Tag Archives: Syria

SYRIA: Education in Exile

March 29th, 2019

syria

Syria’s brutal civil war that began in 2011 has created the world’s largest displacement crisis, with almost 5.7 million registered refugees, including more than 2.5 million Syrian children now living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. (In 2016, we posted an extensive piece on the Syrian conflict and its impact on the education system and the millions of its citizens who have been displaced. Click here to read more.)

The civil war has led to the creation of the Syrian Interim Government, an alternative government or a government in exile of the Syrian Opposition, which has been formed by the opposition umbrella group, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The interim government is seated in exile in Turkey. Its headquarters in Syria are located in the city of Azaz in Turkish-occupied northern Syria.

In effect, at this time, there are 2 governments in operation representing Syria: the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) led by President Assad and the Syrian Interim Government (SIG). Because of the conflict, the Ministry of Education (MOE) in SAR has placed the entire curriculum of secondary education on-line to allow for students to self-study. In this case, students will not receive a report card or transcript for each year of study. The only document they will receive is the certificate for final exams for the Secondary Baccalaureate which provides them access to tertiary education at the universities in Syria.

In direct opposition to the government of President Assad, the SIG’s MOE has instituted its own secondary curriculum for those in the Turkish refugee camps and Syrian schools in Turkey and offers its own Secondary Baccalaureate examinations. The Interim Government’s MOE is working closely with the MOE in the Turkish government to coordinate efforts between the two ministries to oversee all Syrian schools in Turkey. It is also discussing how Syrian university students living in exile can be admitted into Turkish universities to continue their education and qualify for scholarships.

Until recently, Turkey, and with some limitations, France, had been the only countries recognizing the Secondary Baccalaureate examinations administered by the Syrian Interim Government. But on March 11, 2019, the MOE under the Syrian Interim Government announced that its diplomas are being recognized by several European universities in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. The diplomas are not recognized by the Syrian Arab Government’s MOE and any Syrian returning to Syria will not be granted admission to the universities based on the SIG MOE’s Secondary Diploma.


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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Syria: Education in Crisis during a Time of Conflict

February 4th, 2016

Syria_1
Source: Telegraphy/UK 

On January 21, 2016 I listened to a webinar hosted by AACRAO concerning Syria and supporting refugee access to higher education. The presenters, Annetta Stroud, Senior Evaluator at AACRAO and Monica Ibrahim, EducationUSA Adviser, Syria, provided a thorough overview of the current state of Syria’s education system and the severe impact of the on-going conflict on the country’s infrastructure, including schools and universities. The picture is very grim and it is difficult to envision that there is an end in sight to the fighting between government forces and those of the opposition and ISIL/Daesh.  We have seen the images of the death and destruction and the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing their homeland to neighboring countries and Europe in search of safety and stability. The refugee camps in Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt have reached and exceeded their maximum capacity. UNESCO and NGOs have set up temporary schools for the children living in the refugee camps.  Alternative methods of teaching have been implemented and still some students risk their lives to return to Syria just to participate in their high school final examinations. The situation is grim to say the least and lives have been disrupted and an entire population of people traumatized and displaced beyond levels we can ever comprehend.


Drone image of Homs, Syria

The following are highlights of the information gleaned from the webinar as well as facts on refugees provided by UNESCO.

Brief History of Conflict

  • March 2011 Syrian crisis began when anti-government protests in Deir al-Zour and Damascus broke out.
  • July 2011 military defectors set up the Free Syrian Army.
  • 2013 Syrian Interim Government was formed and set up its own Ministry of Education.
  • 2014 ISIL had made huge gains in the region.

