MyBestStart gets refugee children ready for school

Children on the MyBestStart 2 programme at an early years centre run by Ana Aqra Association in Baalbek, Lebanon (Theirworld/Cara Ghoshal)

Amina Hamoud has one wish for her six-year-old daughter Linda.

“I hope she’ll have a better life than us,” said the mother, a refugee from Syria who fled from the conflict to Lebanon in 2015. “I hope she lives in a stable country where there is no war and achieves her goals in her studies.”

Amina has enrolled Linda in MyBestStart, a Theirworld-supported programme in Lebanon that reaches young refugee children and under-served Lebanese children aged three to six who are unable to access preschool.

The hybrid learning model – two days a week at community-based centres and two days at home – prepares the kindergarten students to be ready for first grade at public school. Lessons, which are aligned with the Lebanese school curriculum, include Arabic, English, mathematics and science.

Watch our new MyBestStart film

MyBestStart 2 is the second phase of a programme that combines interactive video lessons, online and offline instruction on the Tabshoura learning platform, and physical learning materials. It is delivered by Theirworld partner organisations Ana Aqra Association, Lebanese Alternative Learning and SKILD

Early childhood education is crucial for the development of all children – but especially for child refugees, as many of them have suffered significant trauma. In Lebanon the effects of an economic crisis and Covid-19 left 400,000 children without access to school or pre-primary education.

Theirworld’s Act For Early Years campaign is calling for all children to have access to quality early childhood development, including childcare and pre-primary education.

Join the Act For Early Years campaign


Children, teachers and parents reached by MyBestStart phase one last year

Amina, who also has a two-year-old daughter, graduated with a law degree from Damascus University and became a teacher in Syria before moving to Lebanon.

She said: “After teaching Linda at home for a year, I decided to let her go to school the following year. Home schooling is good but never as good as in a school.

“The Tabshoura educational platform helps children with their learning, writing and reading skills. It provides them with videos for entertainment and activities to do at home.”

Linda at home with her online and offline school work in Baalbek, Lebanon (Theirworld/Cara Ghoshal)

Linda, who attends an education centre in the city of Baalbek, said: “I learn the letters that they teach us. I also learn Arabic and English and mathematics at home.”

MyBestStart also supports teachers and caregivers to show learners how to use the content efficiently and how to help children with learning difficulties.

Souma Mir, Project Coordinator at Ana Aqra Association, said: “Our purpose is to prepare the children to go to grade one in public school. We teach them the letters and how to count. My hope is that they will all be able to go to public school.”

MyBestStart is made possible thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.