Tala Sweis is the Director of Madrasati, a Queen Rania Al Abdullah education initiative.
Madrasati, which in Arabic translates to ‘my school,’ aims to better equip schools in Jordan and make them more inspiring learning environments.
In recognition of the immense challenges faced by refugees, OFID dedicated 2016, the year of its fortieth anniversary, to highlighting their plight. Against the background that over half of the world’s refugees are children, OFID together with the Child of Play Initiative, launched the Equal Dreams campaign to address the challenges of being a refugee from a child’s perspective.
In October 2016, artists from Child of Play together with a team from OFID travelled to Amman, Jordan, for a series of creative workshops in the Madrasati-supported Al Arqam school. Like many schools in the country, Al Arqam has accommodated an influx of Syrian children, who now account for almost half of the student body.
Over 140 Jordanian and Syrian children from the Al Arqam school engaged in the Equal Dreams workshops, which involved art, sculpture and acting activities. The workshops focused on the concept of “home.” The children translated their ideas about home and their future into powerful imagery.
The final image, as driven by the children, resulted in their “Dream Home,” a colorful house within a sun, surrounded by animal sculptures and an outdoor play area. The house is now a quiet zone—a safe space where children of all ages can enjoy activities such as music, reading and art.
OFID’s assistance to Madrasati has enhanced the learning environment in eight public schools in five governorates in Jordan.
According to a recent report from Human Rights Watch, there are some 1.3 million Syrians in Jordan today. Since their arrival and specifically that of Syrian children, the country’s education ministry has taken a number of steps to accommodate their educational needs. The Ministry’s initiatives have had a great impact: between 2012 and 2016, the proportion of Syrian refugee children enroled in formal education increased from 12 to 64 percent. Yet, despite the generous efforts of the government, schools continue to struggle with the intake of students.