School destruction, government neglect affect education in Daraa

Primary school students in the western countryside of Daraa - March 9, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Halim Mohamad)

Primary school students in the western countryside of Daraa - March 9, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Halim Mohamad)


Daraa – Halim Muhammad

Difficulties impede the educational process in the southern city of Daraa, most notably the decrease in the number of schools and the destruction of a large part of them during the long years of war.

This led to increased pressure on the schools in the city, as the number of students per class increased to more than 40 students as some regions tended to implement two shifts, morning and evening, as a temporary measure.

Schools are destroyed

Since 2011, regime forces have targeted most of Daraa al-Balad’s schools with air and artillery, and the infrastructure, in general, has been destroyed.

After the security settlement of July 2018 with the opposition fighters, the government of the regime did not resort to a complete restoration of the schools, but the organizations operating in Daraa resorted to a partial restoration, according to a member of the Local Committee concerned with the restoration of schools in the city of Daraa al-Balad, whose name was withheld for security reasons.

He said that 16 out of 26 schools throughout the city of Daraa al-Balad can receive students or follow the educational course.

Temporary solutions

The students of the ten completely destroyed schools went to study in the renovated schools, which caused pressure on the classrooms, in addition to a great effort on the shoulders of the teachers to convey the information, according to the member of the committee.

He said that some schools have imposed an evening shift, but it is not feasible due to the lack of sufficient teaching staff, which is a temporary solution imposed by the current reality.

The member of the committee believes that the restoration of schools is the responsibility of international organizations or the Directorate of Education in Daraa, in addition to providing them with teaching staff, which is considered a reason for the failure of the educational process, as low wages and expensive transportation prompted teachers to leave the teaching job.

Hiyam, 38, is a teacher in one of the schools in the city of Daraa al-Balad. Her suffering is summed up in the large number of students in the classroom, as the teacher is unable to convey the information or the essence of the lesson and achieve interaction during the lesson, according to what she told Enab Baladi.

Pressures on schools prompted some parents to send their children to receive private lessons, especially in light of the decreasing number of teachers, as teaching has become a difficult profession, according to Hiyam.

Tariq al-Sad neighborhood

The Tariq al-Sad neighborhood in Daraa al-Balad has received the largest share of destruction, as there is only one primary school left that serves this neighborhood.

Haitham, a resident of the neighborhood, told Enab Baladi that the nearest school is four kilometers away from the neighborhood, while some students are forced to cross Wadi al-Zaidi to reach Abbasiya School, west of Daraa al-Balad.

He added that some families decided not to send their children to schools, especially the girls, because there are no schools within the neighborhood.

Schools in the Tariq al-Sad neighborhood have witnessed great destruction since 2011, and the schools were repeatedly damaged during the regime’s attempts to re-storm the city in July 2021.

The neighborhood was not spared in the most recent battles that it witnessed in November 2022 as well, between local groups and cells accused of belonging to the Islamic State, as the only school was subjected to the theft of electric cables and some of its contents, which were purchased at the expense of the residents, according to Haitham.

Manhal Nazzal al-Amarin, director of Daraa Education, told the state-run al-Thawra newspaper that in 2020, the Department of Planning and Statistics of the Daraa Education Directorate showed that the total number of schools in the province was 947, including 111 completely destroyed, and 363 partially destroyed.

Expensive alternatives

Concerning alternatives for residents in securing schools for students, Haitham said that the idea of studying within the schools of Daraa al-Mahatta (the center of the governorate) is possible, but it is only available to families who are financially affluent, as the fare for a student’s transportation to this school is 2,000 pounds, back and forth, which is beyond the reach of most families.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated in January 2022 that the number of children deprived of education in Syria during the past ten years is more than two million.

There are more than 2.4 million children dropped out of school, about 40% of whom are girls, according to a UN statement, which indicated that the number had risen due to the impact of Covid-19 that exacerbated the disruption of education in Syria.



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