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As-Suwayda schools without allocations: Associations contribute in the replenishment

Red Crescent activities carried out during classes in a school in the town of Ira – August, 2018 (Enab Baladi)

Red Crescent activities carried out during classes in a school in the town of Ira – August, 2018 (Enab Baladi)

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The schools of as-Suwayda province are denied the necessary financial allocations to maintain the continuity of its educational activities. In fact, these schools are undergoing a significant deterioration; especially during the current semester due to the absence of essential support for students and teachers from the Syrian regime’s part.

As-Suwayda Education Directorate is unable to provide schools with the minimum of the required resources, such as chalk, whiteboard markers and other supplies, in addition to fuel oil, which is necessary for heating classrooms in winter.

 

Dreadful conditions diminish students’ motivation to learn

The shortage of fuel oil supplies has led students to miss schools last week, after a sharp drop in temperature. Such incidents occur repeatedly during the winter.

Huda, a mother of two toddlers in primary school, said that her children have suffered from a severe illness due to cold classrooms, where they study. Thus, the mother was obliged to keep her children at home during cold days. She asserted that “the lack of heating can be tolerated by high school students or even junior high school students. However, primary school pupils, who are still too young to resist extreme weather, cannot be left without heating in such low temperature.”

Huda added that, by all means, she did not see any desired results from the whole education process in general, “the teachers’ eagerness to  practice their profession has significantly dropped due to their poor personal economic conditions, apart from the lack of suitable educational means and supplies.”

An Arabic language teacher in one of the southern villages of as-Suwayda, who asked not to be identified, has confirmed Huda’s testimony. He stated that the shortage of supplies is not limited only to fuel oil, but also includes all forms of educational necessities: “I buy a box of chalk and whiteboard markers on my own expense, while other teachers are trying to dispense such tools and explain the lessons just from books.”

He indicated that this kind of shortage “reduces the quality of education. On the other hand, teachers, who are underpaid, cannot undertake the responsibility of providing school supplies and bear the burden of ameliorating the level of education in as-Suwayda schools… Every teacher tries to make an effort to change the current situation either by urging the responsible parties to bring necessary materials or by creating alternative methods of teaching. Soon he/she feels disappointed and stops trying. Unfortunately, students are the ones who ultimately pay the price.”

 

The Red Crescent: An informal alternative

An employee at as-Suwayda Education Directorate, who asked not to be named, has confirmed that not only schools are short of supplies, but also all the departments of the Ministry of Education suffer from the same situation.

“What supplies you are talking about? The directorate’s employees have also to pay for their own pens. We resorted to buying pens on our own expense after chasing the warehouse clerk and members of the procurement committee like beggars,” she said.

She added that school supplies go through a process of drainage in its way to schools, after being transferred from one hand to the other; and at the final stage of such a journey, the school principal must also participate in the embezzlement and have a share of ‘the cake’.”

The staff member considered that the persons who steal the fuel oil, for example, cannot be blamed. “If they were to choose between the priority of educating students and the warmth of their families, they will definitely choose the second option. Thus, they cannot be incriminated for making such a choice. We have to go back to the source of corruption in this government, which continues to humiliate the Syrian citizens in order to provide them with the most essential necessities of life. Syrians have to stand in long lines waiting for bread from public ovens or to obtain gas, diesel, and other necessities.”

According to the Arabic language teacher, some of the associations operating in as-Suwayda, including the Red Crescent and the Syrian Society for Social Development, which offer free courses to children in the region, are now providing their surplus supplies to schools as a form of support outside the frame of its activities.

One of the Red Crescent volunteers told Enab Baladi that the aforementioned associations have the necessary supplies to cover the needs of all schools in the region.

According to the volunteer, “UNHCR provides excellent material support to these associations, but they cannot give these supplies to schools. Such mission is not on their list of tasks, but they always try to keep the remaining unused materials to be presented informally to schools, in the hope of saving an entire educational facility from collapsing by offering such a small aid proportion.”

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