In a manner that does not comply to its grand media campaign about the return of stability and the restoration processes in former opposition-held areas, the educational sector in different parts of the northern countryside of Homs stands as a witness to the bad services offered by the government of the Syrian regime after it bombarded most of the state’s schools while the opposition controlled the areas.
Assad’s forces operations in the areas out of the regime’s control led to the destruction of schools and educational facilities in many villages and towns in the northern countryside of Homs, to thus apply pressure on the opposition establishments and disable them from proving themselves as a convenient substitute for the regime’s institutions.
With Assad’s forces control over the northern countryside of Homs and the departure of the opposition factions, so far the regime’s institutions failed to restore what has been destroyed by the military machine, and the educational reality in the area did not witness any progress despite the beginning of the new school year in the shadow of the media propaganda adopted by the regime’s government, according to which it imposed a new school uniform on students, one they could not afford.
Since northern rural Homs managed to break out from the control of the Syrian regime early in 2012, Assad’s forces started, first of all, to systematically destroy infrastructure and schools. As a result of this, about 80% of the schools were destroyed, according to studies conducted by local councils in the area in early 2018, as Enab Baladi’s reporter in Homs said.
Even through the regime has taken the area over about four months ago, it failed, to the day, to restore any of the destroyed school in correspondence with the beginning of the school year, according to sources from the educational establishment in Homs.
The sources told Enab Baladi that the orders they received from the Education Directorate provide for keeping the educational situation as it for this year, students will again be receiving their education at rented houses, poultry farms and warehouses divided into classrooms with curtains.
The Education Directorate has sent the “Red Crescent” Organization a letter as to provide the schools with new curtains to divide the rooms at the “makeshift schools,” as they were called under the control of the opposition factions in the past a few years.
In addition to the Education Directorate’s in Homs governorate declaration of allocating 400 million Syrian pounds for the restoration of 65 schools in the northern rural Homs. However, the declaration was not translated into actions, after the Directorate has requested that contractors start the restoration process to receive the expenses on a later date.
One of the contractors told Enab Baladi that “in a meeting, the head of the Directorate, requested that we start the schools’ restoration process. On asking about the sum of money allocated to this end, the director answered saying that we have no assigned sum, you can work now, and you will get your money later. With the government, you would not lose a thing.”
The contractors, however, refused the suggestion, because they already had debts which the government of the Syrian regime has not met yet, though they have been there for ten years now.
School Uniform is a Must
The Education Directorate’s decision which obliges students to wear the new school uniform is a burden on the people under the deteriorating economic situation, especially in the areas that have been destroyed and displaced, as well as the exhaustion of resources which they suffered during the years of war.
Abu Abdo, a man from the city of Talbiseh, northern rural Homs, told Enab Baladi that “We have lost all our money in the past years of war, and the majority of the people are classified under the poverty line due to siege and destruction, in addition to the fact that 70% of the population were suspended from work.”
Abu Abdo adds saying that the student needs stationery, which enhances the burdens of the new uniform’s expenses, especially that the school year corresponds to a time where people are preparing food storage and winter being at the door.
The government of the Syrian regime has, nonetheless, offered a loan of 50 thousand Syrian pounds, that can be met in a duration of ten months. But getting the loan stipulates that the loaner has two guarantors to ensure that he can repay and that the loaners buy the uniform and stationery from the regime affiliated “Syrian Trading” centers, according to Abu Abdo.
Enab Baladi’s reporter in the eastern countryside of Homs had made a tour in the markets and spotted the prices of the new school uniform, imposed on the students on the pretext of unifying the school outfit under a decree issued by the Ministry of Education:
A girl’s shirt 3000-4500 SPs.
A boy’s shirt 3300-4800SPs.
A boy’s pants 6000-7000 SPs.
School bags 2500-6000 SPs.