Education in Syria
is a Middle Eastern country that has been independent since 1946. Civil unrest and war within the country have been major conflicts that have affected other countries worldwide since 2011. These crises have had many negative effects on the Syrian education system. Here are eight facts about education in Syria.

8 Facts About Education in Syria

  1. Mandatory Primary Education
    Primary Education in Syria is six years in length and is required by law for all children to attend. After this, children have the option – but are not obligated – to attend three years of lower-secondary education. Following this is an examination and for students who pass, the option to attend one of two types of three-year upper-secondary education, followed by another exam. Those who pass receive a Baccalaureate or a Technical Baccalaureate; at least one of these certificates is required to attend a university.
  2. Female Education Prejudice
    In Syria, despite the legal requirements to send children of both sexes to school, enrollment rates are dropping. Acts of violence, including sexual assault, are used to ensure girls do not attend school. Parents push for their boys to attend school when they can, but that encouragement is not extended to their daughters. More and more often, girls will stay at home until they are married and are then expected to take care of the household and children, fulfilling more traditional gender roles.
  3. Impact of the War
    With war a constant part of the daily lives of Syrians, violence is affecting the education process. Bombings and shootings have damaged an estimated 40% of school buildings. This makes it difficult for parents to send their children to school when a violent attack could happen at any time.
  4. Refugee Status
    Many Syrian refugee children are not enrolled in school or any type of education due to a variety of factors, despite attempts to increase their access to education. Some of these factors include language barriers, lack of transportation and child disabilities.
  5. Child Marriage and Child Labor
    Many children who do not have access to general education are forced into child labor. Some who do have access to education may still be pressured into child labor to help provide for the family. There is also the possibility that they will be forced into child marriages. Child marriage and labor are not uncommon in Syria and are major influences on the declining education rate.
  6. The Norwegian Refugee Council Aid
    In 2018, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s education program provided for children who did not have access to either education or a safe environment in which to learn. The organization has collaborated with parents and teachers to rebuild schools and re-enroll children who have been unable to attend. The goal is to recapture the education many children had lost raise them back up to appropriate education levels.
  7. UNICEF Education Programs
    The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund aims to protect and satisfy the needs of children. Recently, the organization provided over a hundred classrooms and over three-quarters of a million school bags filled with school supplies to children in Syria. This program helped to reach 2.4 million children both in the country and across borders with refugee status.
  8. 2019 Humanitarian Strategy
    The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan is working to increase education access throughout 2020 to both children living in Syria and Syrian refugees. UNICEF will assist in providing educational services, as well as clean water and hygiene for school camps, food assistance and basic needs that are non-food related. This plan aims to reach Syria and the five main regions hosting Syrian refugees: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

These eight facts about education in Syria show that while there are many factors preventing children from gaining an education, there are just as many aid programs determined to provide children with access to a stable learning environment. These programs help Syrians who reside in the home country as well as Syrian refugees who are fleeing to escape violence.

– Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Flickr

Impact of Violence Girls Education Syria
Prior to the civil war that has plagued Syria for six years, the Syrian government created a movement to end illiteracy by 1991. These efforts were fruitful, with enrollments stretching towards 100 percent.

At the onset of the conflict, however, education took a huge hit, with enrollments dropping drastically — 92 percent in 2004 to 61 percent by 2013 (for primary education). Just as one can see in non-government controlled eastern areas like Aleppo where as little as 6 percent of kids attend school, girls’ education in Syria has been affected most drastically.

Girls’ Education in Syria

This drop in schooling has created a consolidation of hardships. Not only are children subjected to violence and loss, but their acquisition of skills and knowledge falls behind the norm. In many areas, middle-school-aged kids are unable to complete first-grade math problems. This drag in skill alters the students’ self- esteem and perception, and leaves long-term effects.

The decline in scholastic enrollments can be directly and indirectly attributed to the Syrian conflict. School bombings and shootings have left facilities destitute, while simultaneously created an environment of fear surrounding schooling. In eastern provinces, 40 percent of schools have been shot at or bombed; as a result, more parents are inclined to keep their children out of school from fear of an attack.

