Education in Syria: Struggling to Cope amidst Conflict

September 12th, 2013

Syria
Image source: http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/23/251368.html

The on-going civil war in Syria has prompted us to address the troubled state of the country’s educational system. The United Nations, in its report released in March of 2013, depicted the collapse of Syria’s education system. With thousands of schools damaged or converted into temporary shelters for displaced civilians, many children have not attended class for nearly two years, since the conflict started. Fearing the safety of their children, many parents don’t even send their children to school even in areas where their school may be open.

The UN report said that “at least a fifth of the country’s schools have suffered direct damage, and in others where classes are still held, overcrowding has pushed class sizes to 100 students.” UNICEF’s assessment of the situation was carried out in December 2012 and since then, the conflict has escalated and worsened with no end in sight.

“The education system in Syria is reeling from the impact of violence,” said Yo Jelil, the UNICEF representative in Syria. “Syria once prided itself on the quality of its education. Now it’s seeing the gains it made over the years rapidly reversed.”

Here are some facts about the current state of education in Syria based on the March 2013 report from UN’s UNICEF:

• More than 75% of schools in the country have been closed because of the on-going conflict. About 2,960 schools out of more than 22,000 schools in the country have been damaged and destroyed.

• Over 1,500 schools are being used as shelters for displaced person

• More than 200 teachers and other staff have been killed and many others are no longer reporting to work

• Some schools have been used by armed forces and groups involved in the conflict

• Educators are looking at alternative ways of offering lessons, such as using mosques instead of schools to teach, as parents worry warplanes usually target schools where the displaced have sought refuge.

• A group of activists in Idlib Province has started a radio station called “Colors FM,” and offer a daily 90-minute broadcast of lessons in English, math and science aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 10.

• UNICEF’s plans to try to alleviate Syria’s education crisis include the donation of school supplies and prefabricated classrooms and outreach to internally displaced children. UNICEF needs US$20 million to complete its projects. (At the time March 2013 report was released, the agency had received no more than $3 million.)

• Two charts prepared by UNICEF depicting the regions in Syria where school have been damaged and attendance rate:

Syria_chart

Syria_chart_2

• University education and university students have been severely affected by the conflict. For a glimpse of the damage brought on this sector of Syria’s education system, we strongly recommend the article “Syria’s Lost Generation,” Keith David Watenpaugh which appeared in the June 3, 2013 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/Syrias-Lost-Generation/139517/

Want to help?

The Institute for International Education (IIE) http://www.iie.org together with Jusoor http://www.jusoor-sy.org and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) http://www.iit.edu have announced a “Commitment to Action at the 2012 annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org that includes providing emergency grants to students whose education has been interrupted by the crisis, and to scholars whose lives are threatened in Syria. To join the consortium, visit the IEE link: http://www.iie.org/Who-We-Are/IIENetwork/Emergency-Support-For-Students-From-Syria

You may also reach out directly to UNICEF at http://www.unicef.org.

Alan
Alan Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit http://www.acei-global.org.

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