Why Did the Kurdish “Self-Management” Close the Syriac Private School in Eastern al-Hasakah?

Students from St. Gabriel Syriac Orthodox School in Qamishli – March 2018 (the Syriac Political Institute)

Students from St. Gabriel Syriac Orthodox School in Qamishli – March 2018 (the Syriac Political Institute)


The Kurdish “Self-Management,” in the east-northern part of Syria, continues to impose its educational policy on schools in the areas under its control, shutting down a number of private schools in al-Hasakah governorate.

On Friday, August 10, three schools were closed in al-Hasakah governorate, on the pretext that they did not get the needed licenses and for breaking the law, based on two official letters issued by the “Joint Presidency of Education Authority in al-Jazira Region,” functioning under the “Self-Management.”

The Syriac Private School, in the city of “Dayrik” (al-Malikiyah), located at the border triangle with Iraq and Turkey has received a closure notice to be implemented in a maximum of 24 hours, issued by the “Prosecution and Investigation Commission,” on August 7.

The two letters, number 290, on July 7, and numbered 297, on the ninth of the same months that the “Educational Joint Presidency” issued provide for closing all the schools that did not get the needed licenses or for teaching curricula that the Authority does not approve and for hosting students who belong to classes that range from the first grade to the final stage of the preparatory school, from seven to 14 years old.

A teacher from one of the private Syriac schools in al-Hasakah explained to Enab Baladi, on the condition of anonymity, the reason why the Syriac school was shut down in al-Malikiyah.

“Because we depended on Syriac curricula prepared by academicians and experts in the field of education about the Syriac culture and civilization, in addition to the curriculum prepared by the Syrian Ministry of Education, and because we did not teach the curriculum issued by the Kurdish management, we are conditioned to teach the Kurdish management’s curricula to get the license,” said the teacher.

At a time where “bullying” private schools has turned into a regular thing in al-Hasakah, according to the teacher, the “Self-Management” has allowed the Syriac schools to host their students on the ground of conditional understandings provided by the “Self-Management” in 2016.

The “Educational Joint Presidency” has allowed the teaching of Syriac language at al-Hasakah schools with the beginning of the school year of 2016-2017, in a unique step that the area never knew prior to the war.

The Syriac teacher explained that “Self-Management” has repeatedly tried to impose the refusal of registering Arab and Kurdish students on private schools, unless they get a permit from the “Asayish” in particular, and to include only Christian Syriac students. However, the Syriac schools did not commit to this, considering such a procedure an ethnic and national discrimination.

The private Syriac schools, which started functioning in 1953, are run by the Diocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church (the smallest unit in the order of the church).

These schools provide their services to the Assyrian, Arab and Kurdish communities, in addition to the Syriacs of the area, depending on the Syrian government’s curricula, but they also teach Syriac as a “liturgical” language.

A number of Christian associations and organizations have criticized the decision, believing that the “Self-Management” is harming education through enhancing its ideology via educational curricula.

The response took the shape of separate statements, demanding that the “Self-Management” immediately allows the reopening of the school.

An employee at the Education Directorate in the governorate of al-Hasakah, affiliated to the Syrian government, has told Enab Baladi yesterday (Friday), August 10, that “Asayish” forces have warned all private schools in the neighborhoods of al-Hasakah, which are under its control, that they will be shut down if they do not stop teaching the Syrian government’s curricula.

The “Self-Management’s” decisions correspond to talks about meetings that will lead to negotiations between the “Syrian Democratic Council” and the Syrian government to reach an understanding about the areas controlled by the “Self-Management.”

Despite the frequency of reports of an initial understanding between the two parties, the Head of the Executive Committee of “Syrian Democratic Council” Ilham Ahmad announced that no results have yet been reached under the talks with the government. This happened at the same day of delivering the closure notice to the private Syriac school and other schools in the governorate of al-Hasakah.

The “Self-Management” has undertaken similar procedures in the past two years against the Syriac schools and private institutes in general.

The forces of “Asayish” broke into the private Syriac Dijlah school in the city of al-Malikiyah in October 2016 because it hosted Arab and Kurdish students

In July 2017, they closed a number of private schools in al-Hasakah neighborhoods that consist of an Arab majority.

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