If one word could describe young Mariam Konan Rasheed, it would be resourceful. Stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 33-year-old Jordanian came up with the most entertaining way to educate her younger peers: online educational videos.
Prior to the pandemic, the graduate from the EU-funded EDU-SYRIA II scholarship had been volunteering with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in the field of nursery. “I cared for children between 2 and 5 years old from Zarqa Governorate by organising a lot of different interactive activities that also served to educate them,” Mariam explains, noting that it helped her develop an understanding of the children’s needs according to their age. “Because of the pandemic though, I was not able to go to work anymore so I thought about a way to continue working despite the lockdown.”
She looked around her house and gathered numerous everyday life objects and material, including rope, pins, needles and rubber balls, among others. “Of course, it was very challenging, because I could not go out to buy the material I needed.” But this did not stop her ingenious mind. She used her smartphone to record the videos, and shared them on YouTube and WhatsApp groups with beneficiaries of the LWF.
No longer than one-minute-long, the videos are tailored to the young children’s attention span, with a playful background music to retain their interest. “I wanted to continue raising children’s awareness on topics I care about, while helping them learn new things, such as geometric shapes, visual memory, etc.” Designed to different age categories, the activities also reach out to children with behavioural issues through cognitive improvement games.
The videos came as a welcome distraction at a time when no movement was allowed around the Kingdom, and still continue to yield success outreach on social media. Mariam benefited from the EDU Syria II scholarship funded by the European Union under the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (EUTF Syria), the EU Madad Fund.
EDU-SYRIA is a host of projects that chronologically extended over the last five years and still going, 2015 and further. The projects are EU funded via MADAD in response to the Syrian crises. Hence, the primary beneficiaries are Syrian refugee and underprivileged Jordanian youths. The ultimate objective of the projects is to improve the livelihood of those beneficiaries by providing them with higher education opportunities through a cluster of scholarships that are granted every cohort of high school graduate since 2015.
EDU-SYRIA I was launched in late 2015 where a fund of 4 million Euros supported a total of 390 higher education accredited degree, master’s, bachelor’s, and vocational programs. Another EUTF grant was bequeathed, 11 million Euros, inaugurating EDU-SYRIA II, the second wave of the project, October 2016. The project was the largest in Jordan in terms of the number of the higher education degree scholarships that was awarded, specifically, 1000. The EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis program presented a smaller endowment of 2.6 million Euros in January 2019 allowing for additional 200 higher education degree scholarships. EDU-SYRIA III was launched in January 2020 with a fund of 15 million Euros. The components/actions of the last wave were more diversified in nature and design where some aiming to pick up the young adults who dropped out or leaked out of school. The direct total of beneficiaries is 2245 Syrian refugees and underprivileged Jordanians.
EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis
Since its establishment in December 2014, a significant share of the EU’s non-humanitarian aid for Syria’s neighbouring countries is provided through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the EU ‘Madad’ Fund. The Trust Fund brings a more coherent and integrated EU aid response to the crisis and primarily addresses economic, educational, protection, social, and health needs of refugees from Syria in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, and supports overstretched local communities and their administrations.