As schools in Syria’s Hasakah shelter IDPs, illiteracy looms

TEL TAMR, Syria (North Press) – Kafa’ al-Khedr, 30, a housewife in Shahid Ibrtahim neighborhood in Tel Tamer town, north of Hasakah, blames the related authorities in her own town for not finding a solution that enables her child to go to school as it was turned to a shelter for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Following the invasion of Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tel Abyad areas in late 2019 by Turkish forces and their affiliated Syrian armed opposition factions, schools in Tel Tamr turned to be shelters for thousands of IDPs fleeing the Turkish invasion.

As the Turkish forces and opposition factions approached Tel Tamr, it turned to be a contact line displacing many more of civilians who headed to the small town of Tel Tamr. 

The majority of the IDPs in the school of Shahid Ibrahim moved to other camps in Hasakah and Raqqa in addition to other cities, yet several IDPs who failed to find a shelter are still living in the school.

Earlier this year, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) decided that all the IDPs should leave the school so the children can complete their education, but the IDPs refused to leave.  

Later, as living conditions aggravated and humanitarian aid reduced, the IDPs called the authorities to move to other camps. However, the capacity of the camps denied them.  

Unclear future  

Speaking while her children play around, al-Khedr said “an unclear future awaits these children. If they remain without education, they will lose their future. We cannot send them to far schools every day.”

“Our children will be illiterate in the future in the absence of education. Besides, there are no home tutors here,” she added.  

The residents of Shahid Ibrahim neighborhood in Tel Tamr said the school in their own neighborhood used to contain 500 students, the majority now are away from school.

Al-Khedr and other locals call that another shelter to be found for the IDPs in the school so that their children can pursue education. 

However, officials in the camps management in Washokani and Sere Kaniye, housing thousands of IDPs, announced the camps’ inability to shelter more.

Data of the AANES Organizations’ Affair Office in Tel Tamr announced 25,000 IDPs, distributed on 4,200 families live in Tel Tamr.

A statistic by the schools’ managements committee said 15 schools in Tel Tamr are still places to house the IDPs, mostly from Sere Kaniye.

Some families of the IDPs share the same classrooms in some schools in the area.

Emergency solutions  

The Turkish military action in early 2021 destroyed two schools completely and damaged three others, according the schools’ management committee.  

Bahiya Ma’mo, a member of the schools’ management committee, said they have no other choice left but to transfer five houses to school as an emergency solution.

“Not only the children of the town of Tel Tamr remained without education, but also the children of the IDPs,” she said.

2.5 million Syria’s children are out-of-school, and further 1.6 million are threatened to have the same fate, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report.

Recently, the Education and Training Committee in the Tel Tamr Council decided to follow up situations of the IDPs in schools, which have been converted to shelters, to reunite them with their blood relatives in the camps, Redwan Khalaf, director of the committee said.

“If no urgent solutions found, an illiterate generation will grow up,” Khalaf cautioned.

Reporting by Dilsoz Youssef