Turkey supervises exams in Euphrates Shield area in absence of Syrian Interim Government
In the middle of last June, the secondary and high school exams started in the exam centers of the Syrian Interim Government's Directory of Education in the Aleppo governorate, Northern Syria, coinciding with the exams held by the educational offices of the local councils of the Northern Aleppo countryside. For the first time, the Turkish Directorate of Education supervised the exams.
This year, the students of secondary and high schools submitted to the Syrian Interim Government and local councils' exams, which Turkey supervised, hoping to obtain internationally-recognized certificates.
The Interim Government's exam centers are well-presented in the Aleppo countryside, but ill-presented in the Euphrates Shield area:
SMART met with the Minister of Education in the Syrian Interim Government, Imad Barq, who confirmed that the certificates issued by the Interim Government are recognized by most countries, especially the countries of the European Union. Barq said that all the Turkish universities would accept the students who hold these certificates, after the students equated their certificates in the Turkish directorates of education.
Barq added that the high school graduates who equated their certificates in Turkey are entitled to apply at any European Union university, especially after the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) oversaw the 2017 exams and issued a report recommending granting recognition to the Interim Government's certificates.
Barq said that the Interim Government organized this year's exams in the six Syrian governorates of Aleppo, Idlib, Lattakia, Hama, Daraa and Quneitra, and they also held exams for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan through the ministry's offices in the two countries.
Barq added that 1,967 students submitted high school exams this year, 697 students in the science sector and 1,270 in the humanities sector, in addition to 28 students in the Sharia sector. 2,970 students submitted basic education exams.
Regarding the exam centers, Barq said that the ministry established centers in all the areas of the Aleppo countryside, especially in Western Aleppo, and only three centers in the Euphrates Shield areas of the Eastern and Northern Aleppo countryside, one for the high school exams and the other two for the basic education exams. The other centers in the Euphrates Shield areas follow the educational offices of the local councils, and are supervised by the Turkish government.
Barq also said that the students in the Interim Government's centers submitted exams based on the curricula approved by the Interim Government, while the Turkish Ministry of Education supervised the exams in the local councils' centers.
Barq referred to the security challenges that face the ministry in several areas due to the Russian and loyalist forces' continuous bombings, which target schools and educational centers, especially in the Southern Aleppo countryside, saying that despite the bombings, the ministry continues to hold the basic education and high school exams in the areas outside the loyalist forces' control.
In May, the Free Aleppo Directorate of Education permanently suspended the support given to the educational compounds of the al-Hos and Tall Daman areas, saying that it is no longer possible to support them as separate compounds.
Mujib Khattab, the head secretary of the free Aleppo Directorate of Education, reported that the only possible solution to support the two compounds is to cut the salaries of the compounds' administration board members, and include the teachers and students in the support plans of other educational compounds in the areas they were displaced to. The suspension of support is a result of the schools in the two compounds’ location in areas belonging to other supported compounds in the Idlib Governorate.
Turkey supervises exams in the Euphrates Shield areas:
Turkey supervises several aspects in the areas under the Euphrates Shield factions' control in Eastern and Northern Aleppo. Most distinguished of these aspects is the educational process. For the first time, the Turkish Directorate of Education supervised the high school exams in the area, promising the students that the certificates they obtain will be recognized by most countries in the world, except in the Syrian government forces-controlled areas.
Nouri al-Sayyed, the deputy head of the Azaz local council's educational office, reported that the certificates will bear the stamp of the Turkish Ministry of Education, and that all students that hold the certificates will be entitled to apply to Turkish universities after they pass the Turkish YOS exams. The YOS exam is an entrance examination in Turkish language designed for foreign students wishing to study in higher education institutions in Turkey.
Mohammad Hamdan Kinno, the head of the Azaz local council's educational office, said that 330 students submitted to the high school exams in Azaz.
Kinno added that the exams were designed by specialized and well-qualified teachers and supervised by administrative employees.
Kinno also said that there is no coordination with the Syrian Interim Government in a direct manner, but the Azaz local council acknowledges the certificates issued by the Interim Government and employs its graduates. Kinno added that the students who pass the local council's exams will be able to apply for the Interim Government's universities and the Turkish universities and their branches in the cities of al-Bab and Jarabulus.
Mustafa al-Jasem, the head of education in the Jarabulus local council, said that the council announced as of this academic year, all exams will be held in coordination with the Turkish government, adding that the educational directorates of the Turkish Gaziantep and Kilis provinces will supervise the exams.
Al-Jasem added that 352 students submitted to the high school exams in Jarabulus, in addition to 10 students who applied for the supplement exams, which were already prepared for emergency cases.
Al-Jasem said that the Turkish Gaziantep University intends to open a branch in Jarabulus, adding that the Jarabulus local council does not coordinate directly with the Syrian Interim Governerate, but via the Turkish government.
In the city of al-Bab, the Head of the Educational Office, Fawzi al-Sayeh, said that 500 students submitted to the high school and basic education exams in al-Bab, in accordance with the curriculum approved by the Interim Government. Al-Sayeh confirmed that the students who pass the exams will be entitled to apply to all Turkish universities, and 56 Turkish universities intend to receive students who hold the Interim Government certificates. Al-Sayeh also said that the Turkish Harran University will open a branch in al-Bab at the beginning of next year.
The construction works to build the Harran University branch in al-Bab started about two months ago. The university will teach mathematics, physics, chemistry, science and engineering, while other fields, such as economics, media, education and business administration, will be established in the coming two years. It is estimated that the university will receive 500 students in the first year. The al-Bab local council also signed a memo of understanding with the Turkish Basaksehir Private University to open six faculties in the city.
For the first time in al-Bab, the local council, in attendance of Turgay Argin, the deputy governor of the Turkish Gaziantep province, distributed special Euphrates Shield school certificates to 28,000 students from different grades. The new certificates bear the flag of the Syrian revolution, the Turkish national flag and the words "Euphrates Shield" in Turkish and Arabic, in addition to a verse from the Holy Quran written in Turkish and Arabic.
Al-Sayeh said that all the parties in the area agreed on starting a new era that will restore the important status of the education process, after it stopped for several years due to the loyalist forces' bombings on schools and the ignorance-enforcing policy imposed by the Islamic State during its control over the area.
In recent years, the educational process in Syria significantly declined due to the bombings by the loyalist forces and their allies on schools and educational centers, in addition to mass displacements, which prevented millions of students from continuing their education. Several parties and individuals made great efforts to restore the educational process and ease the outcomes of war on the students.