The 2010 Communications Law No.18 defines “Information technologies” as “Techniques used to process, generate, transmit, exchange, retrieve, display, preserve and use information, data, signals, symbols, sounds, literature or static or mobile images, by electronic means”. Though it mentions nothing in the context of education.
The 2020-2030 Syria Strategic Plan refers to the terms “e-school, digital content, online interactive education” without defining them.
Constitution and laws: Article 29 of the 2012 Constitution states that Education is a right, free and guaranteed, at all levels and compulsory until the end of basic education and working to extend the level of compulsory education. In the 2017 Draft Constitution, Article 29 included an additional sentence “The State shall encourage scientific and technological inventions, creative skills and talents and protect their results.”
The 2012 Compulsory Education Law No.7 obliges children's parents to enrol their children in basic education schools (from 6-15 years old). It does not mention technology.
The 2013 Decree No. 47 on technical education and educational and technological developments aims to strengthen cultural and scientific ties with universities, institutes and local, Arab and foreign research and technical institutions to disseminate the use of technology policies in education.
Article 1 of the 2010 Communications Law No.18 states that the act aims to regulate, restructure and develop Syria's communications sector and communications services in all its forms, depending on the needs of society and the national economy as well as define the roles of the Ministry of Communications and Technology; the law does not provide information in the context of education.
Article 1 of the 2013 Role of the Ministry of Communication and Technology Law No. 69 details the functions of the Ministry which is mainly to formulate public policies and strategies in the information and communications sector for a knowledge-based society and the digital economy within the framework of the State's public policy, in coordination with the relevant authorities “Enabling the use of information technologies by public and private entities and laying the foundations for developing and ensuring the security of information systems and networks”. The law proposes the establishment of laboratories, institutes, research and development centres in the fields of the Ministry's work and the development of training and education programmes.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2020-2030 Syria Strategic Plan (National Development Program for Post-War Syria) included a list of the key conclusions and objectives reached at the analysis stage of Syria's development situation between 2018 and 2020 and outlined the 2030 vision and objectives based on a knowledge-based diversified economy through sustainable development. The strategic objectives include “the use of ICT to raise competitiveness, effectiveness, and productivity in institutions and for individuals” and “the provision of digital content and online interactive education (electronic school)”.
Digital competency frameworks: No information has been found.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: According to the Country Dashboard of the UNESCO COVID-19 Education Response, school closures took effect from mid-March 2020 then partially opened by September 2020 and fully opened by January 2021. The Ministry of Education in a March 29 statement gave educational institution leaders the go-ahead to activate virtual learning. However, virtual lessons were not mandatory as many students lack access to the internet, computers, and mobile phones.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2010 Electricity Law in Syria aims to provide electricity to meet the needs of society and the national economy and to allow the public, joint and private national, local, Arab and foreign sectors to invest in the fields of generation and distribution. The law also aims to support and encourage the use of renewable energy.
The 2020-2030 Syria Strategic Plan aims to rebuild and renovate the electricity infrastructure in the country including schools. One of the goals is for the “Rehabilitation of affected schools in safe areas to ensure the provision of education infrastructure”.
Computers and devices: The use of computers and devices in education in the Syrian Arab Republic has gained widespread recognition as a valuable educational tool aimed at improving the learning system. Over the years, the Ministry of Education in Syria has been dedicated to updating and fortifying its information infrastructure and computer applications, starting from 2014. A core objective of the Ministry is to elevate the role of technology in the educational process and develop its software to facilitate the seamless transition to digital government. As part of these efforts, schools of excellence in different governorates have been equipped with robotic laboratories, introducing robotics as a new and exciting field of education. Moreover, the Ministry has prioritized the distribution of computer equipment to meet the needs of the educational system, further reinforcing the integration of technology in classrooms and institutions.
Internet connectivity: Article 1 of the 2010 Communications Law No.18 defines “Universal service” as the provision of certain public communications services to all members of society, regardless of their geographical location. Article 3 stipulates that the Ministry of Information and Technology is responsible for developing a comprehensive universal service policy that meets the requirements of economic and social development as well as its deployment and implementation. Article 44 includes “Internet Access” in the scope of universal service.
Article 1 of the 2013 Decree No. 69 affirms the responsibility of the Ministry of Information and Technology in developing a universal service. The Ministry of Communication and Technology aims to participate in building, updating and ensuring the security of technical infrastructure for the provision of electronic services.
