This is Dana. She is 12 years old and lives in the Middle East. Because of the war in her country, Dana was forced to flee with her parents and brother. For a long time they moved from place to place – until they found safety in a refugee camp in a neighbouring country.
Before the war, Dana loved going to school and got good grades. But now she's afraid that she'll never be able to go to school again. And then what? What will happen to her dreams if she can't go to school anymore?
This is where the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – the SDC – comes in. Thanks to the SDC, Dana can participate in a special educational programme at the refugee camp. The one-year programme helps Dana catch up on the schooling she missed when her family was displaced. She can also learn the language and get familiar with the customs of the country she now lives in. This will help Dana integrate when she joins a local school later on.
She likes the lessons. On top of reading and maths, the children have time to sing, draw, play football, and even do computer exercises. Going to school every day helps Dana forget the terrible things she experienced. She doesn't have as many nightmares anymore and is almost as happy as she used to be before the war.
The SDC focuses on ensuring that every child can exercise their right to education. Every child should have the same opportunities – including girls and boys from vulnerable families, ethnic minorities and nomadic groups, or refugees like Dana. The SDC also supports training for teachers and works together with school authorities. This way, it ensures that what children learn is relevant to their lives and futures. SDC projects are inspired by the Swiss school system: multilingualism, decentralised structures and a system that allows different ways for pupils to bridge gaps or catch up on missed schooling.
But let's get back to Dana. She has successfully completed the catch-up programme at the refugee camp. Because of her excellent grades, Dana was able to go to a nearby local school. She has learned to speak the village dialect and has made a new best friend, Aisha. Dana is now 15 years old. She has just received her school-leaving certificate. She's ready to take the next step into adulthood and start a vocational training course.
Dana's story shows that: education isn't just a launch pad for a child's future, it's also key to integrating in the local society and maintaining social cohesion. The SDC is certain that quality basic education is a prerequisite for a person to have job opportunities and prospects in life. And for migrant and refugee children like Dana, it also means protection, hope and the chance for a better future.
SDC – Switzerland taking action.