Reem, 15, is from Deir EZ-Zur and is currently living in the governorate of Rural Damascus. 
Reem and her family were forced to flee their home in Deir Ez-Zur and, as a result, has been out of school for five years. 
She enrolled in NRC's “Education Pathway – Transition” programme and after just two months, she was back at school once again.

Photo:  Tareq Mnadili/NRC
Syria

What it means to go to school

As children around the world began a new academic year, Reem, 15, and Yasmine, 14, returned to school after years of missing out. Here, they reflect on what it means to them to be able to rejoin their friends at long last.

“I used to feel very jealous, seeing my friends go to school when I couldn’t. There was no school for me to go to. Back then it was my dream to be one of them, on my way to school,” says Reem.

“I like school because it is very different from home. I like to participate with my friends in all the activities and to play and have fun with them.”

Reem and her family were forced to flee their home in Deir ez-Zur and, as a result, has been out of school for five years. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) works with children like Reem, who have missed out on learning due to war and displacement, to get them back on track with their education.

Our education programme helps out-of-school children aged between six and 14 develop the knowledge, skills and attitude they need to reconnect with formal education and continue their learning journey.

“Come back to school!”

When Reem’s family relocated to Sahnaya, in the governorate of Rural Damascus, she was able to enrol in the programme. After just two months, she was back at school once again.

“Now I dream of becoming a dentist” says Reem, smiling.

“In NRC’s programme I studied Arabic, English, mathematics and science. My favourite subject is Arabic. I like grammar very much and have learned how to read and write very well. We have also focused on life skills such as breathing exercises to ease my anger,” says Reem.

Children who are internally displaced, especially in the case of prolonged crisis, grow up in challenging environments. They are deprived of stability. Even when they settle into a new environment, they have to deal with the pressure of adapting to another community and culture. This experience can cause them serious behavioural issues.

“Come back to school!” Reem advises other children who are out of school. In the future, she envisages giving this advice to children when she is dressed in a white coat, telling them not to eat so much candy and to brush their teeth before going to bed.

Reem (in a light blue hoodie) standing next to Yasmine, some other friends, and two NRC staff members. 

Photo:  Tareq Mnadili/NRC
Read caption Reem (in light blue hoodie) standing next to Yasmine, some other friends, and two NRC staff members. Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC

Dreams of exploring the world

Like Reem, Yasmine also lost the opportunity to go to school when her family fled from Deir ez-Zur to Damascus.

“I only attended the first grade in Deir ez-Zur,” she says. “I was very sad when the school closed, because I had no-one to play or study with. My dad tried to enrol me in another school but he couldn’t because the school was very crowded.”

Yasmine has now enrolled on the same NRC programme as Reem.

“English is my favourite subject! The teacher is very sweet to us. She taught us lessons using activities and songs,” says Yasmine.

Studying English for Yasmine is not only about learning grammar or how to pronounce and write letters. For her, English is a communication tool that allows her to explore the world and understand others.

Yasmine lost the opportunity to go to school when her family fled from Deir Ez-Zur to Damascus.
She enrolled in NRC's “Education Pathway – Transition” programme. 

Photo:  Tareq Mnadili/NRC
Read caption Yasmine in her English class. Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC

“I want to be an English teacher in the future,” she says. “I want to understand what people are saying to me using other languages.”

Education helps children to grow mentally and emotionally and gain whatever they need to pursue their dreams and ambitions.