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Building a future for Syria’s refugees

23 January 2018

Education Development Trust has been working to support Syria’s refugees in both Jordan and now Lebanon.

In Jordan, we have been working to train and upskill English language teachers working with Syrian refugees within public schools, in partnership with the Queen Rania Teacher Academy (QRTA), a Jordanian education non-profit organisation with a focus on improving teaching and learning through pre-service and in-service teacher development. Following a successful pilot last year, the programme is being rolled out to reach 10 new supervisors and 200 new teachers – as well as continuing to work with the pilot cohort of 10 supervisors and 131 teachers.

Project manager Lina Aghajanian explains: ‘We have evaluated the pilot and refined and developed the Improving English Skills programme further for the rollout. Like last year, supervisors will train teachers in the approaches and methodology of teaching English as a foreign language. However, based on the lessons learned from the pilot, we have increased the duration to a full academic year, and will integrate an evidence-based approach to the supervision of teachers. Drawing on lessons learned from medicine and healthcare, this will involve the supervisors “diagnosing” teachers’ needs through lesson observations, selecting appropriate pedagogical approaches based on research evidence, coaching teachers to support implementation of the chosen approach and evaluating the implemented approach through lesson observation.’

Furthermore, Education Development Trust and QRTA’s work with supervisors includes specific tasks to create portfolios and building teacher learning communities to ensure sustainability of the project. Each participating school is given a set of 80 books in different genres and levels to encourage and support reading activities at the schools.

The non-formal education solution

We have also extended our work to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon in partnership with NGO Jusoor. While the Lebanese government has made policy changes and established second shifts in the public schools to accommodate refugee students, the Lebanese education system is only meant to accommodate 300,000 students: other solutions are being sought to meet the needs of a growing population. Non-state actors have played a large role in the provision of education for refugees in Lebanon and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been instrumental in delivering non-formal education – a transitional step before children can transfer to the formal education system. Jusoor employs Syrian refugee teachers and school leaders to provide schooling to thousands of refugee children at three educational centres and we are supporting Jusoor in dealing with the critical challenge of teaching Syrian refugee children in Lebanon through the medium of English. We are doing this through delivering language courses for Jusoor’s teachers, through coaching and by building Jusoor’s capacity to facilitate effective teacher learning communities, ensuring that teachers continue to learn and develop professionally even beyond the lifetime of the project.

Both programmes are funded by the ring-fenced funds from Education Development Trust’s acquisition of the Alexandria Schools Trust (AST) whose remit is to improve English language teaching in the Middle East.

Evidence-informed practice

Head of Research at Education Development Trust, Anna Riggall, adds: ‘The scale of what is happening means that these problems aren’t going to go away overnight and it is really important to us that we get this right. We are working on a research project focused on the experiences of Syrian refugee teachers in Lebanon to ensure that our methodology is evidence informed. The research, together with our programmes in Lebanon and Jordan, will help us to expand our work relating to improving the quality of education delivered to refugees in the Middle East in future years.’

‘Our work has an immediate and life-changing impact on these children and we are immensely proud of what we have achieved with our partners in both Jordan and Lebanon,’ concludes Patrick Brazier, Chief Executive at Education Development Trust.