Mohamad Marza

“Youthreach was more than a second chance, it was my second home!”

A young Syrian Man is working towards his dream job as a computer engineer and has a lot to say about his journey to get him to where he is.

Mohamad Marza is in Year 2 of his 4-year Degree in DCU studying Computer Science.

Mohamad arrived in Ireland in 2017 at 17 years of age and started into the middle of 5th year in a local secondary school. With limited English and having had such a traumatic journey to the place he now calls home, Mohamad found it very difficult to settle into the leaving cert cycle. Youthreach was recommended to Mohamad as a more relaxed and practical way to learn, and that is exactly what he found.

Youthreach is a free education, training and work experience programme provided through Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) Further Education and Training (FET) Service. The Youthreach Programme is a full-time course is for students aged 16-20.

“I went there because many people advised me that it will be your best opportunity to start from the beginning and then have the opportunity to go to university”.

Which is just what Mohamad is doing. Youthreach gave Mohamad the foundation and support he needed to reengage with education and work towards achieving his QQI Level 4 in General Learning. This qualification allowed him to go to O’Fiaich Institute of Further Education in Dundalk and achieve his QQI Level 5 in Computer Science and Mobile Apps, and this further enabled him to apply for a QQI Level 8 Degree.

Mohamad counts himself very lucky to have found another route to third-level education. Youthreach is designed to be more like a further education college and is very supportive to each of the learners needs. It is so different to school in many ways. There are no uniforms and subjects are delivered as modules, students are constantly working towards their awards by a process called continuous assessment, which takes a lot of pressure of the learner. Mohamad’s progress is then reviewed twice a year to ensure he’s meeting his targets and learning outcomes, as well as looking at areas such as attendance, timekeeping, engagement, and participation on the programme. While the main objective of Youthreach is to achieve qualifications to allow young people progress, the work around the improvement of Personal and Social development is key to achieving this.

“I enjoyed a lot of things in Youthreach such as staff, all the delicious food and the different subjects which was very new to me”. It is clear from talking to Mohamad that the friendships and the relationships developed with the staff were key to him engaging and participating on the programme. He felt like himself and could relax in the small, supportive environment.

In Youthreach, the classes are very small, you have around five or six people in the room and that is key to the support Youthreach offers learners who had difficulties in mainstream secondary school.

“In school when the teacher was presenting if I didn’t know something, I wasn’t able to stop the teacher to ask, because of the number of students there and I feel shy and embarrassed to ask my questions about something basic, however in Youthreach there is a small number of students and I felt I could ask anything and was encouraged to do so”. The ongoing support was key to Mohamad’s success. There is also significant support around LLN (Language, Literacy and Numeracy) for every student. There is also a counselling service available every week, and students can utilise that too.

Apart from saying Youthreach was a place for education Mohamad went on to say that Youthreach “felt that it was my second home, the Coordinator Bernie and all the staff used to treat us so kindly and showed an interest in every part of my life”.

He went to say “my favourite memory there was when they had a multicultural day and every student had to participate. There were projects in Art, communications, personal effectiveness, and catering. As part of catering class Mohamad produced some traditional Syrian dishes which everyone tasted and loved, and his was especially important as his father is a Chef. All students could invite their families to the event, and all of Mohmand family came, and it was so important for his parents to see him, happy and content in his school.

“I met very good people there and I had good fun days”. Mohamad finished by saying that this is “my story and just a glimpse into my time in Youthreach and wanted to thank everyone so much that helped me in Youthreach”.

CMETB have six Youthreach centres across the two counties, with 3 centres in County Cavan, located in Cavan town, Cootehill and Kingscourt and 3 centres in County Monaghan, located in Monaghan town, Castleblayney and Carrickmacross.

CMETB’s six Youthreach centres are now enrolling. If you, or someone you know, is thinking about joining the programme, you can find more information at this link:

You can also call the Youthreach Centres on the following numbers:

  • Cavan Youthreach: 049 4361573
  • Cootehill Youthreach: 087 6523517 or 049 5552561
  • Kingscourt Youthreach: 087 1439306 or 042 9693794
  • Monaghan Youthreach: 087 2673180 or 047 83554
  • Castleblayney Youthreach: 087 1869309 or 042 – 9749356
  • Carrickmacross Youthreach: 087-6745788 or 042 9673906

Youthreach is co-funded by the Government of Ireland, the European Social Fund and the Young Employment Initiative as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning.