The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is reporting that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has shut down more schools in Syria, leaving over 670,000 children without access to education.
“In addition to lack of school access, attacks on schools, teachers and students are further horrific reminders of the terrible price Syria’s children are paying in a crisis approaching its fifth year,” said UNICEF representative in Syria Hanaa Singer. “Access to education is a right that should be sustained for all children, no matter where they live or how difficult the circumstances in which they live. Schools are the only means of stability, structure and routine that the Syrian children need more than ever in times of this horrific conflict.”
The shutdown affects children in all grades, from kindergarten to high school. While the Islamic State has announced plans to reopen schools, the proposed curriculum will be “compliant with religious rules.” Mathematics, philosophy, and chemistry are considered “blasphemous” and the militants prefer classes only about Islam. Militants will retrain the teachers to exclude these topics from conversation.
In August, Islamic State jihadists closed a number of schools in northern Syria and banned some classic courses in others, replaced by “Islamic” education. Only a board of education “appointed by ISIS” approved new curriculum. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that, by November, the terrorists had completely eliminated all courses.
“Islamic State informed them that teachers shall undergo a religious instructional course for one month, and that Islamic State officials were currently developing a new curriculum instead of the current ‘infidel’ education,” said the organization.
Syrian children are not the only ones who suffer. Jihadists in Mosul, Iraq, shut down schools as well. Yasser al-Ebadi, an official in the Nineveh Education Department, told Bloomberg the militants controlled 95% of the schools and “will distribute books that will ‘focus on Islamic education, sharia and Islamic jurisprudence.’” Only women are allowed to teach girls. Teacher Maha al-Azzaqi, 33, said militants “threatened to punish any teacher who refuses to go to school.”