Teachers from other schools are encouraged to follow the same model, building on Najaa’s successful example and the Hamdaniyah Department of Education’s support.
“Najlaa’s model is 100 per cent effective. Students sit in classes doing the same thing every day; seeing the same white board, pens, notebooks, and desks becomes boring. When you set up a room that facilitates fun, educational activities and provides psychosocial support, children will not just enjoy the activities, but mentally relax. We fully support this model,” said Nibras Khaddo Shaba, Teaching Coordinator at Hamdaniyah Department of Education.
“IOM’s training arts therapy sesisons were effective and fruitful in improving the relationships between the students and teachers and between students from different groups. We were able to organize a big arts and sports exhibition this year as a result of improvement in the students’ psychosocial and mental states,” he said.
Najlaa also recalls how her school held its first graduation ceremony last year since people began returning to Hamdaniyah, a sure sign that the schools’ social cohesion activities were having a positive impact.
“It was the most wonderful event. Students wore Qarqoshi dresses, Kurdish and Arabic costumes, and traditional dresses from the Kakayi, Shabaki, and other groups. During the ceremony two students – one Christian and one Muslim – exchanged costumes as a show of love and acceptance. This was very heart warming.”
With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), IOM provides support to social cohesion efforts in 12 schools in Hamdaniyah. One particularly popular activity are the weekly art therapy sessions that strive to prevent segregation and restore trust between communities in the post-ISIL era.