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Kurds Announce Dual-Language Curricula in North Syria

Kurds Announce Dual-Language Curricula in North Syria

Sunday, 4 November, 2018 - 11:00
Syrian Kurds practise reading the Kurdish language at a school in Derik, Al-Hasakah. (Reuters)
Qamishli (Syria) – Kamal Sheikho

Baran, 17, looks down with deep regret on the pile of textbooks stacked in the corner of his bedroom. Despite passing last year with high grades, he was unable to join Grade 10 in 2018 after the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, commonly called Rojava, changed the secondary school curriculum.

Starting off hopeful, Baran joined the Nabeja Al-Thabiani Boys' School, in the northeastern city of Qamishli at the beginning of the 2018 school year.

A few days after buying books from the school and slapping on his name tag, a teacher walked into his classroom and told students that the Kurdish authority’s new curriculum is the only one being adopted at the moment.

“Every student who wants to continue their studies with new curriculum remains in his seat, and whoever wants to continue studying the Syrian regime’s curriculum needs to go home until further notice,” Baran said the supervisor told the class.

Since mid-September, Baran and the other 10 secondary students have been waiting for a notice in order to return to school.

“A month and a half have since passed and we are still waiting. How long should we wait?!” he exclaimed while browsing his books in an attempt to feed his hopes for returning to school soon.

Baran's father, 47, did not hide his fear for the future of his son and his classmates, saying that the new curriculum being adopted is not accredited in non-Kurdish regions.

“Why would I send my son to school when he has never been admitted into a Kurdish language program before!” he asked.

He said that most parents preferred that their children learn in regime-approved schools.

“I convinced my son, if the situation remained unchanged, I would send him to another province to complete his studies freely and take exams,” Baran’s father explained.

Samira al-Haj Ali, head of the education committee in the Jazira province, said that the 10th grade secondary students will study in books chosen independently by their school’s administration.

“We reached a dual curriculum solution that satisfies both parties,” she said when explaining that both the regime’s curriculum and the Kurdish one will be offered at high schools, but monitored by different departments.

Qamishli resident and high schooler, 17-year-old Loren said she decided to learn the Kurdish language so she could join the federation’s curriculum.

Encouraged by her mother, she said it is “nice” to learn using her native language.

“Although the certificate is not recognized, I have a desire to learn Kurdish,” she added.

“I hope all students learn using their mother tongue,” said Loren’s mother. She pointed out that the federation’s curriculum contains scientific subjects, such as mathematics, science and chemistry.

The Syrian regime refuses to recognize the northern autonomous federation established in 2014, and therefore does not accredit its education systems.

According to a regime education source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, some 52,000 students dropped out of public education between 2014 and 2016 after federation curricula were adopted.

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