Daily Video

November 5, 2012

Syrian Kids Must Attend School in Secret

Teachers: Caution, some of the material may be disturbing to your students.

Government forces continue to clash with rebel activists in the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) over territory in Syria’s western areas. Though reliable statistics are hard to come by, one activist group estimates more than 32,000 have been killed in the 19 months since the Syrian civil war began, the vast majority of whom are civilians.

“It’s one of the worst civilian death tolls of any conflict in the world in the last few years,” said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch, an organization monitoring the conflict.

Government forces have been targeting civilian institutions, including many schools, in rebel controlled areas. Six schools in the Syrian town of al-Bab were bombed in the last two months, a time when students were set to return to school.

Many parents worry about the danger of sending their children to school, which has given rise to secret classrooms in the area. Because these schools are not publicly known, parents think they are safer from detection and attack.

However, this still may not be enough protection from government forces, who have begun to use long-range missiles to attack towns from afar.

“It’s not the schools are the target only. It’s anywhere, anyplace. All places here in the city are a target,” warns Abdul Latif, an opposition activist in al-Bab.


“[The Syrian government] is trying to get at FSA units that are embedded inside the population. Where the people are, the FSA tends to be. “But it is also to punish the people, the civilians, for supporting the FSA. The relationship between the FSA units and the people is critical to the success of the rebellion,” Jeffrey White, Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Warm Up Questions

1. Where is Syria? What is going on there?

2. What is a civil war?

3. Have you ever felt in danger coming to school? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think kids want to go to school in the middle of a civil war?

2. Why do you think that the government is targeting schools?

3. After looking at the classrooms in the video, how is your school different from schools in Syria?

Additional Resources

Video Transcript

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