Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Rewarding Idlibs Brightest Students

An initiative aims to encourage and inspire people to pursue their education.
By Amina al-Yousef
  • Awards are distributed to the winners of the Idlib competition. (Photo: Amina al-Yousef)
    Awards are distributed to the winners of the Idlib competition. (Photo: Amina al-Yousef)

An Idlib awards ceremony has honoured students who had achieved outstanding exam results in maths, physics, chemistry, Arabic and English.

More than 700 male and female students from secondary schools in Idlib participated in a knowledge challenge held under the slogan “Armed with education we shall rebuild [our country].”

One student who took part in the compeititon, Suaad, praised the initiative.

“We worked hard throughout the academic year, and our hard work did not go to waste,” she said.

The challenge was sponsored by a number of charitable organisations including the Shabakit Aman organisation, the Amal Youth organisation and the Namaa organisation, in cooperation with the education bureaus of Kansafra, Jabal al-Zawiya, Kfar Nabel and Khan Shaykhun.

The top prize was 18,000 Syrian Pounds (80 US Dollars), with five runner-up prizes of 5,000 pounds (20 dollars).

According to its sponsors, the initiative aimed at encouraging healthy competition and motivating students.

“The main objective of this event is to push the wheel of education a step further by boosting morale, encouraging students to pursue education, and recognising top achievers,” Ahmad al-Ahmad, coordinator at Shabakit Aman, told Damascus Bureau.

Event organisers also hoped to draw attention to the dangers of youth migration and its ramifications on future local communities.

“One of the purposes of the challenge is to draw the world’s attention to Idlib, which the government describes as a terrorism hub,” said Radwan al-Atrash, a member of the educational bureau in Khan Shaykhun.

“The government claims that education is lacking in the governorate of Idlib, and that our schools operate under the shadow of terror.

“To this we say, look at Idlib’s students, they are busy with their studies inside their classrooms.”

A committee of teachers representing the local cities, towns and villages, supervised the knowledge challenge. The committee set the exam questions, oversaw the tests and marked the papers.

“This challenge is proof that despite the shelling and destruction, we will continue to educate our youth,” said Abdel Nasir al-Zeidan, a member of the supervising committee.

“No matter what happens, a future generation of distinguished individuals will be here to rebuild our country.”

Ahmad Qasum, head of Idlib’s local council, told Damascus Bureau that such initiatives enriched the process of education and boosted student morale.

“We will do our best to rebuild our demolished schools and ensure that this generation is educated,” Qasum said.

Salma, a student who competed in the challenge, said, “I came all the way from the village of Maarat Hurma to take part in this competition so that I could prove that I am committed to my studies.

“Despite the bombings and destruction we are resilient,” she added. “We are a new generation and we will rebuild a new Syria.”

Amina al-Yousef is the pseudonym of a Damascus Bureau contributor who lives in Idlib. The 21 year-old is a law-school graduate and has been displaced along with her family numerous times over the past four years.

This story was produced by Syria Stories (previously Damascus Bureau), IWPR’s news platform for Syrian journalists. 

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