As Syrian schools close, children running out of options


April 6, 2014

April 6, 2014

A recent UNRWA report detailed the ‘economic catastrophe’ wrought by the Syrian conflict. If the conflict were to end today, the UN agency said, Syria’s economy would take 30 years to recover to 2010 levels.

A chunk of that devastation is measured in the years of lost schooling for an entire generation of Syrian children, half of whom UNICEF recently estimated are out of school. In hardest-hit areas like Aleppo and Idlib, only one-third of children are attending school.

A Syrian boy sitting in his destroyed school in Syria. Photo courtesy of Al Anbar News A Syrian boy sitting in his destroyed school in Syria. Photo courtesy of al-Anbar News

Um Asa’ad is a widowed mother of three in the northern Homs province town of Rustan whose oldest son, Asa’ad, left school to work and support the family after his father’s death. Here, she tells Syria Direct’s Osama Abu Zeid about why her son’s decision to drop out of school makes sense in a “war environment,” and why she believes he will never return.

Q: Many kids, including your son, have stopped attending school. Why?

Truthfully, there are many reasons. Most importantly, there are no real schools near us. Some people are teaching kids individually, but it is not a very strong education system. Also, the daily shelling and the current war environment makes teaching nearly impossible. Given the situation, it makes more sense to learn a profession that will help us with day-to-day living

Q: But does your son believe that even basic education has no value?

Yes, because it is the majority of kids who aren’t going to school, and that makes him feel very normal.

Q: What does your son do during his spare time?

He spends most of his spare time with the rebels. He is trying to get to know them better  since he wants to join them. I have forbidden him from joining and the rebels support my decision because he is still very young. He has stopped watching TV because there is no electricity and also because he consider television shows silly. The war and the current conditions have made him mature very quickly.

Q: Will they go back to school in the future? Will they be able to catch up on the lessons that they missed?

My son hasn’t been to school in over a year and a half. Though as his mother I hope that he does go back, I don’t think he will. Now that these kids have gotten used to something, it will be very hard to change it.

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