SOHR Exclusive | Jabal Al-Sammaq area in northern Idlib suffers from poor education services • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR Exclusive | Jabal Al-Sammaq area in northern Idlib suffers from poor education services

The area of Jabal Al-Sammaq, aka Jabal Al-Muwahhidun Al-Druze (the mountain of Druze sect), in the northern countryside of Idlib is struggling with poor education and deteriorating services due to the lack of schools in that area, which forces students, specially secondary and high school students, to travel to schools in surrounding towns. Moreover, the schools of Jabal Al-Sammaq area suffer from acute shortage of supplies and low number of teachers, mostly working at these schools voluntarily, as these schools get no support from humanitarian organizations or the official authority in that region, the “Salvation Government”.

 

Jabal Al-Sammaq area has 12 villages inhabited by nearly 30,000 displaced people and indigenous residents, while there are no schools in most of these villages, although the large number of students increased greatly after thousands of people moved to that region during the recent mass civilian exodus.

 

With only seven schools in Jabal Al-Sammaq, two preparatory schools and five primaries, the residents are forced to send their children to study in schools in surrounding towns, including KafrTakharim and Armanaz, and this poses many challenges to the students and their families.

 

In a testimony to SOHR, a teacher in Jabal Al-Sammaq known by his initials as M. K. says, “the villages of Jabal Al-Sammaq are ignored by humanitarian organizations and authorities almost completely. Teachers have frequently demanded the establishment of more schools for the large number of students, but all the demands remained unheeded. The schools in that area suffer from acute shortage of basic requirements and standards. Many students are forced to travel to schools in surrounding towns, despite the bad weather in winter, the long trip and high expenses. The schools in Jabal Al-Sammaq need maintenance and rehabilitation, such as repairing doors and windows, changing the desks, renovation of toilets and providing the schools with needed educational supplies.”

 

“Most of the region’s schools get no supported by any humanitarian organizations. In addition, they are ignored by the Education Directorate of the Salvation Government, while the teachers work voluntarily and gets no salaries, although the schools in surrounding towns get a considerable support by several organizations. We called upon organizations operating in this region to provide support to these schools, so that the teachers could continue working, but to no avail. I am not satisfied with this deteriorating education services in Jabal Al-Sammaq and fear of increasing dropouts, especially with the extreme poverty of many of the region’s families who will prefer to send their sons to work than to schools,” M. K. added.

 

Another activist known as M. A., speaking to the Syrian Observatory, says, “the humanitarian organizations and the Salvation Government adopt suspicious policy regarding the distribution of support to the schools in areas under the government’s control in north-west Syria region, as educational, relieve and medical facilities are supported in specific areas, while some areas have been totally disregarded and get no support. The organizations’ support is not provided in several areas in northern and western countryside of Idlib, including Jabal Al-Sammaq area, which is inhabited mostly by civilians of Druze sect, many refugee camps and small villages. A workable solution is needed to put an end to this crisis, while support has to be distributed in the entire region without favouring one area to the others.”

 

It is worth noting that education in all schools affiliated to the “Education Directorate” in Idlib city and countryside controlled by Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham, is noticeably worsening, as most of the teachers at these schools work voluntarily, while others get food baskets and monthly salaries that do not exceed 50 USD . However, several private schools have been established recently, and they offer monthly salaries up to 250 USD to their teacher.

 

Since the first spark of the Syrian revolution, the area of Jabal Al-Sammaq, whose inhabitants are known for their hospitality, has hosted thousands of displaced people, especially during the recent mass civilian exodus in 2019 and 2020, when the area’s villages came under airstrikes by regime aircraft on several occasions.

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