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"Pen instead of a sword": education to overcome hardships

Luay and his family fled the war in Syria. He says that he "will never return to Syria. There are planes there.” He hates the sounds of planes. Life has forced him to dream far away from his home and roots.

After being forced to flee Aleppo, Luay is now in in the southern Turkish city of Kilis, continuing his education with the support of the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education Programme. “Through education, you can transfer knowledge from one generation to the other,” says Luay’s father as he comes to the community centre to pick him up. “Without knowledge, one generation will disappear. This is the last thing we want. Although sometimes conditions force education as secondary, we must send children to school.”

Many families are not able to send their children to school because of the economic hardships they face. The Conditional Cash for Education (CCTE) Programme provides support to those families who do not have regular income and social security with the aim to encourage enrolment and improve school attendance of children.

Improve school attendance by UNICEF

The Conditional Cash for Education (CCTE) Programme provides support to those families who do not have regular income and social security with the aim to encourage enrolment and improve school attendance of children. © UNICEF/Turkey/2017/Rich

The programme is a national social protection programme which has been implemented by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies since 2003. In early 2017 it was extended to Syrian and other refugee families. It is implemented through a close partnership between the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, the Ministry of National Education, the Turkish Red Crescent and UNICEF. The extension of the programme has been made possible by the support of the European Union and is also supported by the Governments of Norway and the United States of America.

Through such support, Luay will be able to overcome problems he faces in order to go to school. Additionally, thanks to the programme, Luay’s family received a visit from the Turkish Red Crescent outreach teams who provided information about the Programme and encouraged Luay to regularly attend school.

While talking about Luay’s admiration for Zorro, his father points out that Luay is a different kind of Zorro, his motto being “pen instead of a sword.” Luay is hopeful and hardworking. The support he gets is changing his life. Luay is only eight years old but his experiences have made him a young hero. A young Zorro.

Luay, young zorro by Unicef Turkey
Luay is only 8 years old but his experiences have made him a young hero. A young Zorro. © UNICEF/Turkey/2017/Rich

Just like Zorro, Luay will fight for truth and justice. The look on his face shows that nothing is impossible in this life. When he grows up, he wants to become a Turkish language teacher and teach children. He thinks that the “best part of teaching is learning new things along the way.” He loves school and the child-friendly space where he spends most of his time after school. He also loves his grandmother whom he had to leave behind in Syria. Luay is hopeful they will meet again soon.

By UNICEF Turkey @unicefturk

Last updated
09/04/2018