Status of Syria’s 7 Public Universities 

Syria_2
Source: Bahrain News Agency

Syria_3
Source: NY Times

  • Aleppo University – has 7 faculties in Idlib City which is under the control of the Assad Regime January 13, 2013 – 1st day of examinations at Aleppo University was disrupted by a bomb that killed 87 people, mostly students. The Ministry of higher Education suspended all exams at all higher education institutions.
  • Tishreen University – is under the control of the Assad Regime, was attacked in November 2015.
  • Damascus University & Syrian Virtual University – are both under the control of the Assad Regime. On March 28, 2013, Damascus University was targeted when mortar bombs landed in the College of Architecture killing 15 students, after which the University was forced to close.
  • Hama University in Hama & Al-Baath University in Homs as well as elementary and secondary schools in Hama and Homs are regularly disrupted because of ongoing conflict.
  • Al-Furat University in Deir al-Zour is under the control of the regime, but in the outskirts of the city ISIL/Daesh have control of region. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, one professor at the University was tortured and killed by Assad Government forces in 2014 and accused of being part of Al-Nusra Front.

Facts on Deaths and Refugees

  • The Syrian human rights group reports 1,629 students have been killed by government forces as of 2014/15 with estimates of 35,000 university students unlawfully detained.
  • UNHCR reports approximately 12,000,000 registered refugees from Syria scattered amongst refugee camps in Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. http://www.unhcr.org/emergency/5051e8cd6-56ab78229.html

News on Ministry of Education 

  • There are 2 governments in operation at this time in Syria: the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) and the Syrian Interim Government.
  • Because of the conflict, the MOE in SAR has placed the entire curriculum of secondary education on-line to allow for students to self-study. In this case, students will not receive a report card or transcript for each year of study. The only document they will receive is the certificate for final exams for the Secondary Baccalaureate which provides them access to tertiary education at the universities in Syria.
  • SAR’s MOE makes available exam results for 2014-2016 on their website http://goo.gl/p66jF6 (this is the link to obtain exam results for the scientific track of the secondary bacc. exam) – To verify the student’s exam results, enter the person’s exam # and province, or his/her name and other info (DOB), choose either literary/ scientific stream.
  • 2010/2011 – 380,000 students were enrolled in institutions of higher education throughout Syria.

Facts about university credentials

  • The wall paper degree diploma is only issued at the request of the university graduate.
  • Certificates of Graduation are issued more commonly than the wall paper diplomas.
  • Only one primary original official transcript is issued by Syrian Universities which will have security features such as a clear tape, wet seals, and stamps.
  • Additional certified copies are available to students and to receive them they have to take the originals to the institution which will make the duplicate copies and place the wet seals and stamps. [NOTE: Certified copies need to have the wet seals from the university itself and not just the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.]

 

Facts about elementary and secondary students

Syria_4
Source: Al-Jazeera News

Syria_5
Source: Japan Times

  • Under the current state of conflict, school children on the average have been out of school for 4 or more years.
  • Enrollment rates of children at school in Aleppo is at 6%
  • We’ll definitely see huge gaps in school attendance at elementary and secondary levels.
  • In areas that are controlled by the SAR government, the MOE is seriously committed to providing students access to elementary and secondary education and continues to administer grade 9 and grade 12 leaving certificate exams.
  • These exams are administered only in the areas that are under the control of the SAR government. They are not accessible in the contested areas.
  • In the SAR/government controlled areas, there is a huge population of displaced people; many displaced students can’t register for schools because they don’t have their papers, ID/birth certificates and prior school records.
  • MOE is now allowing students without papers to register at schools.
  • Electricity, water shortages in schools hinders regular classes and attendance. It’s also forcing a double shift approach to instruction. There will be 2 cohorts as a result of this double shift instruction which means classroom instruction hours have been shortened to fit the 2 cohort class schedules.

