Uncertain future | Four different curriculum models taught in Al-Raqqah schools
Al-Raqqah was the first province which the Syrian regime lost after the onset of the Syrian Revolution, precisely in 2013 when different factions and military formations captured the entire province then. In 2017, SDF, backed by International Coalition Forces managed to capture the province, after having defeated ISIS which announced Al-Raqqah city as the capital of the “Caliphate State” in 2014.
Like many Syrian provinces, several military formations share control of the province, where the province is currently divided into three zones of influence; they are as follows:
- Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) and International Coalition Forces administrate Al-Raqqah city centre and northern, eastern and western countryside.
- Regime forces and Iranian-backed militias are stationed in the south-western and south-eastern countryside.
- Turkish-backed factions dominate areas in the northern countryside of Al-Raqqah, such as Tel Abyad, Sluk and Hamam Al-Turkman. These areas were captured following a military operation dubbed “Peace Spring” which was launched by Turkish forces and their proxy factions in late 2019.
Because of the war, frequent battles and successive shifts of the controlling powers, the city have been badly impacted by several factors which have led to considerable deterioration at all levels, mainly education.
In this context, SOHR sources in Al-Raqqah have reported that the education of Al-Raqqah students has sharply deteriorated since 2013, especially since schools were turned by rebel factions and ISIS into military headquarters and prisons. It is worth noting that over 90 schools were put out of service, after having sustained considerable damage because of the violent military operations by Coalition Forces against ISIS during the period from 2014 and 2017.
According to the current situation, the following four curriculum models are provided in Al-Raqqah province:
- Curriculum set by the Syrian Ministry of Education: this curriculum is taught in schools in areas in the south-eastern countryside of Al-Raqqah, including Al-Sabkhah, Shuraydan, Shenan, Al-Maghallah, Al-Ghanem Al-Ali, Al-Rahba and Maadan, and in the south-western countryside, including Dabsi Faraj, Dabsi Afnan and Al-Boasi.
- Curriculum set by the Autonomous Administration: it is taught in schools in Al-Raqqah city centre and surrounding villages controlled by SDF.
- Curriculum set by the “Interim Government:” this curriculum is taught in schools in areas under the control of Turkish-backed factions operating under the banner of “Peace Spring” operations room in the northern countryside of Al-Raqqah.
- UNICEF curriculum: this curriculum is available in preparatory schools in Al-Raqqah city centre and surrounding villages controlled by SDF.
Beside the confusion of curriculum models which students in Al-Raqqah suffer from, SOHR sources have confirmed that phenomena of child labour, beggars and illiteracy have dramatically prevailed. The prevalence of such phenomena is attributed to several factors, the most prominent of is the extreme poverty, where many families have poor financial capabilities, and they are unable to secure money needed for stationeries and education expenses; let alone the uncertain future of thousands of students in light of the rampant security chaos in the province.