In Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp in the north of Lebanon, eight-year-old Mounir Wehbe draws a banana tree next to a house with large windows.
He has just finished his after-school studies at the Community Based Rehabilitation Association (CBRA). “I come here every day after school to study with Miss Dania. And now I am better at dictation. I get 10 out of 10.” His teacher Dania Kassem smiles with pride.
Mounir is one of the 530 students in grades 1 to 6 who receive learning support ANERA’s education program. The program, funded by the Reach Out to Asia Foundation (ROTA), also provides capacity building for 35 learning support teachers, which includes active teaching methods, early detection and evaluation techniques of students’ skills and difficulties. The program integrates sports for development and character-building through competitive sports, games and play, which experts say can help students improve on both personal and academic levels.
In the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, socio-economic factors, violence in schools, learning difficulties and a lack of motivation have contributed to poor academic performance. There is also an increased risk of drop-outs at an early age.
With ROTA’s support, ANERA has organized quality learning support and remedial education programs, which are critical to keeping children in school. ANERA is working with seven local organizations in Nahr El Bared and Beddawi camps to provide remedial education programs. We have rehabilitated six classrooms and two sports playgrounds and provided the organizations with facilities, teaching aids and sports kits.
“I benefited a lot from the diagnostic test and the skills evaluation methods we learned with ANERA,” teacher Dania says after completing the training sessions. “This is all new for us.” She says Mounir was one of their first case studies and they developed an individual educational plan for him.
Dania explains that Mounir had trouble with almost all his courses. His mother described him as hyperactive at home but at the center he was lonely and uncommunicative. He recently had lost his father and his mother is struggling to raise him, along with his older sister and two younger brothers. It has added to the family’s financial burden.
Like all the families in Nahr El Bared, they lost their house in the conflict of 2007 and the new one is still not built. The family had been staying with grandparents but recently moved to a new rented apartment. “This has been traumatic for him,” Dania adds.
Dania used active teaching methodologies, games and integration techniques to help Mounir express himself and work with other students. More attention was also focused on coordination between his teachers and his mother at home. “Mounir has turned out to be very talented in reading, writing, and mathematics and all courses that require logical thinking.”
As for Mounir, his favorite class is theater. “I want to be an actor,” announces the eight-year-old. His talent comes through his expressive reading in class, when he seems to actually become the characters of the story.