Syria's education system struggles to cope with conflict


After months of conflict Syria's education system is in shut down. In Aleppo, Syria's largest city, children spend their days playing in the street as they have no school to go to.

Most schools in the area have been closed since Aleppo became one of the main battlegrounds of the conflict three months ago. Clashes erupt day and night and shelling and explosions are constant.

The local kindergarten is now just a bombed out shell. The newly built school held lessons for just one week before it played host to fierce fighting between rebel fighters and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Bombed by jets and shelled by tanks the school now lies abandoned, its classrooms littered with the debris of war.

Amongst the rubble a discarded photograph records the bright faces of children filling the classroom in happier times.

Outside a local man laments the destruction of the school.

"This school had been bombed by the Assad terrorist gangs. It was a new school in the area, pupils came here for only one week and everything inside is still new as you see," said Hilal al-Hilal.

But despite the devastation wreaked on the formal education system the people of Aleppo have not completely given up on learning.

Many of the city's mosques have now taken the place of schools. In one such mosque a teacher reads from the Quran to a class of boys. Another teacher, who did not want to be identified, explains the rudimentary education that the makeshift school is able to offer its pupils.

"We are here to let the teaching continue, we are, with help from God, learning the Quran, some basic mathematics, Arabic language basics, some social etiquette for daily life like eating politely and speaking politely," said the teacher.

Getting an education is just one of many daily struggles facing these children.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said army shells struck a building next to Aleppo's Dar al-Shifaa hospital on Wednesday (November 21), one of the main rebel medical centres, killing 15 people. Most of the dead were fighters but a doctor and three children also died, it said.

Activists say 38,000 people have been killed in the 20-month uprising which threatens to draw in regional Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim powers.

Hundreds of thousands have fled the country and 2.5 million are displaced, aid groups say.