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Syrian children outside their destroyed school in Idlib Syrian children outside their destroyed school in Idlib  (AFP or licensors)

Syria: conflict robbing children of their education

As well as causing death, injury, displacement destruction and fear, a year of intense fighting in Syria’s northwest province has put education, and the future, of one and a half million children under severe attack.

By Linda Bordoni

The international charity “Save the Children” has revealed that more than half the schools in Idlib - 570 out of 1,062 - are damaged, destroyed or in areas too dangerous for children to access. Another 74 schools are currently used as shelters for families fleeing the conflict.

In a report released this week, it notes that for all children to attend school, each functioning classroom in Idlib would need to accommodate 240 students. 

Education under attack

On 25 February 2020, eight schools and two kindergartens were hit by attacks, the highest number in a single day in Idlib since the beginning of 2019. Most of these bombings took place during classes.

In response to the danger for their children, parents have requested that certain areas be off-limits because they are afraid of attracting more violence. Instead, they are asking that classes be held in hidden places, such as caves and basements, or in mobile structures that are more difficult to strike.

The normalization of violence

Save the Children notes that the concept of "child safety" in Syria has been forgotten and the normalisation of violence has become a daily reality for children, “who do not understand how most of their peers in other countries experience daily life or their days at school.”

Schools in buses

To stop the conflict robbing children of their education, Save the Children and its partner organizations have turned four buses into brightly painted mobile classrooms, bringing school to some 575,000 displaced children.

The mobile classrooms teach basic subjects such as Arabic and maths, provide structured emotional and psychosocial support and offer activities to help the children recover from their traumatic experiences. Each mobile school supports about 80 children at a time.

The escalation of violence in Idlib province has caused hundreds of thousands to flee increasingly inhumane conditions. In the first two months of 2020, at least 30 children were killed and over 550,000 people were displaced.

“All this,” Save the Children says, “is forcing children to live under the constant threat of violence.”

18 March 2020, 16:24