Sun 12 Jul 2020

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No more “exceptionally” admitted students in Syrian private schools 

Elaf private school in a destroyed area in Damascus- 2019 ( School page on Facebook)

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It is no longer allowed to increase the number of students “exceptionally” admitted to private schools in Syria, leading many parents, whose children who were left without seats, to enroll them in public ones. A move that resulted into overcrowded classrooms. 

Through its official page on “Facebook”, the Ministry of Education in the Syrian regime’s government announced the cancellation of a mandate which permits educations directorates to exceed the allowed number of students in classrooms by five students only. The announcement stressed the cancellation of all ministerial exceptions issued in 2019 concerning the admission of additional pupils and students in these schools beyond the permitted number. 

The Ministry reaffirmed in a decision issued on 16 of last May, “the necessity” of admitting students whose expectations were canceled in private schools and enroll them in the public ones instead based on their grates and academic levels. 

Ahmed Tayyar, an English teacher, commented on the ministry’s decision in the elaboration of its details, and said that each private school has a fixed number of students allowed to be admitted during the academic year. He explained that each student takes about one square meter, and based on this private schools are not allowed to exceed the permitted number of students, under what is called “exceeding school’s capacity to accommodate pupils.”

Accordingly, students included in 2019 ministerial exception, have the choice of enrolling in private schools, under the condition of being admitted within the allowed limits, or pursue their studies in public schools. 

Such a decision was reflected by an increase in tuition fees in private schools to compensate their losses, according to Manal Muhammad who commented on the decision. She added that the solution would be to increase the number of students slightly in private educational institutions and oblige them to reduce fees in case they were increased or by reducing the number of pupils in public schools’ classrooms, pointing out that most parents resort to private schools because of huge numbers of students in public ones. 

Nour Muhammad, who resides in Aleppo, chose to educate both of her children in a private school due to the poor conditions in public schools, as she put it. She added that “the security situation is poor too, while the way the new generation is being raised is totally different.”

Nour told Enab Baladi that her children’s school administration office has raised tuition fees during the second semester by 25 thousand Syrian Pounds (USD 13) for each kid.  

Despite the suspension of all classes in Syrian due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the administration did not refund the rest of the payment of the second semester to parents, while asking those who did not pay their children’s fees to do so and threatening them by not sending their children’s files to the ministry of education, therefore failing them at school in case their did not fulfill their financial obligations. 

Each semester, Nour pays SYP 275 thousand (USD 143.6) for her second-grade daughter’s tuition fees, while she pays SYP 125 thousand (USD 65.27) for her first-grade son after fees were increased and after a discount allocated to her family by the school principal who knows the family in person.  

According to Nour, tuition fees have overburdened the family financially; however, “to be honest”, she said, the school takes care of its students while female teachers follow up on students’ learning with the help their parents through “WhatsApp” on a daily basis. 

Nour explained that these fees cover some books and the school’s uniform, while she buys notebooks and stationery.  

Meantime, Nour talked about one of her relatives’ daughter who attends a public school, she said that the quality education has declined which urged her cousin to assign “a private instructor to tutor the daughter at home. 

However, she added, “not all private schools in Aleppo have a good reputation when it comes to the quality of education and following up with pupils, also high tuition fees do not necessarily reflect the quality of education.”

The Minister of Education in the Syrian regime’s government, Imad Muwaffaq al-Azab, stated on 5 last May, that the ministry has prepared a draft amendment to Legislative Decree No.55 of 2004. Al-Azab explained that the Decree governs the work of private educational institutions inside Syria, and pointed out that features and services are determined by these institutions, yet they are not permitted to increase any tuition fees without prior ministerial approval. 

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