Education sector in Syria withstood the foreign-backed terrorist war and now confronting coronavirus

After nine years of fighting against takfiri terrorism and western sanctions that affected all walks of life in Syria, the Syrians are now facing yet a different kind of war. It is the battle against coronavirus, the ambiguous pandemic threatening the entire world.

 The Syrian government has taken precautionary measures including the closure of schools, colleges and all public facilities, to prevent coronavirus, which is also known as covid 19, from spreading in the country. Later measures included closing all markets, stopping public transportation, keeping work at the minimum level at institutions and imposing partial curfew to avoid crowds and limit contacts among individuals. Wide-scale sterilization campaigns have also been launched everywhere to combat the virus.

Like other state's sectors, education has its share of these precautionary measures. In one of the schools in al-Tadamun neighborhood in Damascus, a voluntary cleanup and sterilization campaign was launched by the school's staff including the principal and the teachers to disinfect all parts of the school in preparation for the safe return of the students after the threat of the killer disease is completely eliminated.

"Before the government's closure decision, we used to explain to the students, through the health and psychological educators at the school, the nature of this virus, how it spreads and what they must do to avoid infection," Mrs. Rawda al-Shini, the principal of Martyr "Hayel Abdalla" school for basic education in Damascus told Syriatimes e-newspaper.

 The school is affiliated to the Education Directorate of Quneitra province.

 The Syrians should cooperate to defeat coronavirus as they defeated terrorism

"Some members of the school's teaching and administrative staff and I took the initiative and started cleaning and sterilizing the school with the support of the Quneitra Education Directorate which provided us with necessary detergents, sterilizers and masks," she added.

"The students are like our children and it is our responsibility and duty to protect them against illnesses or any kind of danger," said the principal, an energetic Syrian woman with a high sense of responsibility and patriotism, calling on the Syrians to keep steadfast and to cooperate in order to defeat coronavirus as they defeated terrorism.

The Syrians believe in knowledge and education as a weapon against ignorance 

Talking about the foreign-backed takfiri terrorist war on Syria and how the education sector managed to withstand the difficult circumstances and continued the education process, Mrs. Rawda said "the Syrians are vivid people who believe in knowledge and education as a weapon against ignorance  and who don't surrender to despair. Education was a major target of terrorism in Syria. Many schools were destroyed or damaged because of terrorism, keeping tens of thousands of children out of school which was actually a real challenge that faced the education sector in our country. However, the successive victories that have been achieved by the Syrian Arab army in the fight against terrorism in different part of the country plus the government's continuous support and urgent solutions have helped the education process continue".

"Among other challenges that faced the education process was the terrorists' random mortar attacks and sniper fire on residential neighborhoods, yet these attacks couldn't stop the education process or prevent the teachers and students from coming to school to provide education to as many students as possible without discrimination," Mrs. Rawda added, pointing out that the psychological support for both teachers and students was very necessary in that stage to overcome obstacles and achieve the noble message of teaching.

Overcrowded classrooms

"Many families, who were displaced from their areas because of terrorism, resided in al-Tadamun neighborhood and some of them enrolled their children in our school causing overcrowding  in the classrooms- nearly 60 students in each- but we had to respond positively to this issue in order to compensate those children for the lessons they missed," Mrs. Rawda went on to say, pointing out that "some of the students we accepted in the school were children of gunmen, whose wives fled the areas held by those gunmen to government-controlled areas.

Students' psychological condition

 On the psychological condition of students during events, she said "every child has had a sad story to tell during the war. Some children saw their fathers being killed by terrorists. Some others were displaced or they lost their fathers or mothers in the war and some others have their parents kidnapped or missing, not to mention the divorce cases that have been very harmful to the psychological condition of children. Our duty in the school has been to work as a family to provide tenderness and psychological support for the students in order to make them feel safe and loved," she said, hailing the key role played by the school's psychological educator in this regard.

"We were keen on promoting amity, solidarity and cooperation among the students regardless of their being children of martyrs, of displaced families or of gunmen. We were also keen to enhance the children's love to their homeland and army through explaining to them what was happening in their beloved Syria and highlighting the sacrifices offered by the Syrian Arab army to protect the homeland and citizens and to restore security and normal life countrywide," the principal made it clear. She pointed out that special focus was put on explaining the reality of Islam as a religion of peace amity and tolerance, not the a religion of killing and radical thinking like that of Daesh and Moslem Brotherhood terrorist organizations.

On the situation of martyrs' children at the school, Mrs. Rawda said "we have some 40 students who are children of martyrs from the Syrian army, backup forces and civilian families. The school has held several activities to honor those children so that they feel proud of their fathers and know the value of martyrdom in defense of the homeland."

Interviewed by: Hamda Mustafa

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