Above, he writes about a recent report on ways that learning can be affected by conflict- and how he works to counter those impacts in his Core Program classroom.