Olaf Taw Association for Syriac Language Co-Chair Jacklin Saliba: Our goal is to introduce full Syriac curriculum in schools following example of Syriac people in Iraq
BETH ZALIN (QAMISHLI), Syria – In the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, the Syriac language is one of the three officially recognized languages. The Zalin-based Olaf Taw Association is the official Syriac organization working towards ensuring a future for the Syriac language in Syria. The Olaf Taw Association was established to create an all-encompassing secular education and language organization free from the oppressive, assimilative, and Arabist ideologies of status-quo regimes of the Middle East. It includes a language institute that prepares textbooks in the Syriac language, trains teachers, gives language lessons, and organizes cultural language activities.
Olaf Taw Association Co-Chair Jacklin Saliba and Olaf Taw teacher Josephin Sawme appeared on “Mamlo Qriho” (ClearTalk), a weekly interview program on Suroyo TV about political and social issues, to give information about the implementation and development of the new Syriac curriculum in the schools of North and East Syria.
The two educators explained that through the work of their Association, school courses are now taught entirely in the Syriac language for the first time in the history of the modern state of Syria. Jacklin Saliba said that the new Syriac curriculum includes subjects such as mathematics, physics, music, chemistry, and social studies. However, there are still shortcomings and difficulties to be overcome in the field of Syriac education, Saliba added. For example, Olaf Taw’s training of new qualified teachers and educational experts must be increased. Her Association is also working hard – in accordance with the possibilities in North and East Syria – to further improve and expand the curriculum.
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Teacher Josephin Sawme said that a delegation of Olaf Taw visited Beth Nohadra (Duhok) and Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to be informed on the situation of the schools of the Suraye (Chaldean- Syriac-Assyrian) people there and to benefit from their long experience – since 1992 – in teaching the Syriac language. Syriac is an acknowledged language in federal Iraq and can be fully taught in areas with a sizable Suraye population.
Sawme conveyed the message to the Syriac people to preserve their endangered language, and to help and cooperate with the Olaf Taw Association to prevent it from disappearing.
On her part, Jacklin Saliba testified to be pleasantly surprised by the progress of the state of education in the Syriac language in Iraq. In contrast to the Syrian Arab Republic where the Syriac schools are private schools, the Syriac schools in Iraq are fully funded by the federal state. In the schools she and the delegation visited in the KRI, the Syriac language was the leading language of instruction in all primary school classes from 1 to 12. In addition, the Suraye children receive education in the two official languages of Iraq, Arabic and Kurdish. Saliba stated that multilingualism is not a problem for the children’s subsequent higher studies.
The Olaf Taw Co-Chair said her association’s goal is to introduce a full Syriac curriculum in schools following the example of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in federal Iraq. She also expressed her hope that the regime in Daramsuq (Damascus) will come to accept the new Syriac curriculum for all further studies in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Below is the full Mamlo Qriho program as screened on Suroyo TV.