Syria’s university applicants for Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program faced with impossible conditions

Al-Baath University in Homs (SANA)

Al-Baath University in Homs (SANA)


Even though the Ministry of Education in the Syrian government has approved all the applications of the university graduates for occasional teaching positions, it exerted pressure on them, bringing them under conditions regarded to be “unacceptable.”

The Ministry of Education has released the results of the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program, which aims to select 15,000 male and female applicants as substitute/supply teachers. The applicants are to have worked as substitute teachers for no less than 500 days in the primary schools of all directorates of education.

Substitute teaching positions are anticipated to be distributed equally – 50 % each- between the relatives of those who were killed and fully disabled, and the rest of the applicants.

The results show that all applications for substitute teaching positions got approved after a “deep study,” as described by the ministry. Yet, many of the university applicants were victims of not being provided with equal employment opportunities, because there have not been enough employment opportunities for the highly qualified teacher of the first category (which is supposed to recruit university applicants). At the same time, there are many job openings for supply teachers.

Nearly 15,308 applicants have been admitted as substitute teachers; 322 of whom were the relatives of those who were killed and fully disabled.

The recruitment and retention of teachers of the first category are only made available to an applicant of a university degree issued by a university in the Syrian Arab Republic or its equivalent (Bachelor’s degree, teacher training diploma, master’s degree, Ph.D. degree). The formal teacher of the first category receives a higher salary. 

The recruitment and retention of teachers of the second category (substitute teachers) are designated for applicants of a high school diploma or its equivalent, with its various branches, or any school or of an institute’s diploma or its equivalent.

Enab Baladi has monitored the application progress of university graduates in Homs and its countryside to substitute teaching positions in which they have met the conditions, due to their inability to find work in their fields. There was a large number of vacancies in the Occasional Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program, compared to the Teacher Recruitment Program, whose job openings were very limited.

The number of teaching staff employed in the education directorate of Homs amounted to 2,080; 390 teachers are recruited in the al-Rastan educational complex in the northern countryside of Homs, including 16 male teachers and the rest are female teachers whereas 65 teachers are hired in the Taldou complex in the Hula Valley.

First condition: modification of the employment status of substitute teachers is not possible

After launching the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program, the first condition set by the Ministry of Education was to maintain substitute teachers’ employment status and not to improve it under any circumstances, because they are considered teachers of the second category, regardless of their educational qualifications.

Nisreen, a graduate of Arabic literature and a substitute teacher in the northern countryside of Homs, had to apply for the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program. She also signed a paper that her employment status as a substitute teacher (a teacher of a second category) could not be adjusted to be a teacher of the first category.

Nisreen, who asked not to be fully named, said that she has been working as a substitute teacher for eight years, and she has the opportunity to be retained or hired as a permanent teacher, she could not waste it in order to become a teacher of the first category one day.

The Teacher Recruitment Program was initiated with only six vacancies in the educational complex in al-Rastan, while the number of applicants was 48 teachers, according to Nisreen.

Nisreen thought that the applicants for this program were those who did not meet the requirements of the program— 500 teaching days while a large number of admitted applicants in the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program, exceeded twice the number to be retained as teachers of the first grade.

Second condition: Majority of the newly admitted will receive no pensions 

Although the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program has been one of the largest recruitment programs launched by the Syrian regime since 2011, it is considered one of the most unfair teacher selection processes in which the admitted are deprived of their rights.

University graduates are treated as teachers of the second category (substitute teachers) in the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program. Not only this, but they will not obtain a pension by the applicable regulations, which stipulate the years of teaching service are to exceed 25 years to receive a pension. Besides, after teachers reach the age of 61, they are automatically barred from employment and pensions.

Sumaya, a resident of Kafr laha town in the Hula Valley, told Enab Baladi, that she spent her life working as a substitute teacher with a salary of 17,000 Syrian pounds (SYP- 12 USD) and this year her salary increased to 37,000 ( 27 USD). Sumaya was forced to apply for the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program because this program included a lot of teaching vacancies. After she was admitted as a substitute teacher, she realized that she cannot get a pension because she will reach the age of 60 before completing 25 years of teaching service. She will be barred from employment with a small benefit only paid.

The graduate of the Faculty of Mathematics Sumaya considers that the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program, according to which she agreed to serve as a substitute teacher, wronged her because this program was conducted too late.

Third condition: University applicants must attend the teaching training course

The applicants accepted in the Occasional Supply / Substitute Teacher Recruitment Program, are being subjected to a teaching training course for retaining them in public schools for the next academic year. If the applicants do not commit to attending the teaching training course and its programs, they will not be retained in schools even if they are university graduates.

Nawras, a resident of the al-Rastan city, was accepted to be appointed as a substitute teacher according to the results of the recent recruitment program. Nawras said that he is supposed to be recruited as a teacher of the first category, just like many applicants with teacher training diplomas.

When Nawras and his associates protested by submitting a paper to the Ministry of Education, proving that there was no need to attend this teaching training course again, their request was categorically rejected because they are “substitute teachers under the recruitment program regardless of the educational qualification.”

The funny thing, according to Nawras, is that if the Ministry of Education agrees to exempt them from the teaching training course, there will be no course mainly because the university graduates are the most admitted in the program.


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