A College for the Kurds of Syria — World Points

Simply one other day in the primary corridor of the Qamishli campus. Credit score: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS
  • by Karlos Zurutuza (Qamishli, Syria)
  • Inter Press Service

That is the campus of College of Rojava in Qamishli (700 kilometers northeast of Damascus), an establishment which opened its doorways in October 2016, within the midst of the conflict which remains to be raging.

“Kurdish language classes are one in every of our options,” Rohan Mistefa, the previous dean, instructed IPS from a second-floor workplace. In addition to the language of instruction, important variations from different Syrian universities are additionally seen within the curriculum.

“We removed topics such because the ideology and historical past of the Baath celebration (in energy in Damascus since 1963) and changed them with ‘democratic tradition’”, explains this Kurdish girl in her forties . The creation of a Division of Science for Girls (Jineoloijin Kurdish), she provides, was one other milestone.

The College of Rojava hosts round 2,000 college students on three campuses. There are, nevertheless, two different energetic universities in northeast Syria: Kobani, in operation since 2017, and Al-Sharq in Raqqa. The latter has been working since final yr in a metropolis that was as soon as the capital of the Islamic State in Syria.

“Not like the schools of Kobani and Rojava, in Raqqa we examine in Arabic as a result of the vast majority of residents there are Arabs,” explains Mistefa, who’s now co-responsible for coordination between the three establishments.

Mustefa has been carefully linked to the establishment since its creation. She participated within the founding of the primary Kurdish college in Syria in her native Afrin in 2015. This pioneering initiative needed to shut its doorways in 2018: territorially disconnected from the remainder of the Syrian Kurdish territories, Afrin was taken over by the Islamists supported by Ankara. militias. It stays beneath occupation to this present day.

“Lots of people ask us why we’re opening colleges and universities within the midst of conflict. I all the time inform them that ours is a tradition of constructing, not one in every of destroying our neighbors and their allies,” says the Kurdish girl.

The Kurds name their homeland in northeast Syria “Rojava” (“west”). Following the so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings within the Center East and North Africa in 2011, Kurds opted for what was then generally known as “third manner”: neither with the federal government nor with the opposition.

Twelve years later, Syria’s Kurdish minority coexists with Arabs and Syriacs within the so-called Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES). It’s on this nook of Syria, which shares borders with Turkey and Iraq, that such a community of universities has been constructed. It now rivals the federal government establishments of the Syrian Arab Republic.

A “titanic process”

After the opening of the primary Kurdish language colleges within the historical past of Syria, the College of Rojava is yet another step in a revolution that has positioned schooling amongst its primary values.

It consists of 9 schools which supply free educational coaching in varied branches of engineering, in addition to medication, regulation, instructional sciences, administration and finance, journalism and, in fact, philology. Kurdish.

“I selected philology as a result of I like to jot down poems in Kurdish; I’m very keen on folklore, literature… something that has to do with our tradition,” Tolen Kenjo, a second-year scholar from close by Hasaka, instructed IPS.

The 19-year-old nonetheless remembers being punished at college each time she mentioned a phrase in her native language. For greater than 4 many years, the banning of the Kurdish language in Syria was simply one other chapter in an formidable assimilation plan that additionally included the displacement of the nation’s Kurdish inhabitants and even the deprivation of citizenship. tens of hundreds of them.

As we speak, the partitions of the college are coated with posters: local weather maps, the cycle of photosynthesis, quotes from Russian classics. For the primary time in Syria, all are in Kurdish. The hallways fill with college students throughout breaks between lessons, typically amid the laughter that comes from a bunch of scholars taking part in volleyball within the yard.

Within the English language and translation division, we discover Jihan Ayo, a Kurdish girl who has been instructing right here for greater than three years. Ayo is amongst greater than 200,000 displaced individuals (UN figures) who arrived from Serekaniye in 2019, when the Kurdish district was invaded by Islamist militias beneath the wing of Ankara.

“Assaults from Turkey or from Islamic State cells are nonetheless frequent right here,” Ayo tells IPS. Concerning the programs, she factors to a “titanic process”.

Work remains to be ongoing to translate instructing supplies into Kurdish – to coach not solely the scholars but in addition those that will change into their academics. Amongst different issues, Ayo remembers these “very exhausting” 18 months throughout which the pandemic compelled the suspension of lessons.

“We tried to cope with issues on line; we obtained assist from volunteer academics from all around the world, however in fact not everybody right here can afford to hook up with the web…”

She additionally faces a wrestle to achieve the belief of many native residents, in direction of an academic community that has no recognition outdoors this nook of Syria. Though the Kurdish administration administers the area, the “official” colleges – these run by Damascus – proceed to function and, in fact, they follow the pre-war curriculum.


In a worldwide manner report printed in September 2022 on the college system in northeast Syria, Rojava Researchers Info Middle (an impartial information group) stress the significance of worldwide recognition which might make the establishment extra enticing to college students.

“Whereas the standard of schooling obtained at these universities is itself similar to that of different establishments within the area, the shortage of recognition overseas might stop college students from pursuing their research outdoors of Syria. , to discover a job overseas and even to have their technical information acknowledged by corporations and establishments not linked to AANES”, warns the report.

It additionally claims that the College of Rojava has cooperation agreements with at the very least eight international universities, together with Washington State College (USA), Emden/Leer College of Utilized Sciences (Germany ) and the College of Parma (Italy).

It’s only a ten-minute stroll from the campus of the headquarters of the Democratic Union Occasion (PYD), the dominant political celebration among the many Kurds in Syria. From his workplace, PYD co-president Salih Muslim needed to focus on the position of universities as “suppliers of the required frameworks to construct and develop the locations to which they belong and from which they arrive”.

“Our universities are able to cooperate and alternate expertise with all worldwide universities and establishments to achieve extra expertise and they’re welcome to take action,” Muslim instructed IPS.

Regardless of the shortage of worldwide recognition, college life continues on this nook of Syria. Noreldin Hassan arrived from Afrin after the 2018 invasion and is now on the verge of fulfilling his dream of incomes a level in journalism. The 27-year-old tells IPS that his college is “working in the precise course” to achieve worldwide recognition. Nonetheless, he selected to not look ahead to a diploma to start out his profession, and he has already labored as a reporter for eight years.

“Getting a level is necessary, however in the end journalists study by doing by researching tales and overlaying them,” he mentioned.

The final story he coated? One about these ladies compelled to marry mercenaries paid by Turks. The story he would most wish to cowl? No shock right here:

“The day when the Kurds of Afrin can lastly return house.”

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedAuthentic supply: Inter Press Service