The Impact of Sanctioning Syria on Achieving Education for All/ By Hanaa Mustafa

Achieving Sustainable Development Goals has been one of the most important targets of many governments’ policy makers and humanitarian organizations. Of particular significance is Goal 4 which is to “ensure equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” by 2030. Including the word all means that SDG4 will not be achieved as long as certain peoples are excluded.

Among the people who are implicitly excluded are Syrians who remained inside their country. Syria has been sanctioned by many countries for over eight years. The lists of sanctions are wide and cover restriction on goods, cultural property, airports and aircraft and many other categories (see OFAC and EU sanctions). The consequences of these sanctions have been drastic in many aspects of people’s lives inside Syria including Education.

How have the sanctions affected Syrian people’s education?

Since stopping flights between Syria and the countries imposing sanctions, it has been almost impossible for Syrian educators to participate in international conferences outside the country. Consequently, they have been deprived of exchanging experiences and insights.

Because of stopping the international collaboration with Syrian public universities, the teaching staff and postgraduate students could no longer have access to a lot of research databases.
Moreover, after cutting the diplomatic relations with Syria, a lot of countries closed their cultural centers which used to provide the language tests necessary for university admissions and scholarship applications. What many Syrian students do to take the tests is travel to neighboring countries. However, this journey is very costly and stressful to a lot of students. Not giving Syrian students the chance to take those language tests inside their country contradicts Target 4.B of the SDG 4 which is to “substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries” by 2020 (SDG4education).

Last but not least, the sanctions have been even affecting the virtual learning environment since some online learning platforms have been banned for Syria, such as Coursera.
Sanctioning Syria has been hindering any attempt to achieve social justice in terms of redistribution of opportunities and resources. The questions remain as to whether education policy makers are aware of the sanctions’ effect on Syrians’ education and whether they will take Syria into consideration while reviewing their goals.

Hanaa Mustafa
School of Education- UoL

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