Sense of Order Or Disturbance: Private Education In Al-Bab City Threatened With Shut Down
Sudden procedures, followed by al-Bab City Local Council, eastern countryside of Aleppo, threaten with canceling all forms of private education, under a decision that provide for abolishing private education institutions and maintaining public ones only.
On July 18, 2019, the local council’s Educational Office in Al-Bab notified the private institutes and schools operating in the city and its countryside, asking them to suspend all classes once and for all under liability.
What reasons lie behind the decision?
And what consequences would it have on the education system in al-Bab City and Its Countryside?
Curriculum dilemma again in spotlight
The decision of al Bab’s local council provides for “the non-renewal of licenses granted to private schools, which have been operated under a one-year-license, in addition to closing them completely,” according to the director of the local council’s Educational Office, teacher Fawzi al-Sayeh, who added that the decision also facilitates for “shutting down the unlicensed private institutes and centers as well.”
|The number of the private education centers that will be shut down under the decision of al-Bab City Local Council is 20 centers, providing services to over 850 students of all grades, according to the local council’s Educational Office|
In an interview with Enab Baladi, al-Sayeh said that the decision targets all private education institutions, apart from the authorized ones.
In regard to the motives of the decision, the director of the Educational Office stated that the decision has been triggered by the institutions’ lack of official licenses and their non-adherence to the instructions of al-Bab Directorate of Education, not to mention the lack of an educational environment that complies with almost none of the set up official standards, as well as the high fee demanded by a number of institutes, which constitute an economic burden to families.
However, the decision’s essential causes are connected in one way or another to the curricula taught in private institutes and schools in al-Bab, which effected an educational rift between public and private institutions.
The local council of al-Bab city and its countryside has accused some private institutions of adopting educational curricula that opposition-controlled areas do not acknowledge, considering that these curricula endorse the Syrian regime’s principles.
The Director of the Al-Fatih Sultan Mehmet Institute in al-Bab, Mr. Muhammad Mishaimish, told Enab Baladi that the curricula taught by most of the private education institutions in al-Bab are similar to those modified by the Syrian opposition coalition.
“We adopt the Syrian regime’s curricula for 2010 with some modifications related to changing the cover of books, for they contain symbols promoting the regime, in addition to the deletion of information and vocabularies that glorify the regime and its figures,” he added.
Mishaimish, holder of a Ph.D. in Arabic, said that having proven that some schools are adopting the curriculum of the Syrian regime does not justify the generalization of the consequences on all private educational institutions in al-Bab and its countryside.
Private education is “public right”
In the aftermath of the local council’s decision of shutting down all private institutes in al-Bab city and its countryside, some private education institutions issued a joint statement on July 20, declining the decision and calling upon the council to reverse it. The statement was subsequent to the meeting held by the representatives of these institutions and dignitaries, teachers, mukhtars and mosque preachers from al-Bab city.
The participants proposed solutions to protect private education as a “necessity” and a “public right”, emphasizing that they would not close their schools down and would continue to operate within private schools and institutes.
Professor Muhammad Mishaimish, who has been a teacher for 19 years, believes that the decision adopted by the local council against private educational institutions is “unjust,” pointing out that some institutions were accredited and their accreditation was withdrawn in the application of the decision, thus, becoming threatened with closure.
Mishaimish also told Enab Baladi that private education is a “necessity,” given the overcrowdedness of classrooms in al-Bab city’s public schools, with about 50 to 70 students in each class, which is not accepted by some parents, and due to which they resort to private schools.
“well- off parents have the right to send their children to private schools and this is their own business and no one can interfere,” he added.
The proficiency of teachers is another problem, which caused a gap between private and public schools, for the local council is blaming private schools for attracting and retaining teachers by paying them higher wages. Plus, the experienced teachers think that they are not well- appreciated in public schools as described by Mishaimish.
Situation of students at stake
following the council’s decision, the Educational Office at the city sought to bridge the gap and avoid the negative effects that may impact private education’s students and influence their education.
On this note, the Director of the Educational Office, Fawzi al-Sayeh, told Enab Baladi that private education students will be enrolled in public schools based on their marks.
Additionally, the local council will work on opening new centers, offering various courses, in the schools of the Directorate of Education in Aleppo at nominal prices. The private institutes will be also allowed to provide students with courses at the schools of the Directorate of Education, which will help them save some expenses, thus, alleviate some of the financial burdens bothering students and parents.
The Turkey-backed local council plans to open schools designated for popular education and illiteracy-eradication classes; it also seeks to launch a program to provide underperforming students with free compensatory classes, who have dropped out school due to shelling and displacement, al-Sayeh said.
In mid-August 2018, the Educational Office of al-Bab City Local Council released a statement, saying that private institutes in the city should be licensed under specific conditions.
Of the prerequisites were that the private istitute should encompass an area of 2000 square feet. Additionally, there should be a gender diversity of specialized teachers. Nevertheless, some of the owners of the institutes considered these conditions “excessive,” particularly in relation to space.
The decision is part of the local councils’ efforts in the northern and eastern Aleppo countryside, with the support of Turkish states, to fully organize the area in various fields.