The education system in the Syrian northwestern province of Idlib is on the brink of collapse after years of war that have destroyed schools and left tens of thousands of students out of the classrooms.
According to opposition figures, Idlib and the Hama and Aleppo countrysides boast more than 840 schools. Some 3 million people, half of them displaced, live in these regions.
Schools have been targeted by airstrikes and they were also used in clashes between regime and opposition fighters.
Even after the regime withdrew from the region local authorities have been unable to renovate the schools.
An expert said that the vast majority of the schools lack windows, doors and seats and other basic necessities. Books are also in short supply.
Only some 100 schools have been renovated be various agencies.
Recent air raids on the region have destroyed 115 academic establishments. The displaced have also led to a sharp rise in the number of students, accounting for 40 percent of primary and 20 percent of secondary school students.
A European-British grant had in 2015 covered the salaries of teachers in schools in northern Syria outside regime control. In 2018, they received a raise of 20 dollars, bringing their salary to 120 dollars. The low wages have led to a sense of disgruntlement among the faculty, which in turn has negatively affected teaching.
The European-British grant came to a halt after four years, bringing an end to the financing of 70 percent of schools.
The halt could lead to a drop in teachers and an increased number of student drop-outs. Some 350,000 students are on the verge of missing out on school and their right to an education, which may lead to a whole lost generation of Syrians.
Officials in the education sector have therefore been pleading with humanitarian agencies in Syria and abroad to immediately resolve the crisis before it becomes worse.
Save the Children had warned that tens of thousands of children may miss the new academic year in northwestern Syria in wake of the ongoing military escalation in the region.
Relative calm had pervaded after a ceasefire was reached in August between Russia, the regime and local factions.
Out of 1,193 schools, 635 remain in service, said Save the Children. Some 353 have been damaged and evacuated due to airstrikes. More than 200 schools are used as shelters for refugees. The remaining schools can take in 300,000 out of 650,000 children.