TVET Graduation Day: Engaging and Celebrating Youth in Syria
In late May 2017, hundreds of people around Idleb countryside gathered to celebrate the graduation of more than 250 Syrian students from Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) centres in northern Syria.
One year ago, People in Need, with generous support from the European Union, established two TVET centres in Idleb governorate: one for young women and one for young men. The need for such practical education centres cannot be underestimated. In Syria today, female and male youth are among the most vulnerable demographics affected by the war. The Syrian education system has been dealt an enormous blow and there is little funding for such practical learning centres today, particularly in Idleb, where communities have witnessed the closure of a number of industrial and commercial activities and institutions. The collapse of the economy and the lack of employment opportunities further contribute to an overall increase in women’s vulnerability within the country, and to a heightened risk of male youth becoming involved in armed groups.
These two centres seek to engage and upskill talented young men and women, decrease the risk of youth recruitment and generate a larger pool of skilled youth who can productively contribute to their local communities in the years to come. To get these centres up and running, People in Need provided teaching and learning materials to staff and students; conducted rehabilitation and safety works to the centres; and pledged to cover the basic operational costs and material needs of the centres for the entire year.
At the two centres, young women received teaching and training in courses such as sewing, embroidery and wool-work, whilst young men received training in courses including metalwork, carpentry, electrical engineering and mechanics.
To support the students in their pursuit of practical life skills, People in Need provided them with practical, financial support throughout their studies to ensure that students were not placed under any financial burden at attend their courses. Each student received monthly food vouchers worth approximately 40$ in addition to 20$ to cover transportation costs. Teachers were also supported through this project and received monthly financial incentives as well as trainings in areas such as psychosocial support. Such psychosocial support training for teachers is crucial in today’s Syria, where millions of young people can barely remember a life without war.
To honour the students’ achievement on their graduation day, representatives of Idleb’s Education directorate and local community leaders attended the ceremonies alongside parents, People in Need staff and press. People in Need awarded high achieving graduates and high-performing teachers with gifts and each student received a certificate acknowledging either their successful graduation or their completed attendance. At the ceremonies, exhibitions of the students’ work were displayed around the two centres. At the centre for young women, the corridors were lit up with their colourful creations; women’s dresses, shawls, children’s clothes and more lined walls and tables around the centre. At the centre for young men, technical drawings, shelves, cupboards and more were on display for all to see.
One of the most outstanding students of the mechanics department, Mohammad, also gave a short presentation explaining the intricacies of an engine using a model of a real car engine.
Abdullah Sawas, a 16 year old carpentry student, describes his experience at the centre and how he has been able to support himself and his family, as a result. “Before the school opened, I used to work in a small sweets workshop in order to help my family financially; my father is too old to work and does not have a job, though he owns a small grocery. He really encouraged me to join the school in order to learn a proper profession. He advised me to learn carpentry and I took his advice. I studied hard and was able to master the basic principles of woodwork,” says Abdullah Sawas. “Throughout the training, I received food vouchers so both my parents and I could bring home food for the family. I also received money for transportation and a bag to use at school. My family and I were so happy with this support. At school, I made many new friends and I was able to learn a profession without having to go to someone’s workshop and labour for long hours, earning nothing. My father said it is still a bit early for me to start my own workshop but he is going to help me start a small one, once I master the profession. Thank God I followed my father’s advice and learned carpentry; the course was so enjoyable,” he adds.
Over the coming months, People in Need will support the centres’ graduates in developing their business skills and learning how to put their talents to use professionally. Graduates will receive business-related training in leadership, accounting, and management as well as access to further support through Micro Grants. High achieving students who complete the business-focussed training and submit a successful business plan will be eligible to receive a grant to support them in launching a micro-business. Whilst the primary focus of this initiative is to give young people access to opportunities to acquire skills and pursue professions, continuing to tackle issues related psychosocial wellbeing remains a priority and People in Need will continue to run PSS classes and summer support classes for students over the summer months.