The Ministry of Education in Syria has been updating its information infrastructure and computer applications, utilizing the infrastructure of the communications network in Syria to enhance connectivity. The Ministry has also extended optical cable connections for education directorates and subscribed to fast optical data transfer services, providing internet access to education buildings. Additionally, schools have been equipped with local networks, routers, and ADSL portals to ensure connectivity and exchange data through the educational data center.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The Ministry of Education has been promoting distance learning through virtual schools that provide students with interactive electronic resources and e-student services. It has also developed a distance learning team and implemented teacher training programmes. The training includes various levels and covers topics such as distance learning basics and designing electronic content. The document also mentions the use of educational platforms, including educational cartoon films, to support distance education. Additionally, the Ministry of Education has worked to address the educational needs of children who have dropped out of school through the introduction of the category (B) curriculum, which provides learning opportunities for such students in safe areas.
The 2014 Decree No. 34 established a public Syrian Electronic School that uses modern technology and the official Syrian curriculum for students in grades 1-12. In addition to creating an information database that is to be updated frequently, it also offers a digital library, student services, and direct tech support. With the assistance of a team of professors and professionals, the school helps council pupils, register them in grades, conducts evaluations and assessments, and prepares them for certificate exams. The school is headquartered in Damascus, and has financial and administrative independence, with an affiliation with the Ministry of Education.
The educational platforms project was initiated in 2017 with the launch of the Syrian Educational Platform (www.sep.edu.sy), catering to students from the first to the third year of secondary school, containing interactive educational video and audio materials for primary and secondary school students. The platform includes an explicit knowledge base that includes educational curricula and learning sources (Archaeological books, presentations, etc.), as well as scientific conferences, and visual and audio interactive educational discussion through the network (virtual school Webinar). The vision of the platform is to “Towards sustainable participatory human knowledge until 2030” and the mission is to “Knowledge and skill sharing between experts and learners from all segments of society in an attractive and free interactive way in Arabic”.
Additionally, the Syrian educational platform for early childhood education (www.sepal.edu.sy) was introduced - with video lessons and other materials existing prior to COVID-19.
In 2019, the Damascus educational platform (www.dep.edu.sy) was established, focusing on student-centered learning, where students actively participate by preparing and broadcasting lessons, while teachers facilitate their work.
The Youtube channel of the MOE was created in 2018. It includes a repository of online education that supported the provision of classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The e-bag is an integrated website that includes school curricula for all stages and specializations. It is characterized by the way it displays textbooks which makes it easier to browse and facilitate page zooming and printing. The entire curriculum can be uploaded for a stage, or a specific book can be uploaded or browsed directly.
The “Digital School” programme is an electronic platform involving 3,000 lessons based on the modified Syrian curriculum, which the ministry approved. Teachers also used pre-recorded lessons on WhatsApp as a form of alternative learning.
In the e-bag, the curriculum shows that ICT is a compulsory subject from the 5th grade till the 12th grade. As for science and math subjects, they are included at all school levels. The 2022-2023 School Plan demonstrates that there are high schools with a professional mainstream dedicated to industrial and commercial classes that include ICT, digital skills and all STEM subjects (Computer Technologies, electronic technologies, communication, mechatronics, electrical technologies, conditioning and cooling, heating and extensions, models and plumbing, mechanical and electric vehicles, welding and metal forming, mechanical manufacturing mechanical agricultural machinery and equipment, maintenance of medical devices, clothes manufacturing).
The information and communication technology curricula have been developed to encompass various essential axes. Students are taught to invest in computers, learning about hardware and software components, text editing software, images, videos, tables, and databases. Programming and algorithmic thinking are also emphasized, starting from basic logical thinking to advanced programming languages and mobile applications. Additionally, the curricula include learning about communication, socialization, cyber security, and ethics related to the internet and future technologies. Enrichment initiatives have been introduced, such as teaching programming to young kids online and creating specialized curricula for outstanding students with advanced programming languages and technologies. The Ministry aims to enhance access to learning resources through electronic cloud storage, distance learning platforms, YouTube channels for Q&A sessions, and bots on messaging platforms with AI capabilities to assist subscribers.
The services offered by the Syrian Virtual Schools cater to students at various levels, providing them with a range of digital educational resources. Students have access to digital scientific content for academic subjects, delivered through virtual classes, self-learning, and other methods. The platform offers diverse educational lessons and services, including self-learning, private and collective learning, and educational platforms. It also facilitates content management and activities on content management systems, along with electronic tests and evaluation tools. Students can communicate with peers through electronic educational forums and benefit from e-learning resources, knowledge trips via web-quest, and educational profiles within the School Management System.