Impact of Destruction

Buildings have been destroyed while others have been converted to emergency shelters, which are structural decisions that create a lack of space for education. In addition to an absence of physical space, the war has created a shortage of teachers — school staffing has fallen 22 percent due to death, emigration and fear of returning to work.

Many schools have suspended activity indefinitely to keep students out of harm’s way; others have been forced to move classrooms to secret locations, often underground, or have opted to replace glass windows with bulletproof plastic.

The violence has led to nearly 3 million of the 4.8 Syrian school-aged children to leave schools — about 2.2 million children within Syria and another half of a million Syrian child refugees.

Displaced and Uneducated

Syria has the most displaced persons out of any country in the world. Among refugee children, only 17 percent are in school. Language barriers coupled with political prejudice and financial inadequacy have made enrollment extremely difficult. While aid agencies have attempted to help refugee children, the well of information necessary for refugees to navigate a new and unfamiliar system remains largely untapped.

The war has been even more detrimental to girls’ education in Syria. In many cases, rape has been used as a weapon against young girls, inciting parental prejudice against female educational opportunities. Education is directly linked to opportunities and empowerment, particularly for young girls; interestingly, in areas of extreme conflict, girls are almost two and a half times more likely to be out of school, thus causing them to fall behind their male counterparts.

Save the Children

While many organizations — such as Save the Children and UNICEF — have intervened to help protect the children, in order to foster an environment conducive to learning, schools must be safeguarded against violence. Save the Children currently supports 53 schools in the northern regions of the nation through security, funding and promoting more sensitive teaching approaches. UNICEF advocates a similar approach by encouraging innovation for classrooms and supporting international responses to refugee children’s educational opportunities.

The protection of education and particularly girls’ education in Syria is necessary for economic recovery and social stabilization. Failure to address issues surrounding schools will only perpetuate the conflict and the issues left in its wake.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr

Syrian Brain Freeze: A Generation Going Uneducated
The Syrian refugee crisis is one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time. Since the conflict began almost five years ago, more than seven million Syrians have been displaced and four million are living in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Among those four million, one million are children.

Syria had one of the best education rates in all of the Middle East before conflict erupted during the Arab Spring. Almost all of Syrian children were enrolled in primary school, and literacy rates were above 94 percent. That all changed once violence consumed the nation.

Basic education enrollment in Syria went from 100 percent to an average of 50 percent, but heavy conflict zones such as Aleppo have seen enrollment rates as low as 6 percent.

Syria is a vortex of intertwining complex problems, such as war and violence, that has leading nations and nongovernment organizations preoccupied with exerting their most valuable resources into their main objective: preserving human life and dignity.

The consequence of this is that other important issues such as education, sanitation and economic development are being neglected. Together, they will have dire consequences on the future of Syria.

An entire generation of Syrians may go uneducated. According to Save the Children, three million Syrian children overall are out of school. That means three million youth are deprived of economic opportunities, and more are susceptible to be recruited by radical and extremist groups that promise them a future of prosperity.

The violence has decimated educational facilities around Syria as well. It is estimated that to repair or replace damaged facilities, it would cost an estimated 2 billion GBP. More importantly, the resulting uneducated population will impact the future Syrian economy in a large way.

It is estimated that the future economy will lose 5.4 percent of its GDP because of the lack of skilled workers. This equates to almost 1.5 billion GBP.

There is hope, though. The United Nations had called for $224 million to ensure that the Syrian youth receive education. The United Nations also passed two resolutions to help aid reach its destination faster: resolution 2165 and 2191, which, among other things, authorized United Nations aid operations into Syria from neighboring countries without requiring the consent of the Syrian government.

Private companies such as Pearson, one of the largest publishers of education books in the world, are donating money to help educate the children. Pearson is planning to spend 1 million euros to help find solutions for Syria’s refugee education crisis and another 500,000 euros to support two education centers in Amman, Jordan.

