The reconstruction of schools and rehabilitation and training of teachers has paved the way for improvements to the education system in Raqqa.
Students at Al-Farouk School in Raqqa, Syria, have expressed their joy at returning to their school after managing to obtain textbooks and school equipment. For years, proper resources were lacking as a result of ISIS’ occupation of the city.
“We are happy to return to school especially after we received the textbooks. We will build a future for ourselves as we consider school to be the most important thing of all”, said Wa’am Sheikho, a female student at Al-Farouk School.
The academic year in Raqqa started in September following a series of successes in the realm of education. Hundreds of schools in northern Syria were damaged as a result of the military conflict in the region. Since the liberation of Raqqa by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in October 2017, the reconstruction and rehabilitation of schools have been top priorities of the newly installed political authorities in the city, who are linked to the Democratic Federation of North Syria.
Ali al-Shenar, Chairman of the Education Committee in the city of Raqqa, stated that 4,350 teachers have been rehabilitated and 317 schools have taken in around 114,000 students since the beginning of this academic year.
“The Education Committee has formed workshops for the maintenance of schools, repair of doors and windows, walls, and sanitary facilities such as toilets, in addition to the installation of fiber boards”, says Ali al-Shenar.
Rehabilitation efforts have not only focused on the restoration of infrastructure belonging to schools, but also on the eradication of the negative ideological effects of ISIS rule. Indoctrination of children was one of the most important facets of ISIS’ governance.
Local efforts for tackling the indoctrination have included implementing an educational curriculum that avoids discriminatory overtones and steers away from discourse laden with ethno-sectarian references, which was previously the case in ISIS schools and military camps.