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Raqqa Teacher 'Tricked' ISIS to Get Students Some Education

Raqqa Teacher 'Tricked' ISIS to Get Students Some Education

Friday, 27 October, 2017 - 08:30
Sahar Ismail and a few students at the Jazara local school, Asharq Al-Awsat

Sahar Ismail, a mother-like tutor helping students left in disarray by war, stands tall before what is left of chalkboard at the Jazra neighborhood some 4km west of Syria’s former ISIS stronghold, Raqqa.

The school reopened a month ago after terror group ISIS having shut it down some three and a half years ago.

Sahar, 26, is a vibrant and ambitious young lady who graduated in 2011. She earned her license for education from the Damascus University. She was appointed to the Jazara local school during the summer of 2012. To her misfortune, ISIS reshaped the kickstart of her entire career.

“I was forced to join a rotation for the organization (ISIS) so that I may be allowed to teach female students within the confinement of their homes,” said Sahar.

The young tutor tells stories of how she had to trick her way into having ISIS members monitoring and surveying homes to allow her to give lessons under their reign.

“When the monitoring committee would show up, we would need to switch up the books and bring out ISIS’ self-styled curriculum—but the truth is, I was using the former public school program and pre-ISIS material,” she said.

“I had some 50 students, each of which I would warn sternly to maintain grave caution so what we were doing goes without being exposed,” she added.

Sahar stayed in Jazra neighborhood until early last June. After a wide-range operation being announced to free Raqqa, and the area her community resided in, they were all forced to flee the scene.

The offensive to drive ISIS out brought along with it a shower of rocket shelling and airstrikes.

Along with her family, Sahar escaped to a nearby farmland where they stayed for some 60 days.

After the announcement of Jazra’s liberation in mid-July, Sahar decided to return, despite the intensity of the military clashes in the city of Raqqa only a few kilometers away.

Today, after returning to teaching, Sahar expressed her happiness.

“It's a nice feeling to hold a piece of chalk and stand in front of the board again. My mission today is to educate generations and turn over a new page after war.”

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