Over 670,000 children have been deprived of education after the Islamic State ordered schools to be closed. Schools will be reopened only after the curriculum is Islamicized, with religion replacing standard subjects.
An estimated 670,000 children in Syria had no access to education after militants of the jihadist outfit "Islamic State" (IS) ordered that schools be closed until a new and Islamic State-approved curriculum was implemented.
"In December there was a decree of the Islamic State ordering the stoppage of education in areas under its control…This is seriously affecting the schooling of an estimated 670,000 children," The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) spokesman Christophe Boulierac told the press.
The Islamic State ordered that schools teach only those texts that were "compliant with religious rules," Boulierac said, adding that teachers in IS-controlled areas of Raqqa, Deir-al-Zor and Aleppo were to undergo training.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says IS intends to eliminate all courses except Islamic religion, as it regards subjects like mathematics, philosophy, and chemistry as "blasphemous."
Around 4.3 million children in Syria are enrolled in school in these areas, the Syrian Education Ministry said. Of these, at least 2.1 million were out of school or not attending classes regularly.
Children killed in attacks
Children were also the target of IS strikes on schools, the UNICEF said. At least 160 pupils died and 343 were wounded in school strikes.
"In addition to lack of school access, attacks on schools, teachers and students are further horrific reminders of the terrible price Syria's children are paying in a crisis approaching its fifth year," Hanaa Singer, UNICEF representative in Syria said in a statement.
More than 8 million Syrian children were affected by the war, according to UN figures. 1.7 million were living as refugees.
mg/sgb (Reuters, AFP)