Covid-19 and the burning of the school’s building
Until March 2020, our school operated with all its power. With the experience of 3 years running, 250 students in 9 classes a day, and 18 dedicated teachers. With over 5,000 children passed through its gates, The International School of Peace was one of the most stable educational frames for refugee children on the island of Lesvos. And then, overnight, everything changed- our school was set on fire, and days after Covid-19 pandemic hit the world and changed our lives completely. The refugee camps on the island went into lockdown, borders were closed, and it seemed as though we will not be able to continue our educational work like we used to.
Activity of the school before the fire
The School’s activity today
Students at the school came from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Congo, Somalia, and Afghanistan.
According to the belief that the exact thing of what our students need is significant educators, who speak the language and know the culture- theschool's teachers were also composed entirely of women and men from the camps, refugees themselves, who chose each and every day to take responsibility and educate the future generation. The classrooms were divided by the native language and age. The students learned English, Math, mother tongue, Greek, and other skills, such as sports, art, life-skills and gardening. Everything was taught by teachers who speak their students’ language.
The school is still located outside the camps in the "One Happy Family" community center. After a short ride on the school bus, students arrived at the school, received a hot meal at the beginning of the day, and one at the end. They learned and played together, and sometimes quarrelled with each other and formed new friendships.
We insist on calling what we do "education of peace " and not "education for peace". "Education for peace" holds future potential for peace, our school is a shared and conscious fulfillment of a community-wide educational space which has an inner code of society in peace in all its fields.
When the fire broke at the ISOP, it was our students and teachers who called "We will rebuild the school!".
There was no difference when Covid-19 broke- our youth groups persisted operating educational activities for the children in the camp.
Today we operate a Youth Leadership Program. Youth from the refugee camp arrive 3 times a week to study English, life skills and community leadership- developing tools and skills to influence their own communities.
Each student is getting all the necessary learning material and a hot meal in the activity days.
The activity is happening in the students’ mother tongue by educators from their community, focusing on conflict resolutions, knowing the “other” and education of peace.
Our school is operating in adjustments to the reality of going in and out of lockdowns and to the rapid changes, without putting the process of the students on hold.
"For me the study in the school is divided into two parts – one part: honor, cooperation and friendship. The second part focuses on the subject we learn -English, Greek, and sports. I like the two parts equally!" (Miriam 14, Syria)
Adult Education Program
Before the fire and the outbreak of Covid-19, there were, at any given moment, over 350 men and women from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Congo and Somalia.
Today the program is running 5 days a week, the students are learning in mother tongue classes, and the teaching is focused on language studies: English and Greek, which are vital for the life of the refugees.
The teachers and coordinators are from the refugee communities.
The Adult Education Program completes our work at the children's school and produces a holistic framework in which there is equal access to language studies for children and adults. The acquisition of a language enables the adult’s return to their role of a guardian and creates opportunities for teachers and parents to function as leaders among their peers and across the society, to narrow the language gap, and to reduce the gap of opportunities.