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Feb 17, 2023

After quake, Syrian schools silent as teachers, students perish

The earthquake destroyed more than 115 schools in Syria and damaged hundreds more. More than 100 others were being used as makeshift shelters to host thousands displaced by the earthquake, which brought apartment blocks and even tiny rural homes crashing down on residents' heads.

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Syrian Arab Republic


The Syrian Arab Republic is a mostly desert land bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. Syria is slightly larger than the U.S. state of North Dakota.


The language of instruction in Syria is Arabic and the standard school year runs between the months of September through June. Length of schooling as well as the certificate or diploma awarded upon completion is dependent on the level of education.

Primary and Secondary Education

Primary and secondary education in Syria are as follows:

  • Primary Education: Six Years
  • Intermediate Education: Three Years, Certificate/Diploma: Al Kafa’a (Brevet)
  • Secondary Education: Three Years, Certificate/Diploma: General Secondary - Al-Shahâda Al Thânawiyya-Al’Amma (Baccalaureate, Secondary School Leaving Certificate) / Technical Secondary - Al- Shahâda Al Thânawiyya Al-Fanniyya (Technical Baccalaureate)

Post-Secondary Education

Higher education is provided by Universities, Higher Institutes and Intermediate Institutes of Professional and Technical training under the responsibility of various Ministries. All higher education institutions are controlled and financed by the state. The main body responsible for overall policy concerning teaching and scientific research is the Council for Higher Education.

First Cycle, Academic

The Licence / Bachelor Degree is awarded after four to six years of study, depending on the subject. In arts, humanities, law, Islamic law, economics, social sciences and fine arts, studies last four years. Engineering, architecture, agriculture, pharmacy, dentistry and veterinary science studies last five years. In the faculties of engineering, including architecture, the Licence / Bachelor is awarded based on the results of both the final year examination and a practical project. In medicine, the Licence / Bachelor degree is given the name of Medical Doctor and is awarded after six years, marking the end of the first stage of medical studies.

First Cycle, Vocational/Technical

Programs of study are offered in agriculture, engineering, medical sciences, economics, administration, nursing, transport, tourism, etc. Courses last for up to two years after the General or Technical Baccalaureate. Upon completion of a two-year program, they may be awarded the Wathîqat Takharruj or Musaddiqat Takarruj Certificate. Students are required to undertake one month of practical training during the summer vacation. The Supreme Council of Intermediate Institutes is the responsible body.

Second Cycle

The Masters degree is awarded after a minimum of two years beyond the Licence / Bachelor degree. A Postgraduate Diploma is conferred after one year of study after receipt of the Licence / Bachelor degree.

Third Cycle

The doctorate is the highest university degree. It is awarded after a minimum of three years of study following the Masters degree. It involves personal research work and the defense of a dissertation.

Teacher Education

Primary school teachers are trained at Teacher Training Schools, Teacher Training Intermediate Institutes and Athletic Institutes where they obtain a Primary Teaching Certificate (Shahâdat Ahliyyat Al-Ta'lîm Al-Ibtibâ'I).

Teachers for intermediate education who hold the Baccalaureate attend a two-year training course. Graduates of the course may teach without special training. Secondary school teachers attend the Faculty of Education at the Universities. A Diploma and a Special Diploma in Education are conferred after one year of study. For subjects where there is a teacher shortage, preparatory school teachers are trained in two-year courses at a Teacher Training Intermediate Institution. From 1997, Teacher and Teacher Assistants are trained in the Faculties of Education.

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Robert Watkins

Special Assistant to the Director, University of Texas at Austin


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