Education Changes Under Syrian Opposition (Short Version)

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November 2014
Taqad, Aleppo Province, Syria

Students in the rebel-controlled village of Taqad to the west of Aleppo no longer have to pay tribute to the Syrian regime.
In this village with a population of 11,000, public schools follow books issued by the interim government appointed by the opposition Syrian National Coalition.
The director of one the local schools says that the new curriculum “shifted from glorifying the regime to glorifying the homeland.”
References to Bath party’s ideology or the “achievements” of Presidents Bashar al-Assad and his father the late President Hafez al-Assad were omitted from the new books, which are printed in Turkey and opposition-held areas in Syria.
Schools in this little town, however, have other pressing needs to deal with. Teachers work in overcrowded classrooms and students sometimes ditch school when they hear the sound of warplanes.

Shot list

00:00 – 00:06
A medium shot shows pages from a primary-school book coming out of the printer.

00:07 - 00:20
A medium shot shows a man binding a book.

00:21 – 00:32
Interview with ِAhmad Jumaa, principal of Qaddour al-Sayyid School (Man, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

00:33 – 00:35 A medium shot shows a man binding a book.

00:36 – 00:39
A wide shot shows graffiti that reads: “He who opens a school closes a prison – Al-Urfan Organization [an Islamic social welfare organization].”

00:40 – 00:43
A wide shot shows a young boy carrying a backpack with the UNICEF logo running across the school courtyard.

00:44 – 00:46
A close-up shot shows a school girl writing.

00:47 – 00:59
Interview with Abdel Karim Subhi, a second-grade student (Boy, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

01:00 – 01:03
A close-up shot shows the face of a young student during a mathematics lesson.

01:04 – 01:07
A wide shot shows a teacher explaining a mathematics problem to a student on the blackboard.

01:08 – 01:32
Several shots show books being printed.

01:33 – 01:30
A close-up shot shows the covers of books produced by the Syrian interim government.

01:31 – 01:46
Interview with a primary school teacher (Man, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

01:47 – 01:53
A wide shot shows a second-grade science class in session. The teacher asks: “Who can name an animal that could fly?”

01:54 – 02:02
A medium shot shows a second-grade student answering a grammar question.

02:03 – 02:07
A close-up shot shows the hands of two students writing.

02:08 – 02:20
Interview with Rama Humaida, a seventh-grade student (Girl, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

02:21 – 02:26
A wide shot shows a teacher writing on the blackboard from behind as students follow.

02:27 – 02:44
Interview with Abdullah Jumaa, a local teacher (Man, Arabic)/ interview transcript below

02:45 – 02:49
A close-up shot shows a page of a book issued by the Syrian regime that explains the history of the 1970 Corrective Movement, the coup d’état carried out by the Baath Party.

02:50 – 02:54
A close-up shot shows a page of a book issued by the Syrian regime that explains when President Bashar al-Assad came to power and praises Syria’s policies.

02:55 – 03:01
A close-up shot shows the covers of books produced by the Syrian interim government.

03:02 – 03:10
A wide shot shows a demolished school wall.

Interviews

00:21 – 00:32
Interview with Ahmad Jumaa, principal of Qaddour al-Sayyid School (Man. Arabic)

“I am the principal of Qaddour al-Sayyid School. The provisional Syrian government gave us schoolbooks. Some books were missing, though, and we had to print them locally.

00:47 – 00:59
Interview with Abdel Karim Subhi, a second-grade student (Boy, Arabic)

“I am eight years old. Whenever airplanes are flying, my siblings and I do not come. We wait for them to end their raids so we come to school.”

01:31 – 01:46
Interview with a primary school teacher (Man, Arabic)

“Despite the hard conditions we are living in and continuous airstrikes, we started the new academic year.”

02:08 – 02:20
Interview with Rama Humaida, a seventh-grade student (Girl, Arabic)

“My siblings and I come from a middle-class family, and we come to school every day to learn. My favorite subject is religion, and I wish to be a religion instructor in the future.”

02:27 – 02:44
Interview with Abdullah Jumaa, a local teacher (Man, Arabic)

“Books were amended to suit the current situation. All the content that glorifies [President] Bashar al-Assad and his were removed. The new books shifted from the glorification of the regime to the glorification of the entire homeland. Certain passages were omitted and other ones that suit the current phase were kept.