The Education program offers non-formal education and a variety of activities to community members of all ages living in Ritsona and Inofyta camp. The purpose and aim of the different divisions within the program is to restore a sense of normality to people’s lives while countervailing fear, anxiety and frustration. In a setting where the individual is often forgotten and personal dreams and goals are put on hold, we aim to nurture ambitions, talents and skills of all who wish to participate in meaningful and stimulating classes and activities.
The pre-school serves the 3-5 year old population where they have both playtime activities and also basic learning activities. The daily schedule at the pre-school is broken down into 15-minute intervals where the children learn for 15 minutes and then play for 15 minutes. The space has been divided into four corners. Each corner is dedicated to either a learning or playtime activity and the children rotate from space to space. This allows for the children to learn basic discipline and time management, which better prepares them once they are 6 years old and go into formal education in Greek school.
The "CreaTeens" division gives the often-overlooked youth their own personal space which they themselves have been part of creating. It is a safe and creative space where the focus is on mentoring and encouraging them to express themselves through various arts and crafts projects and language classes, to develop trust and a sense of self-value. We stand next to them and cheer for their success, we commiserate their losses and we expect them to take responsibility for their actions. It is a hard balance to meet but the program and volunteers are engineered in such a way that it aims to demonstrate that they can fly when they are ready to.
The adult education classes have continued its focus on developing language skills. The afternoon classes of English, Swedish and German classes have continued and in the New Year we are planning on adding Arabic and English alphabet lessons to assist the residents who can speak English but not read and write it. We also have classes for females only and in 2017 we are hoping to develop an online up skilling curriculum for the adult population to prepare them for their next steps and future employment potential.
Having no legal status massively minimizes access to university education. There is now an online university called KIRON established in Europe, which is specifically for refugee students and the first two years of learning occur online. We plan to support these students by providing the technology to continue their education and with the space for quiet and peaceful study in camp. We have thus far assisted 12 students in getting their application and three have been successful. The aim is to reach more teenagers and adults in additional camps to access both high school and university classes online.
SUMMER CAMP With school finished for the summer, we've set up a Summer Camp to ensure every child between 6-15 in Oinofyta camp have fun, play and are happy over their summer holidays. We will be running daily recreational and psycho-social activities with the support of an extended group of volunteers over the summer.
LIBRARY When some of the Ritsona residents expressed the desire to create a library, we jumped to help! Together with support from Lighthouse Relief, we sourced a container then began the hard labour of metal-grinding, painting, sanding, scrubbing to get it up and ready. It was launched in November 2016 with a system in place so that residents manage themselves with minimal support from us. The books are donations from all over the world, in multiple languages (principally Arabic and English) and for all ages. Now managed entirely by the resident community, it is a great source of entertainment for everyone and a calm place to take some time out.
MOVIE NIGHTS Once a week in Ritsona and Inofyta we host a movie night for both the children and the adults. The movies are ideally in Arabic or Farsi. The movie nights are very popular and popcorn is provided to all.