Education in regions under SYRIAN INTERIM GOVERNMENT (SIG)

  • The SIG has formed its own MOE which is called the Higher Commission for Education (HCE).
  • They have revised the Syrian national curriculum and removed the following courses: National Socialist Education and History as well as any mention of the Baath party.
  • The SIG HCE administers its own Baccalaureate examination in those regions of Syria which are under the control of the opposition party as well as in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
  • Approximately 10,000 students have taken this Bacc exam by the SIG’s HCE each year starting in 2013.
  • They use a different grading system and include a barcode on the Bacc certificate for security measures.
  • The SIC Bacc certificate is not recognized by the SAR government and would not grant admission to universities in Syria.
  • The Turkish government has recognized the SIG HCE Bacc certificate.
  • The French Foreign Ministry has accepted this credential from 10 refugees to date who have been admitted to 1 university in France (name of French university is unavailable).
  • No other nation has recognized the SIG and the SIG HCE Bacc Certificate.
  • The non-governmental organization known as Syrian Commission for Education has been administering the Libyan curriculum to refugees in Turkey in 2013, 2014, 2015. The students take the Libyan National Leaving Examination.
  • Refugees in Turkey can decide if they want to opt for the Libyan National Leaving Exam or the Syrian Bacc administered by SIG’s HCE.
  • Most Syrian refugees don’t take the Turkish curriculum for secondary education because of language barriers.
  • Some Syrian refugee students return to government-controlled regions in Syria to take the exam by the SAR’s MOE which is very risky.
  • At universities, may students study at home and go to campus only to take exams.
  • Many universities have closed their main campuses and moved offices and classes to less risky locations and offer classes from homes and apartments.

It is anticipated that with the large numbers of students preparing for the SIG Baccalaureate high school examinations in refugee camps, we will begin to see these credentials for evaluation and admission to U.S. colleges and universities. Since the SIG baccalaureate examination certificate is not recognized by the SAR Ministry of Education and the international community, except for Turkey and the French Foreign Ministry, it would be interesting to see how the academic community in the U.S. will interpret and handle this credential. We will keep you updated on any new developments that concern the Syrian education. Please join us on our FaceBook page and follow us on Twitter. Stay tuned and connected.

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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20 Facts on How the U.S. Resettles Syrian Refugees

November 19th, 2015

refugees
Syrian refugees in Belgrade, Serbia, are waiting for an opportunity to travel north to cross the border with Hungary, entering the EU [Source: AP]

The on-going conflict in Syria and the recent refugee crisis has given rise to anti-refugee sentiments in the U.S. with more than half of the nation’s governors calling for a ban on admitting refugees into the country.  Entry to the U.S. as a refugee is an arduous process and requires months and even years of screening before a decision regarding admissibility to the country is granted.

In her November 17, 2015 piece for the Washington Post, Carol Morello,  the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department highlighted 3 important facts about how the U.S. resettles Syrian refugees.  In this blog, we have broken down these facts even further for your perusal:

  1. # of people who died since the violence broke out in Syria in 2011? More than 250,000
  2. # of people who have fled their homes? At least 11 million people in the country of 22 million have fled their homes. Syrians are now the world’s largest refugee population, according to the United Nations. Most are struggling to find safe haven in Europe.
  3. # of Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement in the U.S. since the conflict began in 2011: 2,200
  4. Rate of Syrian refugees arriving in U.S. per week: 45
  5. # of refugees to be accepted by the U.S.: 10,000
  6. # of Vietnamese refugees accepted each year during the height of the Vietnam War: 200,000
  7. # of months required to vet and screen a Syrian refugee before being admitted to the U.S.: 18 – 24 months
  8. % of refugees who are single males of combat age: 2%
  9. What is one factor for considering a refugee’s admissibility to U.S.? Whether they already have family in the U.S.
  10. How does the U.S. prioritize refugees? The vulnerable: women and children, the elderly, those who’ve been tortured, those who require modern medical treatment.
  11. Children represent half the refugees accepted to the U.S.
  12. Adults over 60 represent a quarter of the refugees accepted.
  13. How does the U.S. government screen and conduct background checks of refugees? Names, birthdates and fingerprints are run through databases, information is double checked against classified and unclassified records for consistency, face-to-face interviews with applicants are held at regional centers in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt. If need be, refugee specialists with U.S. departments of State, Homeland Security and the National Terrorism Center, will travel to refugee camps to conduct the interviews.
  14. Who makes the final decision of whether a refugee’s case is approved or rejected? The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  15. Do governors determine where a refugee settles once admitted to the U.S.? No.
  16. Who determines where a refugee settles once admitted to the U.S.? Faith-based and non-profit groups.
  17. How do faith-based and nonprofit groups help the refugees? Through federal funds allocated to these groups, they are able to welcome the arrive refugees and assist them with their relocation by finding them housing, enrolling them in English classes, and job search.
  18. What other services and benefits do refugees receive once admitted to the U.S.? They are eligible for Medicaid and become permanent residents which permits them to work.
  19. How long does it take for refugees admitted to the U.S. to be eligible for a green card? One year.
  20. How long does it take for refugees admitted to the U.S. to apply for U.S. citizens? Five years.

