Finnish children in Syrian refugee camp given access to distance learning facilities

Though participating in the education programme is voluntary, interest has been strong. The long-term aim is to help integration into Finnish society. [shutterstock/Hananecko_studio]

Finnish children in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria can now take part in distance-learning in Finnish through their mothers’ telephones.

Though participating in the education programme is voluntary, interest has been significant. The long-term aim is to help the children integrate into Finnish society.

Since May of last year, some 23 Finnish children in al-Hol camp have received tutoring in writing, reading, mathematics, English language, and environmental studies. The curriculum has also included the basics of the Finnish culture, school, society and nature. Exercises and homework were sent on weekday mornings at 9 pm using a Whatsapp application.

According to the Consitution, Finnish authorities must safeguard fundamental rights such as the education of Finnish children where it is possible.

The operation was initiated by the foreign ministry and has been funded by the education military. The project was implemented by the Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation (KVS).

The practice has been organised behind the backs of the Kurdish authorities and has been kept secret both in Finland and Syria. The Kurdish authorities in the region are reluctant to allow outside contacts and are reportedly jamming some IT connections.

But the practice has been worth the while, Special Envoy of the Foreign Ministry, Jussi Tanner, told the KVS Foundation website in an interview.

“Even minor daily contact with a Finnish school builds an indispensable routine in a camp environment, a connection with Finnish society and a perspective on the future. The long-term commitment of the families to school attendance indicates that integration into Finnish society is possible,” Tanner added.

(Pekka Vänttinen |

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