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Some context is provided in Blackboard for those unfamiliar with the Syrian crisis.

Discussion prompt:
Watch "Aya's Story" and exploring the information on the site below - "Challenge of Education " section on the UN Refugee Agency's site entitled "The Future of Syria."
The webpage touches on the following aspects of armed conflict and education

• Dropping out
• Treatment in school
• Can’t cover costs
• Schools are full
• Transportation and distance
• Missed too much school
• Curriculum and language
• Children with disabilities
• Discrimination, bullying, and violence
• Mixed priorities

ORIGINAL POST: Find an additional video source (under 10 minutes) about the impact of the Syrian crisis on education (K-12 or higher education), post the link for your colleagues to see, and provide 1) a particular educational challenge reflected in your video and 2) a specific educational opportunity, if any, presented in your video.

RESPONSE POSTS: Watch at least two colleagues video posts and post at least two comments on additional challenges or opportunities.

THIS DISCUSSION BOARD IS CLOSED. Thanks, all, for some great discussion. I appreciate your discussion about the K-12/Higher Education connection and also the generational impact of the situation in Syria (and elsewhere in the world).

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While this video is brief I realized very quickly how political conflict can become a generational issue that impacts how children grow into leaders and are limited due to lack of education. UNICEF is a global giving group that most of us would expect to encourage countries to assist in providing some aide to the children that are only bystanders to the Syrian war. If you choose to flee Syria you are now potentially saving the lives of your family but also limiting your children's ability to have an education and potentially provide a better life for their future off spring. The video promotes an outcry for assistance and update on the amount of children who are not receiving an adequate in the tent cities that most refugees are not living in. The photos show how some of the children are in makeshift classrooms that are designed to address the basic needs of a variety of ages. Just the minimal as mentioned in the video is not going to provide the longterm assistance that education can provide to Syrians if there is to be an end to the war that they are continuing to face. There is a challenge in the tent city classrooms based on the lack of age targeted lessons and lack of resources. In this video there is actually an opportunity for some learning where that is not the case for all refugee camps. If they can maintain while attempting to grow this structure potentially Syrian refugees have a change to help the future leaders of their country.

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The particular educational challenge reflected in the video is best summarized by the speaker. At five minutes and 55 seconds (5:55) in the video, the speaker says the following:

“UNESCO Beirut gives high value to formal education as it is a key in making lifelong learning a reality. It makes visible and gives value to the hidden competences that refugee students have obtained through various means and in different phases of their lives. Valuing and recognizing these learning outcomes may significantly improve the refugee self-esteem and well-being, and motivate them to further learning and strengthen their chances in the labor markets.”

I found the use of the phrase “learning outcomes” quite interesting. This is the buzzword in American educational systems (K-12 and university).

Yet for these Syrians, there are major obstacles for any refugee…major obstacles to demonstrating mastery of a learning outcome. They must assimilate into the Lebanese curriculum. They must do this while learning a new language.

Watch for this as you watch the video—every student is engaged, every student sits near the front of the class. Look for the close proximity between desks and the teacher. This is proof that Syrian students in Lebanon are fully invested in their education. This is not a surprise, but it is a striking difference between American students in K-12 and university systems (in my line of work, I consult with faculty every week on issues of “student engagement.”) The roots of this in American public and higher ed are multi-factorial (cultural, generational, psychological, etc.). In this video, you can see how an urgency to learn and rebuild communities creates an urgency…something rooted first and foremost in emotion (maybe the amygdala is hyper-activated in these survivors). From the rubble comes urgency and a desire to rise above…

One last note—here in America there are educators/researchers studying the role of emotions in the classroom setting.

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Lebanon's infrastructure is greatly suffering from the Syrian conflict. Over 250,000 Syrian refugees in the country between ages 15-18 do not have access to education. Some of the reasons cited are cost, intimidation and harrassment. There is also fear of arrest since the families are not residents. Many of these children are missing out on learning the skills necessary to reconstruct Syria in the future.

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This video shows the lack of equity that exists among genders in regards to early education. As noted in the video, both genders recognize the need for an education as a priority, but individual scenarios overshadow the priority of obtaining a degree. For young girls, they endure discrimination from males. This fearful behavior is recognized by the families, so the girls' pursuit of education is halted. As many of the young children stated, you're going to make it work to achieve your goal, no matter the obstacles. The positive outlook can motivate one to succeed, especially for young girls who typically do not have a voice within society.

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A challenge presented by this video is, of course, the amount of refugees in need of education. This is probably a constant issue in any discussion of educating Syrian refugees where the strain placed on other educational systems of countries accepting refugees such as Lebanon and Jordan has caused possibly animosity between natives and refugees or reduced educational quality due to lacking resources.

One opportunity presented in this video is the idea of incorporating general educational concepts of literacy, basic mathematical ability, and critical/logical thinking skills into technical education. Based on the article provided, it seems many refugees want to work either because they have been out of school too long or because they feel attending school is not useful. I would imagine many of the boys presented in the "Challenge of Education" article may be open to completing technical education programs to become more employable. If the technical education programs could effectively incorporate basic educational principles, like literacy, it may provide the refugees enough skills to help them become gainfully employed.

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I had a hard time finding a way to post this. I hope this is okay.

I was unable to find a lot about higher education, but did find this short video. An organization called Shine which is partially funded by the Turkish government is providing a free vocational education for Syrian youth. The degrees offered are in the areas of computer engineering, English, and community health, all relevant subjects to promote employment in this newly liberated area of Syria.

One of the founders explained that the main reason for providing this type of educational program, that is focused on providing a quick education for immediate job placement, is so that youth will not become radicals but instead get a job, get married and live a civilian life. Because the program is free there are financial obstacles, however the biggest obstacle is convincing youth, who have lost all hope, of the benefits of an education.

I think it would be difficult to go from a mindset of survival to one of hope. We have been asked to address an obstacle and opportunity to education presented in our video. I watched several video of children attending school programs for the first time in years. They were smiling, they were engaged, and looked happy to be with peers, ultimately they still seemed hopeful and innocent. The adults in the videos I watched seemed obviously more affected by their surrounding and experiences. I think lack of hope is a huge obstacle, while providing an opportunity for employment through free "training" in a reasonable amount of time seems the most likely way to address the immediate needs of both the community and the individual.
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