Enab Baladi Issue # 83 – Sunday August 22, 2013
“I’ve got a uniform, finally!”
Hiba welcomed her father wearing a huge smile of pride; she managed to obtain what many have failed since the soaring prices made it difficult to pay for school uniforms and stationery, let alone being a displaced in Syria.
Hiba is a displaced 16-year-old girl from Daraya. Hiba, who is in high school, managed after shedding tears, stubborn repeated insistence at her parents who were undergoing real financial suffering to buy a uniform and stationery to go back to school after missing an academic-year.
Hiba’s mother says “I wish I could bring my daughter whatever she wants, but I can’t; her father and I had to think long and hard before sending her back to school.”
Hiba is only one of many students who had to flee their homes and leave their schools; some of them were able to resume their studies while others could not. Schools and required books, stationary …etc. are available in some cities such like Damascus, however not many families were able to secure enough money for that. In addition, several families had to settle in areas where schools were not opened this semester.
In street markets, elementary school uniforms cost 1000 to 4000 Syrian Pounds, while middle and higher school uniforms costs 3500 to 1000 S.P. Moreover, required school books in high school cost about 2500 S.P according to the official pricing, and recently these books became available only through a go-between person who sells them with higher prices.
As for stationery prices, they vary from one area to another due to absence of price censorship and to the changeable exchange rates of the Syrian Pound. However, any of these prices is fourfold higher than two years before, before the crisis.
Hia, 26 years, says “I went to buy stationery for the whole family from Almiskiya (a street shop) in Souk Al Hamidiya so that I would benefit from wholesale offers, yet prices were unbelievable”.
Hia paid 850 S.P. for each of the 20 back bags she bought; 125 for each simple notebook; 25 S.P a pencil; and 100 S.P. for each box of colours of medium quality. As for sketch notebooks, prices varied between 40 to 90 S.P. depending on the size and the quality (bad and medium).
Om Bilal, another displaced mother, did not send her kids to school as the money her husband makes is barely enough for food for the family. They can’t cover the expenses of school, besides, after fleeing their homes, they live in Western Ghouta, and there is not any nearby school to go to.
As the third academic year since the beginning of the crisis, begins in such hard times, families are eager to send their kids back to school to continue their education. However, some of them are still waiting for the crisis to pass; others are waiting for aid which has already reached some, despite that it’s limited, it will support them and their kids to begin the new academic year.