Education System in Syria
The final 3 years of compulsory Syrian education takes place at middle school where a unitary academic curriculum is followed. At the conclusion of this, all students write their national examination. This determines whether they may proceed to general, or to technical (vocational) secondary school - if they wish to continue with non-compulsory education.
The discretionary 3 years at general secondary school are intended to prepare students for tertiary education. Sadly though, there are wide disparities between urban and rural facilities, and the ability of parents to afford school fees too. At the beginning of grade 11 two streams emerge, namely the literary and the scientific branch. National examinations at the end of year 12 determine to which university or college (and in which specialization) students may apply, as they wish.
Young people whose middle school results determine their options accordingly may attend technical school for 3 years. Here young men train in industry and agriculture while their sisters may learn new crafts. They come together in commercial and computer classes though, and so there is hope for gender equality some day. However once in this vocational stream there is unfortunately no opportunity to re-enter the academic program.
Tertiary education likewise is under firm control of the ministry of education, and this includes academic councils, religious bodies, education hospitals and universities. There is some leeway for privately regulated institutions too. Technical education in engineering, medicine and sciences receives greater emphasis than do arts, law or business.
The oldest university in Syria is the University of Damascus established in 1923 following the merger of 2 slightly older institutions. It is currently undergoing rebirth through the implementation of a strategic plan with fine objectives.