DAMASCUS, Syria (North Press) – Yasmin, a student in the third grade, while sitting on her desk, looked sadly at new textbooks her friend, sitting next to her, obtained.
Yasmin’s mother told North Press, “We can’t buy new textbooks, so we had to repair her books and place a sheet of cardboard instead of the worn-out cover.”
The annual sufferings of students’ parents in securing the textbooks began with the new academic year that started on September 5.
Textbooks were distributed to the majority of government schools, but of varying quality.
Some textbooks are new and the rest are old that are retrieved from students in previous years, and the student can’t study in them for a whole year.
This prompted the parents to go to school textbooks depots to buy books according to the prices set by the Public Printing Corporation prior to the current academic year.
According to Umm Ward, whose son is studying in the fourth grade of primary school, said the new textbooks are only available in depots and are not available in schools.
“The student has two choices, either to study in the worn-out book, or buy the expensive new ones.”
She added, “My financial situation doesn’t allow me to buy a new copy for my son.”
She said, “Costs I paid to buy notebooks, a school uniform and a bag is enough, I paid about 150.000 Syrian pounds.”
Sufferings that parents witness in securing a good textbook in Syria, which must be provided at the schools, is a clear violation of the Syrian constitution, which was approved in 2012.
Article 29 of the Constitution in paragraphs (1) and (2) stipulates Education shall be a right guaranteed by the state, and it is free at all levels. The law shall regulate the cases where education could not be free at universities and government institute and that education shall be compulsory until the end of basic education stage, and the state shall work on extending compulsory education to other stages.
In the past week, textbooks depots closed their doors to the students’ families without any justification from those concerned in the Public Printing Corporation.
A source in the Public Printing Corporation stated that the corporation closed its doors in order to conduct an inventory of books sold according to the old prices.
The source added, “The corporation issued a new bulletin for the prices of the textbooks, signed by the director.”
According to the new price bulletin, the price of a copy of first-grade textbooks reached 34.800 Syrian pounds (SYP, about $7).
The price of the second grade’s textbooks reached 35.300 SYP, the third grade 36.300 SYP, the fourth grade 31.400 SYP, the fifth grade 38.500 SYP, and the sixth grade 41.800 SYP.
The price of the seventh grade’s textbooks has come up to 52.000 SYP (about $11), the eighth grade’s textbooks 55.500 SYP (about $12) and the ninth grade’s 57.300 SYP (about $12).
The corporation also raised the prices of other publications for 144 types of publications and books used in education for the basic education stage.
Abu Suleiman had to pay about 80.000 (SYP, about $17) for two copies of textbooks for his children in the second and third grades of primary school after he waited two weeks for books to be delivered to his children in a school in Sbeneh in Rif Dimashq.
Abu Suleiman got bored of waiting, so he went to the textbooks depots to buy the textbooks for them though teachers had started giving lessons without having books with them.