Fri 18 Oct 2019

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Residents Of Daraa Repairing Schools At Their Own Expense

Rehabilitation of a school in the city of Daraa in southern Syria - August 2019 (SANA)

Rehabilitation of a school in the city of Daraa in southern Syria - August 2019 (SANA)

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The new school year is inaugurated in Daraa amid difficulties brought by the war, which has destroyed the majority of schools either entirely or partially. The citizens of the governorate decided to renovate these schools respectively, but at their own expense, not the State’s.

In the past months, the Department of Education in Daraa has supervised the process and started repairing several schools at the expense of the local community. The Head of the Education Department, Mohammed Khayr al-Odah, told SANA last August that three schools were rehabilitated in Nasib village thanks to the local community, in addition to four school extensions in the town of Kahil, and offering lockers to schools.

Al-Odah said two schools were repaired in the town of Ataman in cooperation with the local community, as well as a school in Sidon and al-Hirak and two schools in Sheikh Miskeen town.

 

At the expense of the locals

Yassine Kaddah, 30, a former employee of a humanitarian organization at al-Hirak town, told Enab Baladi that the third elementary school has been repaired thanks to the donations of the locals, who decided to make this move to enable schools in the town to receive all the students and make sure they will learn.

“In case schools were not repaired, the rest of the schools will be subject to a lot of pressure,” added Kaddah.

According to Abu Basim, 50, from the town of Sidon, the donations of the local residents covered a large part of the costs of restoration.

“Schools are being subject to a lot of pressure due to weak capacity, especially that no new schools have been built in the past years,” said Abu Basim, explaining that the rehabilitation includes repairing walls, doors and toilets and painting too.

 

Great damage and devastated infrastructure

Over the past years, the education sector has been negatively affected, and most of the schools in the areas were destroyed.

The Department of Education identified the number of the damaged schools and sorted them following the degree of damage. The Head of the Department clarified that the number of schools in need for partial renovation amounted to 363, and the completely destroyed schools were about 111. The cost of rehabilitation is estimated at 30 billion Syrian Pounds.

Mohamed Diab, 45, a teacher from the city of Daraa, told Enab Baladi that schools are being subject to influx of students during the current school year. The number of students may amount to more than 30 per classroom, making it difficult and exhausting for the teacher to get students to understand.

According to the teacher, two reasons are behind this pressure. First, some schools are out of service; thus, exerting pressure on schools eligible to teach. The second reason is the lack of schools that can commensurate with population increase.

 

Heavy costs for the locals

The beginning of the school year triggers concerns over securing the needs of students, such as clothing and stationery, especially that the Department of Education had imposed uniforms on different age groups (primary, preparatory and secondary).

“Umm Hassan,” a housewife from Daraa having four children, one of them is a high school student, told Enab Baladi that the cost of buying school clothes for him only amounted to 25,000 Syrian Pounds.

She also said that buying school clothes “is expensive, especially given the low income, high prices and the cost of life,” and went on: “I’m doing my best because it is about the future of my children.”

According to Umm Hassan, there are no preparatory and secondary schools in some villages, and this requires renting means of transport and increases the family’s financial burden.

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