With so many parents attempting to send their children to school, private schools with their subsidized programs are attempting to fill the void. While some may question the ethics behind building private institutions to provide humanitarian aid, Rob Williams, Chief Executive of War Child U.K.—a campaign that works to protect children in war—believes they might help.

He says that “there is evidence that private solutions can be quicker and the cost per pupil lower than with government solutions.” A combination of public and private projects will help quickly address a huge growing problem.

It may not be a permanent solution, but at the moment all resources available must be allocated to providing the necessary aid to end the conflict. The United States must also contribute and urge other nations to end the conflict and protect the children. An educated Syria will be better equipped to deal with the uncertain future.

Adnan Khalid

Sources: The Guardian, Save the Children 1, Save the Children 2, Save the Children 3, United Nations
Photo: Flickr

z1 Syria flagJuly 12 marked the 18th birthday of the Pakistani education activist and youngest-ever Nobel Peace laureate, Malala Yousafzai. Considering her continued advocacy for children’s education despite being shot by the Taliban, it should be of no surprise that she celebrated her 18th birthday by opening a secondary school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near Syria’s border.

The Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School is supported by the Malala Fund, Yousafzai’s nonprofit organization, which believes every girl should be able to achieve her dreams through education. The school will serve 200 Syrian girls between the ages of 14 and 18 living in refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley region along the Lebanese border. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, Lebanon hosts more than 1 million of Syria’s 4 million refugees.

According to the Malala Fund’s blog, the school’s curriculum allows students to receive baccalaureate or vocational degrees through the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education. It also gives students who cannot commit to the four-year baccalaureate the option to receive skills that will aid them in finding work and generating their own incomes.

At the inauguration of the Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School, Yousafzi said “I am honored to mark my 18th birthday with the brave and inspiring girls of Syria. I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them […] On this day, I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region and the world — you are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria’s children. This is a heartbreaking tragedy—the world’s worst refugee crisis in decades.”

Malala also called on world leaders to invest in “books not bullets.” She had previously asked world leaders to give an additional $39 billion each year to secure 12 years of free schooling for children around the world. According to the Malala Fund:

  • 62 million girls are not attending school around the world;
  • The poorest girls only spend an average of 3 years acquiring an education;
  • There are 70 countries where girls have faced violence for trying to go to school.

Isn’t it time we changed that so the world’s poor can have the opportunity for a better life?

Paula Acevedo

Sources: The Malala Fund, NPR, PBS

Malala Yousafzai has become one of the world’s most prominent advocates for children’s education, following an assassination attempt against her from the Taliban. This young girl, who almost died standing up for her right to learn, who lived to tell the tale of being shot in the head for simply going to school, has become a symbol for the dignity of an education.

At least three million children have been displaced as a result of the current conflict in Syria, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates. On average, these children are likely to spend 10 years in refugee camps or in temporary shelters. The right to receive an education or to be educated upon reaching adulthood and to experience childhood with dignity and hope for the future cannot wait.

Malala is making efforts to ensure that the masses of Syrian children are afforded these basic rights. On February 18, the 16-year-old girl visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in an effort to raise money for children’s education in the camp.

“When I think of these children, I can feel what they would be feeling now and what they are suffering through. So that’s why I think that it’s a responsibility to protect these children,” Malala said.

Currently, 50,000 students are educated in only three schools. Despite the tremendous difficulties facing refugee camps, such as food, shelter and adequate hygiene, Malala expresses the importance of education for young children coming from violent circumstances. Whereas aggression and brutality can negatively influence a child’s behavior, education and school environments help teach children to work in groups and solve problems in a healthy manner.

In Lebanon, some schools are going on double shift in efforts to equip Syrian refugee children with a proper education. The double shifts allow more lessons for more students without requiring any new facilities. Within weeks, these institutions have shown results that children have started to recover from their traumatic experiences.

Malala Yousafzai has taught the world that an education is something worth fighting for. Home or no home, all children deserve to learn.

– Jaclyn Stutz

Sources: CNN, New York Daily News, NPR
Photo: Should-Know