March 18, 2014
Last week, a UNICEF report detailed sobering news: nearly half of the nation’s school-age children – 2.8 million inside and outside the country – are not attending school, including 2.3 million children inside Syria alone. As the conflict enters its fourth year, the report said, only 30 percent of children in “hardest-hit areas” such as Aleppo and Idlib provinces are in school.
Um Mahmoud is a housewife and mother living in a rebel-held area outside the regime-controlled coastal city of Latakia. Here, she tells Syria Direct’s Mohammed al Haj Ali about the challenges of assembling makeshift schools in opposition-held areas and the tragedy of seeing children pretend to attend school.
Q: What are the challenges your kids face in their education?
This year, we reopened a school with the help of the rebels after the regime destroyed all the schools in our area. Many kind people made an effort, for instance some of the families in the village offered their houses up as classrooms. But there are still some challenges such as a lack of books, heaters and teachers in addition to the shelling. Also, the school is far from where many people live.
Nearly half of Syrian children are not attending school, UNICEF said in a report. Photo courtesy of the United Nations.
Q: What do the children not going to school do during the day?
Displaced children often pretend that they are studying. You see them playing a game, some pretending to be the teacher, some pretending to be students. For older children, who should be in elementary school, [not being able to go to school] is a crime against them because many children who had some level of education have left studying to support their families instead.
Q: What repercussions does not going to school have on your children?
The repercussions are severe and the psychological effects are even more dangerous. You see kids in their games imitating going to school. The Arabic and the Islamic world have abandoned their responsibility toward the children of the revolution. It is even killing the revolution, because of the lack of education that exists amongst the children of the revolution. The international community intentionally wants to keep the children of Syria uneducated.
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