The shortage of books is about 80% of the general need for schools in northern Syria (Al-Jazeera)

North Syria – Mustafa al-Saeed, a student in the first grade of secondary school, shares his books with his classmate, due to the delay in receiving his textbooks this year from his school in Idlib, northwestern Syria.

Mustafa suffers a lot from not having a copy of his own books because his jobs sometimes conflict with those of his colleague, and he may also need to study with a book that his friend reads at the same time.

Al-Saeed said that this year is the first time he has not received a school copy, and nearly 70% of students did not receive books this year due to the severe shortage of textbooks and their inability to afford to buy them.

He adds – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that the lack of books in schools is significantly cumbersome for students and teachers, because the professor can not hold students accountable for not submitting their duties, and sometimes some of them are forced to photograph the professor's explanation on the board to remember lessons.

Donor organizations that used to provide schools in northern Syria with books stopped providing support (Al Jazeera)

Significant deficiency

The Directorate of Education in rebel-held areas in Idlib in northwestern Syria said 500,<> students in the area needed textbooks.

The huge shortage of books in schools is due to the expiration of memorandums of understanding with donors, which provided books in previous years, before stopping doing so at the end of last year.

The head of the Department of Educational Guidance in Idlib, Muhammad Haj Ibrahim, says – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that the rate of book shortage is approximately 80% of the general need for schools in northern Syria.

He pointed out that this is because most partner organizations, which used to provide schools with books and provide for their annual needs, have stopped providing support.

Haj Ibrahim added that "there is a weakness in the financial capabilities of the directorate, as the cost of printing books exceeds $ 3 million that the directorate does not have.

He stated that the Directorate printed 10% of the needs of books within the capabilities available to it, and included a basic item in the memorandums of understanding with partner organizations so that printing books is essential in this memorandum, and directed school principals to distribute rounded books from previous years until new books are secured.

He added that coordination has been made with most partner organizations and donors, and they have been put in place to secure the needs for textbooks as quickly as necessary.

500,<> students in Idlib in northwestern Syria need textbooks (Al Jazeera)

Negative repercussions

The educational official stressed that the lack of books has negative repercussions on the teacher, the student and the educational process, as the student faces great difficulty in following the educational process and receiving information when the textbook is absent, which is reflected at the level of the entire generation.

Haj Ibrahim stressed that when books are available, they are distributed free of charge, whether by the directorate or partner organizations.

The Directorate is trying to bridge the gap between the number of books required and the actual amount available, by signing memorandums of understanding with new organizations, in addition to the process of recycling books currently available.

The United Nations estimates that 1.6 million of the 4.6 million people living in northwestern Syria need education services, and while 44 organizations work to support this sector, their services reach only 426,<>.

Ahmed Hakkoush, director of the Sarmada Boys' School in the northern countryside of Idlib, has 350 students in the literary and scientific sections in his school, all of whom have not received new books this year.

He says – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – they have old books have been distributed to some students, whose number does not exceed about 15%, while the rest of the students remained without books waiting for promises to print new books for them.

High costs and extreme poverty

Hakkoush added that the copy of the books ranges from $8 to $13, as a family with five students in the school needs more than $5 and most families cannot even afford these costs in light of the extreme poverty.

He pointed out that some students rely on writing important points on their notebooks while explaining the professor in class, others use explanations and comments from their colleagues, while others work to film lessons on their phones, "but all this does not replace books."

Some parents have worked to transfer their children to private schools because of the presence of books, but in exchange for paying financial sums, as the student in the private school needs an average of $ 25 per month, while studying in schools affiliated with the Directorate of Education is free.

Hazem al-Tamim decided to transfer his son to a private school, despite the difficult financial costs for him, stressing that he would sacrifice his living requirements in order for his child to get an education. He tells Al Jazeera Net, "The schools affiliated with the Directorate of Education financial support is weak, even teachers salaries are scarce, books are non-existent, and the means of education are very few."

He adds that the costs of studying in private schools are very harsh for any father with several children, and stresses, "I do not want to regret one day because of lack of means, or deprive them of education."

Source : Al Jazeera