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Syria’s education crisis

| April 5, 2011 | 0 Comments

According to a Syrian education consultant, speaking recently on a major news network, this country’s education system is one of the “most stressed in the world”. The most pressing problem in Syria, say researchers, is the increasing number of students: 60% of Syria’s population is under 25, and facilities cannot match demand. At Damascus University, where over 120 000 students are enrolled, lectures are so packed that latecomers lose out and tests take the form of multiple choice.

Regional instability has added long-standing and more recent refugees to those placing demand on the education system. Other problems include outdated curricula and unsatisfactory teaching standards, and a lack of connection between the curricula and labour market demands. An immediate solution has been the advent of private universities and schools.

Since 2001, when the law was changed to allow private entities in the education sector, private education provision has multiplied. There are now 18 private universities in addition to six public ones (including one open learning university). Most of the private universities are by law smaller and focus on just a handful of faculties – often the most oversubscribed ones at the public universities, such as Medicine and Pharmacy. Many believe the addition of private institutions won’t just benefit those students who enrol at them, but will ultimately raise the quality bar across the whole sector, despite the fact that private fees of up to US$12 000 per year – compared to as little as US$20 in the public sector – rule out the majority of the population.

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Category: Autumn 2011

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