Azaz: Schools staff subject to abuse, teachers strike
Enab Baladi – Aleppo countryside
Teachers in the border city of Azaz, in the northern countryside of Aleppo, organized a protest in conjunction with a one-day strike in the city’s schools and its countryside due to an assault by students’ families and armed men on the staff of two schools.
The stand was to demand an end to the attacks on the educational staff, respect for the teacher and the school campus, and the prohibition of raising weapons and using them against teachers, students, or educational staff, in a situation that was repeated in the countryside of Aleppo.
Previous appeals by teachers and parents to control weapons, which are used indiscriminately, and decisions by local authorities, factions, and military institutions to ban their use are all attempts that did not prevent or limit the carrying of weapons.
What’s the story?
Attacks targeted educational staff in two schools in the city of Azaz on March 13, followed by decisions by educational institutions to suspend school hours and organize a sit-in.
On the same day, the city’s Directorate of Education held a meeting with school principals in light of the repeated attacks on educational staff.
The outcomes of the meeting came by calling on the concerned authorities to protect schools and educational staff from attacks and to issue a circular from the judicial authorities to criminalize every person who assaults schools and offends their staff.
The Free Syrian Teachers Syndicate issued a statement, in turn, denouncing the attack on the school campus, including insults, beatings, abuse, and threats of weapons to the staff of Khaled Bin al-Walid and Abdullah Rajab schools.
The syndicate declared its support for the teaching and educational staff and demanded that the judicial, security, military, and civil authorities provide protection for the teacher in the classroom, school, and street while suspending work hours in the schools of Azaz and its countryside for one day.
Mohammad Sabah Hamidi, head of the Teachers Syndicate in the city of Azaz, told Enab Baladi that the attack in the Khaled Bin al-Walid school targeted one of the teachers, and a criminal complaint was filed against the parents of one of the students.
While the other attack was against all the staff of the Abdullah Rajab school and against employees from the Directorate of Education who came to find out the causes of the problem and the dispute.
Hamidi said the attack on the educational staff and directorate staff was carried out by a large number of people, including members of armed factions, adding that there is a “monitoring and inspection” office to resolve any dispute and receive any complaint against the teaching staff and that resorting to assaulting the teacher is an insult to him and education.
The head of Azaz Teachers Syndicate mentioned that the syndicate documented more than 25 cases of attacks by parents and armed elements on teachers and staff in schools in the countryside of Aleppo in 2022.
The syndicate previously tried to communicate with the Directorate of Education and local councils and with the existing security and military actors to put an end to these abuses, but the attacks are still continuing, according to Hamidi.
In March 2022, the city of al-Bab in the eastern countryside of Aleppo witnessed a strike in several schools in response to violations against teachers, students, and the educational institution, denouncing and rejecting security laxity, the spread of militarization, and the unsupervised carrying of arms in front of school doors.
Because of a dispute between two students at the al-Buhturi school in the city of al-Bab, a relative of one of them, who belongs to a military faction, intervened to end the dispute.
The second student, upon leaving school, was attacked and severely beaten in a “brutal” manner by eight young men. Teachers tried to aid the student, but they were also subjected to beatings and insults.
Teachers from other schools took a stand in solidarity with al-Buhturi school staff members, bringing the strike rate to 80% of the schools in the al-Bab city and its countryside at the time.
Any case of assault, clash, or fighting is accompanied by decisions to control weapons and confine it to areas of conflict and at the engagement lines, but it is still widespread.
Carrying weapons has become a widespread phenomenon in the areas controlled by the Syrian National Army (SNA) in the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo and the cities of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain in northeastern Syria.
Local residents say that any quarrel always turns into the immediate use of weapons, whether in the air to spread panic and fear or directly to cause injuries.
In April 2022, the Ministry of Defense of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG), the political umbrella of the SNA, issued a circular to control the carrying of weapons in its areas of control and to limit their presence to combat camps, front lines with the enemy, and security points, and recommended the necessity of resorting to the judiciary to resolve any dispute.
Also, the Unified Command Room (Azm), which included several factions in the SNA before its dissolution, issued a circular in April 2022, banning the carrying of weapons inside the centers of cities and towns except under an official mission for the purpose of protecting markets and securing civilians.
At the time, Azm vowed to arrest any element or group that violated orders not to roam with weapons in markets and residential areas and to refer them to “conduct committees,” pointing out that it would deal “firmly” with any armed clash between individuals or groups of the National Army.
The strikes, sit-ins, and demonstrations organized by teachers in the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo were repeated for various reasons, such as the demand not to infringe on the rights of teachers, to increase the monthly income, and to improve the reality of the educational process.
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