National Center for the Distinguished Is a Breeding Ground for Excellence, Innovation

The Syrian government spares no efforts as to develop means of upgrading the performance of distinction programs to boost this culture among students around the country. Fostering academically distinguished students is a duty and deepening the culture of distinction and finding up means for discovering outstanding students could be achieved through ensuring suitable atmosphere for their creativity in all fields.

 The National Center for the Distinguished (NCD) in Lattakia province is one of Syria's remarkable achievements aiming at creating a national innovative manpower that would contribute to supporting the country's development process in all spheres.

''The NCD is meant to be a breeding ground for excellence and innovation. It aims at attracting youths with inventive potentials and providing them with special care and support so they can contribute to the process of building the Syrian society," Dr. Iskandar Muneef, Director of the NCD, said in an interview with Syriatimes e- newspaper.

Dr. Muneef clarified that the NCD's headquarter was originally established in Homs province in 2008, but, because of the crisis in the country and events in Homs, the center's activities were badly affected which necessitated the relocation of the center to safer place. Thus, Tishreen University in Lattakia provided an alternative place for the NCD, embraced it and equipped it with all requirements.

According to Dr. Muneef, the NCD accepts excelled students (75 students from all Syrian provinces every year) who have finished their basic education and who want to join the NCD. The students have to pass intelligence and knowledge tests as well as personal interviews. The accepted ones get free three-year learning at the center in addition to a monthly financial grant and every needed support as to be prepared to become real partners in building the country.

Graduates from the NCD complete their higher education according to certain programs opened for them at the Syrian universities and higher institutes within the framework of internal scholarships. The most excelled graduates get scholarships to complete their studies in universities abroad.

Promising skills

He pointed out that the NCD continues to supply the Syrian society with distinguished creative youths who are capable of coping with vast scientific development as to meet the homeland's need of skilled and excelled cadres.

Dr. Muneef indicated that the NCD has sought to groom competent cadres in a climate conducive to innovation and excellence, striving to enhance promising skills in order to allow the youth to bring their capabilities and potentials into play.

He affirmed that the NCD aims at developing the students' talents and capabilities in the research and knowledge fields as well as enhancing their national  loyalty within the framework of building up an integrated personality that contributes to developing and protecting the homeland.

According to Dr. Muneef, the center is keen on offering scientific care to the distinguished students through adopting special curriculum and enhancing contacts with other research and educational establishments to promote the students' skills of scientific research, discovery and innovation.

Concerning the education process of the NCD, Dr. Muneef said "it is based on the principles of openness as well as development and modernization which are basically based on scientific research that urges inventive ability." The center adopts special curriculum under the supervision of specialized committees from the Ministry of Education, the Syrian universities as well as experts from Arab and world research centers, he added, noting that the curriculum concentrates on scientific applications and research activities by using the technology of up-to-date curriculum and electronic learning.

The NCD benefits from the experience of world and international centers in caring for the distinguished and enhancing their innovative and scientific skills and capabilities, Dr. Muneef said.

He affirmed that the center managed to settle some modern technology and its students took part in the competitions of the Syrian Scientific Olympiad where they got international awards for their distinguished results.

International Belarusian-Syrian Session for Gifted Children

Within the framework of enhancing the joint Belarusian-Syrian cooperation and coordination, the Belarusian ambassador for Syria paid a visit to the NCD where he stressed the need to enhance contacts in all domains, particularly education.

Dr. Muneef talked  to Syriatimes about NCD's recent participation in the International Belarusian-Syrian Session for Gifted Children ( the Children's Winter Camp) held on January 15-29 in the city of Zubrenok in Belarus, stressing the importance of such camps in enhancing the physical and mental abilities of children through various school activities, in briefing children on the education systems as well as the scientific and cultural achievements in Belarus and in boosting bilateral relations between the two countries.

He made it clear that the event was carried out by the International Children's Educational and Health Center in Zubrenok, indicating that 144 Syrian school children and 100 counterparts from Belarus took part in the winter children camp.Activities and competitions within the session were carried out in four domains including robotics as well the intellectual, creative and sport fields, he said.

He pointed out that the recreation program also included health and entertainment events, besides excursion programs aiming at getting participants acquainted with the Belarusian traditions, culture and achievements.

''The camp conveyed a massage that despite the war waged on Syria, attention has been paid to children, who by their determination and intelligence raised the Syrian flag in the international circles'' Dr. Muneef said.

He thanked President Bashar Al-Assad and the First lady, Mrs. Asma Al-Assad for their keenness on following up the activities of the NCD, urging the center's students to build bridges and continue to obtain knowledge to participate in building Syria's future.

For their part, the two "super students" Ghaffar Daher and Mas'oud Haider, who took part in the international Belarusian-Syrian Session for GiftedChildren and won the first positions in mathematics and informatics competitions, expressed their pride in the success they had achieved despite the difficult circumstances in their beloved country, and in representing Syria in world and international activities as well as benefitting from other countries' experiences.

They stressed that the center's students are determined to accomplish the goals they have set in their hearts and minds spurred by their sense of responsibility in serving the homeland.

They expressed their hope that the success of the students would be of good start for further excelling in their future.They vowed working hard with complete responsibility to achieve more success that serves the homeland's development, highly appreciating efforts exerted by the NCD to support them and enhance their skills and capabilities.

Interviewed by Rawaa Ghanam