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The Free Teachers and Pupils of Saraqeb was founded to secure free education for primary school children in Saraqeb, Idlib, Syria. Since 2011, Saraqeb has been consistently targeted by the regime due to the citizens’ insistence on demanding equal rights for all. Since the town was liberated in 2012 the regime has carpet-bombed the town, destroying most of the city’s infrastructure, private houses and schools.
Since the Free Teachers and Pupils of Saraqeb was founded in 2013 it has rebuilt 14 schools, collected a staff of professional teachers and provided schooling as well as a respite from the insecurities of daily life to 400 children. Prior to this, almost all of the children had been out of school for three years and many had been working to provide income for their families.
The organisation created the campaign “We learn in order to build our country” that works according to a three-step plan:
1. Getting children back in school, if necessary by compensating the parents for lost income. Most families in Syria today are displaced and the parents unemployed, making child labour a matter of survival. Through this project, we enable impoverished parents to provide their children with an education without risking starvation.
2. Hiring well-educated teachers who took part in the revolution and for this reason lost their jobs. These teachers can lead by example, inspiring their children by their courageous stand against authoritarianism.
3. Spreading the word and encouraging children all over Syria to return to school. Due to the security situation, going to school takes a lot of courage on the part of parents, children and teachers. Yet, as the headmaster of one of the schools called “Maysaloon” makes clear, education is a revolutionary act: “This country needs a lot of reconstruction, but we do not just rebuild streets and buildings, more importantly we reconstruct our children with education. The regime has tried to destroy us with its weapons, killing and destroying. But we have insisted and insist that we should always build with education in order to avoid the emergence of an ignorant generation”.
Syrian Arab Republic