ZALIN, Syria — On International Mother Language Day, February 21, the Olaf Taw Association for the Syriac language celebrated the occasion in the city of Zalin (Qamishli) with a dialogue seminar headed by Olaf Taw’s Jalinos Eissa. Under the slogan “He who loses his language, loses his reason for existence”, the dialogue seminar discussed the long heritage and influential history of the Syriac language, and its relationship with the Arabic language.
Affiliate organizations of the Beth Nahrin National Council, Zalin branch, representatives of the Education Authority of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East Syria, and many interested persons participated in the seminar.
During its 50 years of repressive rule, the Syrian Ba’ath regime has imposed a biased and Arab-nationalist curriculum, denying indigenous components such as the Syriacs the internationally recognized right to teach their minority language and pass on Syriac heritage to future generations. Even though regime leader Bashar Assad’s father Hafez had stated on several public occasions that Syria is in the name of the Syriacs, the Syriac people are only regarded as Arab Christians under the Ba’ath ideology.
Since the 2011 Syrian uprising and the emancipation of the peoples in North and East Syria, the Olaf Taw Foundation is tasked to train teachers and prepare an official Syriac language curriculum to be taught to students in official schools in North and East Syria.
Earlier this week, Olaf Taw announced that it finished the preparation of the Syriac curriculum for secondary schools in the DAA. Shamiram Danho, administrator in the DAA’s Training and Education Committee, explained that, “Since the establishment of the DAA, we have began to organize the educational system in the Region; our main task was to prepare a new educational curriculum.”
“In the 2015-2016 academic year, we prepared the curriculum for primary school students — from the 1st to the 6th grade. In the 2017-2018 academic year, we prepared the curricula for preparatory school students — from the 7th to the 9th grade,” Danho added. Preparations for secondary school curricula have been completed during the 2019-2020 academic year. The Syriac curricula include the histories of all peoples of the region, and besides Syriac have also been prepared in the two other official languages of the DAA, Arabic and Kurdish.