Education in Syria

Though a poor country, Syria is gradually increasing its expenditures on education to evolve a firm basic system. The state controls the education in Syria with the ministry of education being the centralized controlling authority that regulates the curriculum and provides all support regarding teaching material, goals and outcomes. Compulsory education has been imposed by the government in 1981 making education free for all children in Syria, from grades 1 to 9. The language of instruction is Arabic with English being taught as the first language and French as the second foreign language.

Nearly four-fifths of the population in Syria is literate and demonstrates the significant investment made in education. In fact the seeds of ensuring excellent literacy level have been laid way back in the sixties with the beginning of the Ba’ath regime. The Ba’ath government gave top priority to education and saw it as a means to exercise its influence on the masses.

Primary Education

Syria enforces compulsory education from grades 1 to 6. So children from 6 to 11 years in Syria receive basic education in schools run by the state with few private schools. The government has also begun to take responsibility for kindergartens which have been basically provided by non-governmental or private institutions until 1990s. Efforts are also being made to address the gender parity issues.

Lower Secondary Education

Grades 7 to 9 form the main component of the Lower Secondary Education. This level forms the crux of a general course or vocational training. The students have to take national exams in the 9th grade and the results determine whether the students can be promoted to secondary schools or have to move to vocational secondary schools.

Upper Secondary Education

Grades 10 to 12 form the main component of the upper secondary education. The 12th grade exams are termed as national exams that are conducted simultaneously throughout the nation. Based on the results of this exam, the student decides his course of specialization and the college or university he has to attend. The system through which the application and selection process is carried out is called the Mufadalah.

Vocational Education

Depending on their middle school education, students have the option of attending technical school for a period of three years. Male students mainly prefer to train in agriculture and industry while the female students enroll for training in crafts. However, the computer and commercial classes see a mix of genders. One drawback of the vocational education seems to be the lack of opportunity to enter mainstream academic programs, once the student enters the vocational stream.

Tertiary Education

The entire education system including tertiary education falls under the ministry of education. This encompasses the realm of universities, academic councils, education hospitals and universities. There is a greater emphasis on Science, Medicine and Engineering streams than Law, Business studies or the Arts. The University of Damascus is the oldest and reputed university in Syria and has been established in 1923. Universities for higher education are few and are generally overcrowded with the increasing student population. The universities follow the French pattern of higher education that includes Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Doctorate degrees.

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