September marked the beginning of the school year in Syria. With the country’s conflict seemingly winding down and fighting focused in a few regions, many Syrians across the country have taken the opportunity to return educational institutions to working order and provide their children with what learning they can. While educational developments in some parts of Syria have been promising, other parts continue to suffer from scarcities and lack of support that impede good education. The village of Kafr Laha in the Homs Province is one such place.
Kafr Laha is located in the northern Homs countryside, wedged between the towns of Houla and Tal Dhahab in the last rebel pocket in the region known as the “Rastan Pocket.” Although one of the calmer rebel-held regions in Syria, the Rastan pocket has nevertheless witnessed sporadic shelling and clashes. Surrounded by government forces, the entry of aid into the region has been severely restricted.
The education sector has been hit particularly hard. The village has one main school and some other field schools. However, all of these have run without support for the past four or five years. The building is in need of maintenance, the books, many of which were printed when the Syrian Government still ran the facilities here, are worn out and the teachers have not received any salaries.
Activists and educators in Kafr Laha have called on the Opposition’s Syrian Interim Government for support. They say that the Interim Government has been able to provide support to other sectors such as agriculture in the region, but schools have received nothing. They also say that the Ministry of Education of the Interim Government has made promises but these promises have yet to be fulfilled.
There is no doubt that the political situation in the region and the siege is making things difficult. The Syrian Interim Government is still seated in the Turkish city of Istanbul and it has only recently shown signs of gaining political control of rebel-held north Aleppo. It therefore remains to be seen if it is capable of providing for schools in a besieged region of Syria, far from any borders.