As Turkish schools open for the new school year, the Syriac language is home-bound again

@gazetesabro – Classroom education, which had been suspended since the start of the pandemic in Turkey, resumed on September 6. Although measures are being taken against the spread of the coronavirus – classrooms and canteens are open but students are required to wear face masks at school – there is still unease. Vaccination rates are also low in Turkey.

Where all students started lessons on September 6, Syriac children started the new school year without training in their mother tongue and without their own primary school. While the Syriac Mor Ephrem Kindergarten in Istanbul, opened in 2013, continues to produce ready pupils, there is still no primary school for them to continue their primary education. And it doesn’t seem likely for the time being to open a Syriac school with government support.

In the 1913-1914 school year, there were a total of 2,580 schools of non-Muslim communities in the Ottoman provinces. 29 of these schools belonged to the Syriac people. After the last Syriac school in Mardin closed in 1928, Syriacs were banned from opening a school for about 90 years.

Despite the fact that the right to education of non-Muslim peoples living within the borders of the Turkish Republic was guaranteed by the Treaty of Lausanne, Syriacs were not allowed to open schools and thus were deprived of the right to education – one of the most basic human rights.

Not even a Syriac primary school

As a result of their national struggle, Syriacs were able to open a kindergarten through a court decision in 2013. However, pupils leaving this kindergarten still do not have a primary school where they can continue their primary education. There is no legal barrier to school, there are however economic and physical obstacles.

All attempts so far have failed

The Federation of Syriac Associations in Turkey (SÜDEF) has submitted a formal application to the Ministry of National Education for the opening of such a Syriac primary school. However, the Ministry of National Education has so far neither authorized nor taken any action for the opening of a school. Several other initiatives by the Syriac community have so far also been inconclusive.

For this reason, the Syriac language can again only be taught to children by family members, and only at home. Syriacs must transfer their endangered language to new generations on their own. The Syriac language has once again been sentenced at home in the new school year.