Shehba: Learning despite flight and war

In the canton of Shehba, 13,610 students from Shehba and Afrin attend classes. Lessons take place in destroyed and temporarily rebuilt houses and schools.

As a result of the occupation attacks of the Turkish state on Afrin starting from January 20, 2018, a large part of the population of the canton began to flee to the Shehba region. The population of the canton of Shehba has more than doubled with the flight from Afrin. The Education Committee for a Democratic Society (KPC-D) has begun by the end of August to prepare the training of the massively increased number of students.

After completing the preparations for the 2018-2019 school year, 81 elementary, secondary and high schools were opened on 15 September for the students from Afrin and Shehba. 64 of the schools are elementary schools attended by 11,728 students. Ten more schools are secondary schools where 1017 are students taught. In addition, 465 students are being trained at seven preparatory schools.

At the same time, 1015 students are attending classes in the camps of Afrin, Berxwedan and Serdem. In total, 977 teachers work at the schools.

Multilingual education

In all three types of schools, students receive lessons in mathematics, science, history, geography, physics, chemistry, morality, culture and music. The preparatory school also teaches Sociology and Jineology (Science of Women). Multilingualism is one of the foundations of education. Thus, the students are taught in Kurdish, Arabic, English and French. School textbooks and school materials have already been distributed to the 11,728 elementary school students. The distribution of teaching material in the secondary and preparatory grades is still ongoing.

Houses converted into schools

Due to the fighting in the region only ruins are left of the many schools in the canton of Shehba. In order to continue teaching, the KPC-D has transformed some homes into schools.

Students’ committees

On the other hand, students’ committees work in secondary and preparatory secondary schools so that students themselves can express their interests and needs.

Student Heyfa Haşim, whose school has been reduced to rubble by the attacks of the Turkish military, says: "The important thing is that we can learn. The place is not important at all. Even if under a tree, we would continue learning. We receive our lessons from books prepared in our native language. In this way we resist the cultural annihilation of Turkish occupation.”

Ten-year-old Fayza Al-Salim states that she and her family had to leave Aleppo because of the war and went to Afrin. Because of the attacks, they also had to leave Afrin and flee to Shehba. Actually, she should now be in the fourth grade, but due to the war, she is visiting only the second class now. She says, "We learn Arabic, the letters and the words. We also learn math. Our teachers help us and make our understanding easier."

Sêrîn Silêman from the KPC-D administration said the purpose of her work was to enable students to continue their education and keep them away from the effects of the war.