Syria’s Private Schools: a Way to Get Rich Quick

Parents in the capital Damascus have complained about the rise in private school fees which have jumped to astronomical numbers exceeding half a million Syrian pounds

With the start of the new school year, the cycle of civilian suffering has resumed, as private schools and kindergartens become specialists in exploiting the needs of people and the ambitions of some for high scientific achievement, giving opportunities to students to obtain seats in certain scientific colleges, like Syria’s medical and engineering schools. People may be persuaded on this issue when considering the low outcomes of government education or the lack of contentment of some people with the performance of public schools.

Al-Watan received a number of complaints from people in Damascus about the rise in private school fees which have jumped to astronomical numbers exceeding half a million Syrian pounds ($2,340) in some cases. There may be rationales for these schools which are giving students excellent entertainment services, like swimming pools, food, and entertainment programs. But in any case, as the people say in their complaints, it is unacceptable for these schools to be a means of getting rich quick.

Although the Education Ministry has floated a request for leniency with parents in the matter of dress in private and public schools, every private school is currently earning a large profit as it is compulsory for students to wear school uniforms, given that one suit costs more than 15,000 Syrian pounds – over three times the cost of a normal suit in the market. It is also the case with notebooks and types of stationary and transport in all the services these schools provide.

In Qadissiya, one of the schools puts up to 44 students in one classroom and takes the premiums and transport fees in advance, threatening students with cancelling their registration if they do not pay. In addition, parents say that some schools send emails demanding money from them and if the parents do not respond they expel the student — yet at the same time, these schools do not respond to messages sent to them by the parents in any issue related to their children. Therefore, as parents see it, it is a purely a capital gaining process. In another complaint about private education, one of the schools last year distributed tablets to students instead of English textbooks, outside the curriculum. In the current year this school did not reduce the value of the tablets which it distributed the previous year. The books remain undistributed and all of these supplies were paid for by students.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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