Tens of thousands of children in Syria's northwestern Idlib province are trying to continue their education despite the fact that more than 80 percent of the schools in the region have been damaged as a result of Syrian regime attacks that occurred prior to the Sochi deal, which has since established a demilitarized zone in the area.
Since the Syrian civil war first erupted in 2011, hundreds of schools in the region were destroyed by the regime's land and air attacks. According to the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, more than 80 percent of the 1,148 schools in and around Idlib province were heavily damaged and in need of reconstruction. In the last seven years, many children in the region had to leave school and work to provide for their families.
Last month, Turkey and Russia agreed to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib, Syria's last opposition stronghold, following a meeting in the Russian city of Sochi between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. In addition to the damaged schools, a lack of teachers and educational materials are others issue that Idlib residents currently face. One of these schools, located in the village of Kafr near the town of Jisr ash-Shugur in Idlib, is being used by 150 students and volunteer teachers. Here, where most of the classrooms have been destroyed, students are the ones who have to take care of cleaning the building.
Speaking to the Anadolu Agency (AA), the manager of the school, Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman, explained that due to the lack of school staff and materials, they have had to combine several classes while cancelling others. "There are more than 50 students in a class," Sulayman said.
"I love my school very much. I want to come here and learn. There are not enough classrooms in the school. There are no doors and windows either," 11-year-old Eyhem Kürdi said, adding that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
Another student, Muhammad Sulayman, said that he wants the school to be reconstructed.
"If I had a school, I would have repaired its walls. I would give students books, chairs, pencils and notebooks," he said.