Maali serves as a link between Syrian students, teachers and parents in order to help make the most of education in an ideal environment.
Maali allots one extra hour each morning to walk to one of North Lebanon’s public schools where she works as volunteer. The Education Community Liaison (ECL) at Save the Children expects one thing in return for her services.
“I want children to get a better education for the future. I see how they have been deprived without an education. They are in need of support.’’
Through coordination with teachers and supervisors, Maali has seen evidence of violence and bullying rates falling noticeably at her school. She says teachers have adapted fresh methods that made the teaching environment more productive.
Another essential target for volunteers like Maali is to reduce the risk of drop-outs among Syrian students who find it difficult to cope with a demanding Lebanese curriculum.
“When children reported a problem to me, I made sure I not only communicated it to their teacher, but also worked on a solution.
Teachers did the same. I worked with one of the teachers on rewarding students who showed exceptional talent in French, which was an incentive for everyone to work harder.’’
Maali’s ideas inspired new activities that the children enjoyed. Initiatives she implemented were praised as a great success that should be replicated in the future.
“On Mother’s Day, I suggested organising a play for Syrian and Lebanese children. I wrote the text and songs to be performed by the students. It was a wonderful celebration that everyone enjoyed.’’
Maali suggests that the many benefits of having ECLs for Syrian children in public schools during afternoon sessions, needs to be capitalised on and include morning sessions too.
“Children feel more confident having us around and teachers get the support they need. It is a positive initiative for everyone involved and we should see more of it.’’
*Name changed for protection purposes.
WHO IS MAALI
Maali has had lengthy experience teaching in Syria, where she advocated for arts as an essential component in active learning. In Lebanon, she volunteered with Save the Children as an Education Community Liaison (ECL) as part of a new initiative at public schools, supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Authorised by the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education and implemented by Save the Children’s Education Department, the project has deployed 28 volunteer ECLs in afternoon classes attended by Syrian children at public schools in North Lebanon. The volunteers’ main mission is to monitor students and teachers, and report back to the Headmaster. The ultimate goal is to reduce drop-out rates and eliminate violence as a form of punishment.