Rebuilding an Educational Future for Marginalized Communities in Syria

Speeches Shim

Thursday, September 9, 2021
Rehabilitated School
Recently rehabilitated primary school in Hasakah governorate, northeast Syria.
Credit: USAID

Damaged School
The primary school before rehabilitation by USAID. Years of neglect and conflict left this school and others in disrepair.
Credit: USAID

Damaged Classroom
The inside of a school classroom before rehabilitation.
Credit: USAID

Rehabilitated Classroom
Newly rehabilitated classroom at the primary school.
Credit: USAID

Children in rehabbed Yazidi school
Students sit in their classroom at the rehabilitated community school. “The schools are the center of Yazidi society—it’s where the newest generation meet their future,” said one of the school's teachers.
Credit: USAID

Primary school teachers in Syria’s Hasakah governorate have a difficult job. Many of their schools serve a Yazidi community near the Syria-Turkey border where residents have endured marginalization and a decade of conflict. In this environment, schools were challenging places to teach and learn.  

“There were so many problems,” said Aya*, a primary school teacher in the region for the past four years. “Chairs were in disrepair, the roof leaked, and the windows were broken and didn’t protect the students from the cold.” 

These primary schools in the Hasakah governorate serve northeast Syria’s largest Yazidi community. The years of neglect and conflict left schools in disarray—without bathrooms, electricity, heat, or educational materials. Without resources to rehabilitate the schools, children were left with limited educational opportunities.

“[The conditions] affected the number of students, causing some not to attend, and it also was a psychological burden on the teachers,” said Mustafa Abdulkarim*, the primary school principal.

Recognizing the importance of education and the critical role schools play in building community ties, USAID worked with local education officials and a civil society organization to restore the school and three other primary schools in Hasakah. 

Before repairs could begin, workers had to clear out years’ worth of debris that accumulated in the schoolyards. Teams then repaired the schools’ roofs, installed new windows and lighting, rebuilt bathrooms, and repaired the heating systems. Classrooms were also completed with new equipment, including desks, chairs, and whiteboards.

The rehabilitated schools have energized teachers and students, and are already making a difference. 

“The schools are the center of Yazidi society—it’s where the newest generation meet their future,” reflected Ahmed,*one of the primary school teachers.

The school rehabilitations have raised hope in the community.

“The students feel valued,” Principal Abdulkarim attested. 

“It [the school rehabilitation] has been hugely important for us,” said Nawaf Seyyam,* who works with  a local Yazidi civil society organization. “To get this kind of change in our society—it has been a 180 degree turn for Yazidis [living in Northeast Syria].” 

The four rehabilitated schools are part of a broader effort by USAID to repair damaged schools in northeast Syria, so that children have safe spaces to learn in their communities. In the coming school year, more than 1,000 children, including more than 150 Yazidi children, will be attending schools fully rehabilitated by USAID. 


*Names changed

Last updated: September 16, 2021

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