I love school now even more than before

I love school now even more than before

A return to education in West Mosul.

MARWA, 13 years old student
“We lived a boring but stressful life; we were frightened.”

My name is Marwa and I live in West Mosul. I have a routine lifestyle. Every morning I wake up at 7am, eat my breakfast and go to school. I have classes until 12.30pm. Then, I go back home to have lunch.

After lunch, I go back to school again (Marwa attends catch-up classes and recreation activities in the afternoon organized by People in Need and UNESCO which administrates EU funded project in Iraq). I return home at 4.30pm, have a rest, do my homework and help my sister with hers as well. I also watch Turkish TV series and help my mum in the kitchen.

The war changed our lifestyle. We stayed at home most of the time and I didn’t go to school. We forgot many things and were far behind the schooling program. We lived a boring but stressful life; we were frightened. We had to wear a hijab even inside the house.

ISIL closed my school and opened a special one. All their books were about the war and weapons. In a math book, for example, were pictures of bullets, guns and bombs. The teachers wore strange clothes and were carrying weapons. I never wanted to go to school. I was afraid of teachers and books. I went there for one week, but after that my parents didn’t let me continue.

When the war ended, I went back to the government school. I was so happy to meet my friends and teachers again. We hadn’t seen one another for more than three years; I missed them so much. Now, we go to school and catch-up classes together and help each other. At the beginning, it was difficult for most of the students to be back in school. There were so many students and not enough school materials. Thanks to after-school activities and catch-up classes, schooling is getting easier every day. I love school now even more than before. I am also more self-confident now.

I hope to live a normal life. I don’t want the war to start again. I’m afraid of this, so much. I want to be a teacher or humanitarian worker and help children who are affected by war and deprived of education.

We suffered during the war and the situation is still bad. So, I want all the countries in the world to come to our country and help us to rebuild our schools and gardens. I want People in Need and other organizations to do more education activities in our school as well as in other schools in Mosul, because they are very useful.

ALIYA, 45, Marwa’s mum
"They dreamt of being back at school."

I’m Aliya. I’m Marwa’s mum. I have three children: Marwa and her sister (12) are in school, but their brother is out of school because he works with his father. The war impacted our children greatly, especially my daughter Marwa. She was a clever student, but the war stole three years of her schooling. Three years of her future.

The subjects children used to study in ISIL schools were different from the subjects in a normal school — violence, killing, how to use weapon, jihad etc. Therefore, I didn’t let my children attend ISIL school. My daughters used to stay at home all day. Sometimes, they helped me with some daily chores, especially in the kitchen; sometimes they read a children’s book I had bought for them earlier. I noticed that Marwa was depressed and she behaved strangely. They dreamt of being back at school.

Schooling is important. I didn’t graduate from school and I don’t want my children to repeat my mistake. I encourage them to study. The classes organized by your organizations (PIN & UNESCO) help a lot. Both my daughters forgot many important things during the war, but now they are improving thanks to catch-up classes. They also made new friends and now they study together. They both like these classes a lot. They say they feel comfortable and safe. And I notice positive changes in them too.

The biggest challenge for me as a mother now is to be more sensitive with my children. They are teenagers and need special attention. I’m worried they may not forget the war easily. I hope they will finish school and build their own future.

SHAZA, Marwa’s teacher
"For me, as a teacher, it is challenging to deal with so many children affected by war, but I try to do my best and treat them all with kindness."

The war has left a strong negative impact on the children. We notice that families have become very poor; we see children are weak and their clothes are often torn and dirty. We also see that most of the children have become stubborn, hardhearted and indifferent. Their behaviour is violent sometimes and they can beat their friends. Through hard work, awareness, support and monitoring we try to change that.

Marwa is a very clever and quiet student. She has been attending this school for about six months now as well as nonformal education activities. I noticed that during the classes and while playing outside, Marwa gets along with other students well. We see that children who are attending the non-formal educational activities supported by PIN & UNESCO have become more cooperative.

For me, as a teacher, it is challenging to deal with so many children affected by war, but I try to do my best and treat them all with kindness. I hope this project will be extended and teachers continue receiving trainings and workshops on teaching methodologies, psychosocial support and child protection.

Author: Tatiana Gavyuk, People in Need Syria & Iraq Communication/Advocacy Officer