Building the education system in Afrin - Part III

From 2011 to 2018, great steps have been taken to develop the education process in Afrin. Before the invasion of Afrin, there were 50 thousand students.

Kurdish education in the Afrin region began to be provided right after the first phase of the revolution, in 2011. 

Back then Kurdish education was actually provided by young people in houses and villages; now, seven years on, Kurdish education is a system from primary school to Rojava's first university. 

From 2011 to 2018, great steps have been taken to developed the education process in Afrin. Before the invasion of Afrin, there were 50 thousand students. 

KPC-Demokratîk explained to ANF the development and consolidation of Kurdish education in Afrin.

On 16 March 2018 Afrin was invaded. The people of Afrin had to migrate to Shehba and Shêrewa. Shortly after, they began to establish their own organizations in the camps. They worked to recover the education system implemented in the communes and councils.

KPC-Demokratîk Education Committee member, mamoste [teacher] Gulistan told ANF how they had to rebuild in Sheba the education system they had established in Afrin. 

“On 16 March we left Afrin. It was a very painful day for us. On the evening of Newroz [21 MArch], we teachers and all our students were in Shehba. We all fell very sad, it seemed like everything was finished for us. On Newroz day they had brought our martyrs to the martyrs graveyard in Ehrez province. We went to the ceremony. We saw the many martyrs there.

We got up again thanks to our students 

Our students came to us and asked us where the schools were. We got morale from them and realized we had to get up on our feet again. Eventually we slowly started to gather teachers and students. We got together and discussed. Then each teacher first began to form his/her own speciality. Teachers from primary education began to collect their own materials. Then we started to walk around, village after village, house after house. We went to visit our students to their houses. We saw that our students did not want another education system. They all wanted the education system they had in Afrin. Our morale got much better and we have decided to resume our education no matter what.

We didn’t step back

The attacks against Afrin started during mid-term holidays, so we could not finish the second semester. Which is why we have decided to complete the second term of education first. In addition, we had students who completed their secondary school and had to start college. We were supposed to do something for them. We started working to send them to Rojava University in Jazira. 

It boosted our morale to begin this work. At the same time, our people got their morale up. The aim of the enemy was to break the people and forced them to get back. But they failed. The KPC-Demokratîk and of course the people, organised themselves. We gathered our students in our visits to Komin and to their families. Since at the beginning we had no place where to open a school, we started lessons in tents. It lasted two months.

Indeed this process was more to gather and motivate students. Because in Afrin, almost every family had either a martyr or a veteran. Of course, the attacks on Afrin had a profound effect on the psychology of children.Fathers or mothers or other family members were killed in front of the children’s eyes. Some children were so affected that they were psychologically shuttered. Some kids had lost everything and found no motivation and no need in studying. We understood that if we had reacted in a weak way, we would have lost these kids forever. We discussed with the teachers and decided that in the first phase, it would be more appropriate to consider this process as a healing process. We dedicated ourselves to deal with students, increasing their morale and helping them psychologically rather than to give classes. Heyva Sor a Kurd was very helpful in this process.

Schools had neither windows nor doors

After the first two months schools went on holiday. As KPC-Demokratîk we continued our work during the holiday period. We continued to visit families. We talked with all the families and told them that our education system would be a continuation of the system we had implemented in Afrin. We sent our college students to Jazira. Some of these students went to the Mesopotamian Academy and some to the University of Rojava. We sent 78 students in total.

Once schools reopened we confirmed that to teach in tents was proving hard and challenging. We started to use the schools in the area which had not been completely destroyed. Tough, as all of these schools had received major blows and water was pouring down everywhere. In order to continue to implement our education system, we repaired our own facilities and continued our lessons.

We now have 14,000 students

When we began, we had 4,000 students for the first two months, but now we have 14,000. There are primary, middle and high school here. Our system is the same system we had in Afrin. Everyone is studying in their own language; Arabic students Arabic, Kurdish students in Kurdish. The books for the schools are prepared according to the Democratic Nation system, principles and values. Although we have difficulties and limited opportunities, we continue our lessons with great will, determination and effort. 

Like us, students too have suffered a lot. For example, they have to write covering the paper with their hand in classes where water are pouring down. In many classrooms there are neither door nor window. We put a blanket instead. 

As classes are dark, students sometimes write at the light of a burning lantern. Sometimes we teachers feel down, but then we look at our students and immediately we lift our spirits. 

We are always taking a step forward

One thing I can surely say is this: we will not lose. Our people no matter how big the problem, will always find a solution in the end, an alternative. We are always taking a step forward. We won’t let difficulties and problems beat us. 

Now we have 991 teachers and 777 of them are women.

We are organising and we will go back 

With the support of the martyrs’ family institution, the municipality and Heyva Sor a Kurd, we collected money to ensure what was missing: we got bags, pencils and notebooks. 

This made the students feel and know that there is who is looking after them.

In this period of holidays teachers are also training in order to improve their skills and knowledge. Two groups of 150 teachers are receiving training in both ideological and professional subjects. 

We, the people of Afrin, are an organized people and we will return to Afrin.