Sick children receive in-person education in hospital classrooms
Abdullah Şanlı – ISTANBUL
In a bid to help children undergoing medical treatments continue their education, a total of 13 volunteer teachers have been imparting in-person education at various hospitals in Istanbul every day amid the ongoing pandemic, an era where people are even scared to go out.
Working devotedly, these volunteers, who call themselves “hospital teachers,” have been helping sick children getting treated for leukemia or waiting for transplants to continue their education and not become distanced from their schools.
“These children cannot adopt online education due to their treatments and special medica-tion hours,” said Simge Tüzün, one of the volunteer teachers working in two hospitals in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district.
“When I enter the hospital classroom, children greet me with big smiles on their faces. This moves me,” she added.
“Hospital classroom teaching” was added to the special education programs list in the country’s education policy in 1992.
However, the program reaped the fruits until recently as there had been a lack of teachers and hospital classrooms.
Within the scope of the program, 320 volunteer teachers received their training across the country, and 13 of them are in Istanbul at the moment.
“I had to spend some time of my life in hospitals due to my diseases. I was introduced to hospital classrooms there, and that inspired me to become a tutor,” said Erdoğan Korkmaz, another volunteer teacher in Istanbul.
Working at a hospital in the Şişli district last year, he is now at Cerrahpaşa Hospital, a significant hospital affiliated with the Istanbul University.
“I have 48 students in three different clinics at Cerrahpaşa. I visit each clinic every day,” he added.
However, as he contracted COVID-19, he is now under quarantine, longing to meet his students again after the isolation.
When asked about the difference between schools and hospital classrooms, Şahika Cinisli, a volunteer teacher at a hospital in the Göztepe neighborhood of the Kadıköy district, said, “Students run, play and scream at schools. Here students have an IV catheter in their arms and are in pajamas all the time.”
Noting that she has 35 students in her class currently, Cinisli said with sorrow that the numbers of students change as some lose their lives due to medical illnesses.
“When you see a new student sitting at the desk of another lost, you say ‘welcome’ with a smiling face,” she added.
Highlighting that at the beginning of her career she wanted to give up, Tüzün said: “I was getting saddened by the stories of the kids. I thought of stepping back. But then, I said to myself that somebody has to do this, and I continued.”
Noting that people often criticize them for joining hospital classrooms amid the pandemic, Okur said, “When we do not go, these kids have temper tantrums and start rejecting treatments.”
Şule Acar, another volunteer, told the stories of children whose lives changed after one-on-one contact.
“An 11-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, who was fed up fighting with the disease since birth, is now painting and penning tales. She got rid of all of her worries.”