Olaf Taw Association presses forward with Syriac curriculum for North and East Syria schools despite obstacles, Syriac Orthodox Church school council member questioned over obstruction

ZALIN, Syria — The Olaf Taw Association for the Syriac Language issued a statement on Tuesday addressing the refusal of some members of the local Syriac Orthodox Church council to introduce the new Syriac school curriculum for all school grades. The local church council administers the private Syriac schools in Zalin (Qamishli) in North and East Syria. The council’s refusal concerns a 2018 agreement between the two sides to introduce the new Syriac curriculum developed by Olaf Taw in the private Syriac schools and to have education fully in the Syriac language on those schools taught by Olaf Taw trained teachers.

In its statement, Olaf Taw reaffirmed its commitment to the agreement, as it has done in Syriac schools in other cities of North and East Syria. It also stated its determination to ensure access of Syriac Olaf Taw teachers and all teaching materials to all the schools in Zalin which belong to the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people. According to the Associations staff, they have worked continuously to communicate and coordinate with Syriac organizations and schools in Gozarto (Jazira) Region to increase the usage of the Syriac language in teaching.

Olaf Taw has trained qualified teaching staff capable of supporting the instruction of a range of subject matter in Syriac. The teachers of Olaf Taw introduced the new curriculum and teaching methods at the beginning of the current academic year in the majority of schools controlled by the Syriac Orthodox Church’s school council, the Assyrian Church of the East, and others, in accordance with the agreement reached in 2018.

The Olaf Taw Association states that, since its establishment, it has taken it upon itself to develop and teach the Syriac language through practical contemporary learning methods. The new Syriac curriculum replaces the state curriculum of the Ba’ath regime which has ruled the Syrian Arab Republic for 50 years. The Syriac language is an officially recognized language in North and East Syria and the newly developed teaching method and curriculum in Syriac should contribute to the recognition of the Syriac language as an official language in all schools throughout all of Syria. The Syriac language is not recognized as an official language in Syria.

According to Olaf Taw, members of the local Syriac Orthodox Church council in Zalin continues to refuse to implement the 2018 agreement, which at the time was agreed to by all concerned parties.

On Tuesday, the Syriac Security Forces (Sutoro) detained and questioned a member of the council over allegations of obstructing the execution of the 2018 agreement. He was released shortly after questioning.