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Education in Syria: Struggling to Cope amidst Conflict

September 12th, 2013

Syria
Image source: http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/23/251368.html

The on-going civil war in Syria has prompted us to address the troubled state of the country’s educational system. The United Nations, in its report released in March of 2013, depicted the collapse of Syria’s education system. With thousands of schools damaged or converted into temporary shelters for displaced civilians, many children have not attended class for nearly two years, since the conflict started. Fearing the safety of their children, many parents don’t even send their children to school even in areas where their school may be open.

The UN report said that “at least a fifth of the country’s schools have suffered direct damage, and in others where classes are still held, overcrowding has pushed class sizes to 100 students.” UNICEF’s assessment of the situation was carried out in December 2012 and since then, the conflict has escalated and worsened with no end in sight.

“The education system in Syria is reeling from the impact of violence,” said Yo Jelil, the UNICEF representative in Syria. “Syria once prided itself on the quality of its education. Now it’s seeing the gains it made over the years rapidly reversed.”

Here are some facts about the current state of education in Syria based on the March 2013 report from UN’s UNICEF:

• More than 75% of schools in the country have been closed because of the on-going conflict. About 2,960 schools out of more than 22,000 schools in the country have been damaged and destroyed.

• Over 1,500 schools are being used as shelters for displaced person

• More than 200 teachers and other staff have been killed and many others are no longer reporting to work

• Some schools have been used by armed forces and groups involved in the conflict

• Educators are looking at alternative ways of offering lessons, such as using mosques instead of schools to teach, as parents worry warplanes usually target schools where the displaced have sought refuge.

• A group of activists in Idlib Province has started a radio station called “Colors FM,” and offer a daily 90-minute broadcast of lessons in English, math and science aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 10.

• UNICEF’s plans to try to alleviate Syria’s education crisis include the donation of school supplies and prefabricated classrooms and outreach to internally displaced children. UNICEF needs US$20 million to complete its projects. (At the time March 2013 report was released, the agency had received no more than $3 million.)

• Two charts prepared by UNICEF depicting the regions in Syria where school have been damaged and attendance rate:

Syria_chart

Syria_chart_2

• University education and university students have been severely affected by the conflict. For a glimpse of the damage brought on this sector of Syria’s education system, we strongly recommend the article “Syria’s Lost Generation,” Keith David Watenpaugh which appeared in the June 3, 2013 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/Syrias-Lost-Generation/139517/

Want to help?

The Institute for International Education (IIE) http://www.iie.org together with Jusoor https://jusoorsyria.com/ and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) http://www.iit.edu have announced a “Commitment to Action at the 2012 annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org that includes providing emergency grants to students whose education has been interrupted by the crisis, and to scholars whose lives are threatened in Syria. To join the consortium, visit the IEE link: http://www.iie.org/Who-We-Are/IIENetwork/Emergency-Support-For-Students-From-Syria

You may also reach out directly to UNICEF at http://www.unicef.org.

Alan
Alan Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit http://www.acei-global.org.

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