Happy Walls, Happy Schools
Syrian and Jordanian Students Jointly Painting School Walls in Amman, Jordan
On 3 August 2017, a number of Syrian and Jordanian parents from the industrial southern district of Amman, Sahab (Jordan) came together to attend the closing ceremony of a community mural project done by their children. Students of “Arqam Bin Abi Al Arqam” public school, aged between 8 and 13 years, used collaborative art-making for a duration of one week to address issues important to their lives and co-existence, which they proudly presented to their parents and local community.
One week earlier, a similar project took place at another district in the eastern part of Amman, Nazzal, in which students nurtured a colourful environment at their school “Nusseibah Bin Ka’ab”. During these events, Jordanian and Syrian students worked collaboratively through educational workshops guided by the artists of international community-based public arts organisation, ‘Artolution’, to create the designs of the murals.
These engaging and colourful events were organised within the framework of the Qudra Programme – a regional action financed by the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, the ‘Madad’ Fund and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) – implemented in partner countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and North Iraq. Qudra aims to strengthen the resilience of Syrian refugees, IDPs and host communities in response to the Syrian and Iraqi crises by offering its support through 5 specific objectives (SOs). GIZ Qudra SO1 team in Jordan, through the ‘Happy Walls, Happy Schools’ project, carried the programme one step further and contributed to the realisation of one of the main aims of the programme: improving school infrastructures and providing increased access to good quality formal and non-formal education services for host communities and the Syrian refugees.
The ‘Happy Walls, Happy Schools’ project – from choosing the themes of murals and creating sketches, to jointly painting school walls – have fostered the interaction of Jordanian and Syrian children, who study at the same schools but with little to no interaction. This is due to the influx of Syrian refugees from neighbouring countries and regions that led public schools in Jordan to become overcrowded. Around 200 schools have doubled their capacity in Jordan to match the increased needs of Syrian refugees by running double-shift systems in schools where Jordanian children would go to school in the mornings and Syrian children attend in the afternoons. Thus, the art workshops and murals provided common platforms for students to come together for achieving a shared goal and discuss the future they would like to see in their schools. Through the support and guidance of Artolution facilitators, students’ ideas for murals were translated into one cohesive composition, which then resulted in collaborative paintings on the walls of schools. ‘Jordan as a safe haven’ for refugees and a ‘resilient traditional woman’ with hope for a better future had become the main themes of the murals.
The ‘Happy Walls, Happy Schools’ project has been intended to complement GIZ’s rehabilitation measures at overcrowded schools to improve the learning conditions for students. It has kick-started a process of resuming ownership of public schools in vulnerable neighbourhoods and also training teachers and local artists to continue similar projects at other public schools in Jordan.