Every child left behind in the Islamic State’s new elementary schools

AMMAN: The Islamic State opened elementary schools in the eastern Deir e-Zor countryside on Monday, imposing strict regulations dictating what students wear, how teachers teach and to what grade girls are permitted to study, local teachers and opposition media reported.

Under penalty of fines or arrests, parents in the east Deir e-Zor town of Mayadin, for example, must send their children to IS-run schools in a “Pakistani style” uniform of long-sleeved shirts and trousers, reported the local media campaign Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently on Monday.

Mayadin teachers are supposed to be paid a monthly wage of 35 IS dinars, made of silver, and girls are only taught to the fourth grade, according to the Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently report.

"Jihadist Education": A sample title from the Islamic State curriculum in Iraq. Photo courtesy of Zaid Benjamin.

“I’m not quite sure what 35 IS silver dinars will get you, but I’ll tell you nobody’s laid eyes on one of those coins as of yet,” Abu Mujahid a-Shami, the head of the Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently Campaign told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

Classes are segregated by gender, beginning in the first grade, reported pro-opposition Step News Agency Monday.

One former elementary teacher from A-Raqqa tells of a colleague who earned 30 lashes for deviating from the Islamic State narrative. “He had drawn a map of Syria and written on it the names of neighboring states,” said Abu Abdullah. “According to the Islamic State, there are no other states besides theirs,” he said.

In early 2014, the Islamic State shut down schools in Deir e-Zor and A-Raqqa, including private schools, citing the corrupting influence of Baathist curricula.

Math, music, philosophy, history, French and geography were all banned.

The schools were reopened briefly, but quickly closed again for a redesign of the curricula. “The main reason given was that the education they were giving in Syrian governmental schools was incompatible with Islam and inspired apostasy,” said Abu Abdullah.

Children who grow up knowing only indoctrination and violence represent a lost generation, Abu Abdullah says.

“The worst possible fate for them is that they’ll be an uneducated generation; children have grown accustomed to the sight of guns, and some of them have probably witnessed public executions,” the former teacher says.

“Their fate is up in the air.”

Futoun Al-Sheikh

Futoun studied Spanish literature at the Damascus University. She fled Syria to Jordan during her fourth year of study in 2013. Since arriving Jordan, she has volunteered for local organizations in Jordan. She specializes in psychosocial care for refugees and families that have been exposed to violence.

Joseph Adams

Joseph was a 2013-2014 Boren Fellow in Arabic based in Amman, Jordan and is the founder of Open Syria. He holds BA and MS degrees in political science from UCLA and MIT, and is an MA degree candidate in Arabic at Middlebury College.

Ammar Hamou

Ammar Hammou is from Douma city in outer Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and left Syria in 2011.

Kristen Demilio

Kristen Gillespie Demilio has more than 10 years of experience reporting from the Middle East while based in Amman. She regularly contributed to news outlets including CBS News Radio, NPR, The Jerusalem Report and PBS and is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism as well as the Institut Français des Etudes Arabes in Damascus.