How does the education system work in the areas of Idlib and its environs in northwest Syria? Officially, education in these areas is overseen by the Education and Teaching Ministry of the Salvation Government, which is backed by Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham. Have the curricula changed substantially? What are the main problems facing education in the areas of Idlib and its environs?
To learn more about the issue of education in these areas, I conducted an interview with a source involved in education in the Jabal al-Summaq area of north Idlib countryside. The source requested anonymity as regards to his name, his precise location in the area and his precise role in education. This interview was conducted on 26 April 2021.
Q: What is the number of students in your school? And are most of the students from IDPs?
A: The number of students is around 100 between first and second session. The proportion of IDPs is around 30%.
Q: Is the school private or affiliated with the Education Ministry in the Salvation Government?
A: Affiliated with the ministry.
Q: What are the subjects that are taught in the school? And how have the curricula changed during the past years?
A: Arabic language, mathematics, English language, sciences, religion and physical education are taught. With regards to the content of the curricula, it has remained as it was before the revolution with some simple changes.
Q: What are the simple changes exactly? For example has the teaching of music been banned?
A: The simple changes: if there is some thought supporting the regime, it has been deleted. Music is not taught.
Q: Likewise so-called patriotic education is not taught?
A: Yes, it has been cancelled along with philosophy.
Q: Yes right. But most of the books are the same books that are taught in the schools of the regime? For example maths and English language, or have new books been issued by the Education Ministry affiliated with Salvation Government?
A: The same content as the regime books, with some of the changes that I have mentioned previously, because putting in place a new curriculum is not an easy matter.
Q: Yes. The teachers and cadres receive salaries from the Salvation Government currently?
A: Most of the cadres work voluntarily except some of the schools that are supported by some of the NGOs.
Q: So do you receive a salary from an NGO?
A: I do not receive a salary, as I am not working currently. Our schools have stopped operating because of the presence of IDPs in the schools.
Q: Is the school particular to boys or girls? Is mixing allowed?
A: Because of the small number of students, mixing has been allowed.
Q: When did work in the school stop approximately?
A: Since the beginning of the current school year.
Q: I see. So how do you try to teach the students amid the presence of IDPs in the school?
A: We do not teach in the schools of the village. We teach in the schools of a neighbouring village called [redacted].
Q: In summary what are the most important problems with regards to education in the region?
A: The most important of them is the closure of some of the schools because of the presence of IDPs and the lack of sufficiently trained cadres to undertake the process of teaching and the lack of presence of a supporter for the cadres present in this year.