January 10, 2016
Despite shelling and barrel bomb attacks, students and volunteer instructors are still showing up at al-Risala school in the rebel held Hanano area in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria.
With no or little resources, the teachers are trying to give students a basic education in the absence of a school curriculum in areas controlled by the Syrian opposition.
The school is located in a district which has been targeted in shelling and airstrikes. “The students and teachers are in danger, the building might be heavily damaged or even destroyed at any moment” says Ibrahim al-Ali, the school principal. “We have no choice but to keep operating at high risk. This is the situation in almost all schools in rebel held Aleppo”.
“The number of students is good, but we are short of instructors. Teachers are not available. Q: What are your main needs other than for teachers?
A: We actually need everything.. The school building needs restoration, the students have not received backpacks, the teachers have no support.. There’s a lack of everything.”
Abu Hassan, Teacher:
“I am the science teacher, I try my best to improve the scientific skills of the students whether in math or physics or chemistry. Q: How do you describe the student comprehension abilities?
A: Starting directly with the curriculum in books is impossible because the students did not have the chance to learn the basics. It’s been like a month since we started teaching them the basics, the simple operations such as addition and subtraction. Introduction to physics and introduction to chemistry, we are only teaching them the basics that they missed for now.”
“We are here in al-Risala School, in Hanano area.. We have few teachers, a teacher of mathematics and a teacher of religious education.. We have no other teachers, however they are trying to teach us the basics so we can understand the actual curriculum. I hope that Syria will be a safe and secure place again especially in Aleppo because Bachar al-Assad targets us with barrel bombs and has destroyed all areas of Aleppo. Even our instructors had to flee because of the massive shelling.”
Q: Did you see any fighter jets striking?
A: We’ve seen a lot, and barrel bombs are dropped over our heads.”
“We have no books but they told us that they would bring us some. We came here to study but we have shortage of teachers. The teacher is trying his best to teach us. When winter comes we have no heaters and the windows are all damaged and we have no means to replace them. Every time we go out for recess helicopters come so they bring us back inside out of fear.”
Ibrahim al-Ali, School Principal:
“We are educating the students despite the lack of an educational system. Almost all teachers are volunteers. Some are university graduates, others have just graduated from school. They are all doing volunteer work with nothing in return. The condition of the school is miserable. The building needs restoration, electricity and water repairs. We face a persistent cut of electricity which is affecting the lighting in class rooms. We also need water tanks to store water. We are also expecting the problems which we went through last year such as lack of heaters and the windows destroyed because of the constant shelling and barrel bombs by the regime.”