Education and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

The Syrian Refugee Crisis is a headline that has been dominating our televisions, newspapers and conversations since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in March 2011. The human impact has been colossal with 6.8 million people in Syria requiring humanitarian aid.

It has increasingly become a highly complex and sensitive issue that can prove difficult for children to understand and process. Understandably, children require a certain amount of protection from the harsh realities civil war entails, however it may be useful for parents or anyone working with children to be aware of the tools available to them to help explain to children the crisis at hand.

A key problem we face when educating children on world issues is that it is often difficult to know exactly how much to share with children whilst remaining honest and factual. Unicef has devised a comprehensive advice pack , which addresses ‘How to talk with children in the aftermath of violence’. It is a helpful resource for both parents and teachers in order to strike the right balance between honesty and sensitivity. It’s suitable for children of any age; however, maturity and sensitivity of the child should also be considered when deciding on how much to share. There are more suggested resources on their webpage.

Oxfam are another organisation that offers an extensive guide on how to support young people when talking through the issues of civil war and refuge. They have also devised a fantastic series of powerpoint presentations and lesson plans available for educators to use in their own classroom. All of which can be found here. Also featured on the website is a guide for young people who want to take action. This could be extremely useful to present to anyone who feels strongly about the issue and who wants to be involved.

Another brilliant website to offer support for teaching children about the crisis is CAFOD, which would be particularly suited to any catholic schools or churches due to the religious orientation of the organisation. However, the power points provide an unbiased outlook on the issue that could easily be adapted for any class. Find the resources on their website here.

For very small children, a book with illustrations can generally be the most useful resource. The Guardian’s Sally Peck recommends the graphic novel, Azzi in between, and explains how she used it to help her four-year-old daughter to understand what she was overhearing in the media. Find the complete article online here, or find the book available to buy here.

I do hope that this article has helped anyone struggling with how to educate children about the refugee crisis and offered the confidence for educators to inspire and facilitate positive change.