March 28, 2023

Harem, northwest Syria Ward Shreit has returned to high school and might barely include his pleasure. Harem Boys Faculty in rebel-held northwestern Syria reopened its doorways on Sunday, practically three weeks after two devastating earthquakes struck components of Syria and southeast Turkey, killing tens of 1000’s of individuals and affecting the lives of tens of millions of others.

“I am completely happy to be again in school as a result of I get to see my buddies,” Ward, 10, advised Al Jazeera. He says he did not lose any relations within the quake, however one in every of his classmates had died.

“I felt unhappy that he wasn’t in school and that I might by no means see him once more. He was sensible, and we used to play with one another quite a bit,” Ward mentioned.

Ward Shreit, 10 year old student
Ward Shreit, a 10-year-old scholar, is completely happy to be again in school [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

College students returning to high school within the opposition-held northwest territory lately took half in evacuation drills in case of future earthquakes.

Ahmad Sheikh Ahmad, the pinnacle trainer of Harem Boys Faculty, mentioned the tutorial board determined to design and implement these drills for the security of the youngsters and lecturers alike, and on Saturday and Sunday, the college devoted the final two class periods to the drills .

“We taught them that in the event that they hear the sirens ringing, they need to proceed in an orderly and calm option to the college’s playground since it’s a flat space that may accommodate everybody,” Ahmad mentioned.

“In case it was a – God forbid – sturdy earthquake, we taught them the best way to take cowl underneath their desks with their fingers over their heads to guard themselves. If college students aren’t within the school rooms or outdoors as soon as the sirens ring, then they need to undertake the brace place and discover a nook of a wall and keep there.”

Attendance was solely at half capability on Sunday as college students are nonetheless shaken up, the pinnacle trainer mentioned, including that he hoped that the return of college hours would contribute a way of normalcy to college students’ lives.

Students at Harem Boys School adopt the brace position in an evacuation drill designed for future earthquakes
College students at Harem Boys Faculty undertake the brace place in an evacuation drill designed for future earthquakes [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Colleges broken

In line with the ministry of training within the Idlib governorate, about 250 colleges within the area had been broken within the quakes, primarily within the cities of Harem, Salqin, Atarib, Idlib, and al-Mulund. One faculty was fully destroyed, and the vast majority of the colleges – 203 – had been partially broken. The remaining colleges suffered from minor damages.

The ministry additionally mentioned that 39 lecturers and 421 college students had been killed.

Jamila al-Turk, who misplaced two college students from her second-grade class on the Harem Rural Faculty, was shocked on the stage of injury finished to the constructing.

“I went to see my classroom and remembered the scholars and lecturers we misplaced because of the earthquake,” mentioned the 23-year-old trainer.

“This faculty meant quite a bit to me, it was like my second house. I spent most of my time right here and counted the scholars like my very own youngsters.”

Al-Turk says she hopes to proceed giving courses to her college students in a unique place, even when it means taking a 3rd shift at a unique faculty.

“My message to my college students is to prioritize their training it doesn’t matter what, because it’s the trail to a greater life,” she mentioned. “I hope the college will probably be rebuilt quickly.”

Jamila al-Turk taught second grade at the Harem Rural School and lost two students due to the earthquakes
Jamila al-Turk taught second grade on the Harem Rural Faculty and misplaced two college students because of the earthquakes [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Mohammed al-Khatib, the principal on the faculty, mentioned all the college students needed to be transferred to a neighboring one.

“The college had three wings and 14 school rooms general,” he defined. “The principle wing was constructed in the course of the French occupation of Syria in 1928, and has six school rooms and 4 administrative places of work. This was the half that was most broken within the earthquake due to the previous construction.”

The college’s historical past and longevity meant quite a bit to the residents of Harem, who hoped that the unique construction may very well be renovated and never fully demolished. However al-Khatib mentioned demolishing the primary wing was the more than likely prospect, because the infrastructure was badly broken and stays too hazardous to face alone.

“Coming into the college and never seeing college students is like getting into your individual house and never discovering your loved ones there,” he mentioned. It is a very troublesome feeling, not listening to the scholars’ chatter and laughter. It is tragic.”

The college misplaced at the very least six college students and one trainer within the quakes.

“We have now lacking college students that we’ve not been in a position to attain but, so we do not know what their destiny is,” al-Khatib mentioned. “Perhaps they left Harem with their households. Let’s hope that’s the case.

Fadel Abu Bakr, the supervisor of the Harem Academic Advanced that oversees 60,000 college students, mentioned about 10 days of college had been missed.

“We’re monitoring progress and the resumption of classes in different still-standing colleges and tent colleges,” he mentioned.

The vast majority of lecturers and kids had been in good spirits after they visited a number of the colleges.

“The return of scholars to high school lessened the trauma of what individuals skilled within the aftermath of the quakes,” he mentioned. “It was good for them to be again in class surrounded by one another.”

Further reporting by Linah Alsaafin.

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