The platform offers training on modern technology skills within the integrated distance learning environment, with comprehensive guides for students on using the distance learning system effectively. Specialized tools, like virtual laboratories, are available for scientific subjects, and the e-learning is adapted to meet the needs of students with special requirements. The platform ensures that students have access to various resources, such as virtual laboratories, educational games, and video content, to enhance their distance learning experience.
The Ministry of Education is actively promoting STEM education through its educational platforms by preparing and launching an integrated laboratory for 3D virtual reality technology. This initiative involves 750 teachers who are trained to develop curricula using VR and AR technology, ensuring an immersive and interactive learning experience for students. Additionally, the Ministry has allocated 5,000 licenses to students, allowing them to access tutorials and participate in virtual learning meetings.
Furthermore, the Ministry has introduced the "zSpace" 3D workstation, offering students the opportunity to delve into the virtual world and interact with three-dimensional figures in various STEM fields such as science, mathematics, engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and space. This innovative approach enhances students' understanding of scientific concepts and improves their academic achievement. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies like virtual reality and 3D simulations, the Ministry aims to cultivate a strong foundation in STEM disciplines, fostering curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills among students. These initiatives reflect the Ministry's commitment to advancing STEM education and preparing the next generation of skilled professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
At the teacher level, the Syrian Virtual Schools offer a range of valuable services to enhance their educational capabilities. Teachers have access to tools that facilitate the integration of technology into education. They receive training and qualification services on basic e-learning tools and specialized tools according to their subject expertise. Continuous e-learning services are provided to foster professional development and improve teaching skills.
Teachers can engage with their peers through dedicated communities like forums, facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration. The platform also enables communication with students and parents to enhance engagement and support in the learning process. Training services are offered to assist teachers in designing tests, assessing student performance, and effectively communicating with their students.
Additionally, teachers can avail themselves of design thinking training to promote innovative learning approaches. They receive training on formulating educational goals and implementing them effectively. The platform provides education scheduling services, enabling teachers to conduct self-evaluations, create study plans, and set exam dates. Comprehensive guides for using the distance learning system in all its forms are also available, ensuring teachers can maximize their potential within the virtual learning environment.
Teacher training project focuses on enhancing the skills of teachers and educators by providing technical and educational training. It aims to highlight various strategies that enhance student participation in the learning process, including cooperative learning, problem-solving, the flipped classroom, and the effective use of techniques to implement these strategies. Annually, approximately 1,500 trainees from all governorates participate in summer courses lasting for ten training days. Following the summer courses, trainers continue to guide the trainees throughout the academic year, ensuring practical application of the newly acquired skills inside and outside the classroom.
The training plan for technology integration courses includes central training for trainers of Technology Integration in Education, with four sessions lasting three days each and involving 120 trainees. This central training is conducted by the Directorate of Informatics and the Central Coordination for the Integration of Technology in Education.
Moreover, local courses are offered to teachers, educators, and supervisors from the educational field. These courses amount to 24 sessions, each lasting 10 days and totaling 60 training hours. The training is attended by approximately 1,900 trainees.
The Al-Basel Centers for Educational Training on the Computer, under the Informatics Directorate, offer annual 9-month training courses aimed at qualifying teachers, assistant teachers, and educators to become informatics teachers. Since 1991 up to 2022, a total of 8,606 male and female teachers, assistant teachers, and educators have successfully completed these training programs. The courses provide participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively integrate computer and information technology into their teaching methodologies. By equipping educators with the expertise to teach informatics, the Al-Basel Centers play a vital role in enhancing digital literacy and promoting the use of technology in education across the region. The program's long-standing commitment to professional development empowers educators to prepare the next generation of students for a technology-driven world.
2.4.1. Data privacy
Article 1 of the 2012 Network and Cybercrime Law No.17 defines “privacy” as the right to protect one's personal and family secrets, correspondence, reputation, and inviolability of one's home and private property and not to penetrate or disclose them without one's consent. Article (23) stipulates the punishments for those who violate one’s privacy.
The 2020 Information Crime Act No. 20 states that one has the right to protect one's secrets, family, or reputation and activities on the internet.
The education curriculum on information technology encompasses the crucial aspect of cybersecurity. This essential topic is featured as one of the axes of the curriculum, alongside other key subjects such as computer investment, programming, algorithmic thinking, communication, and socialization. The curriculum diligently covers various aspects of cybersecurity, including information security, protective measures, and ethical considerations. By incorporating cybersecurity into the information technology curriculum, Syria is taking a proactive approach to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Article 29 of the 2012 Network and Cybercrime Law No.17 outlines the punishments for propaganda and incitement to commit crimes though it does not explicitly mention online abuse and cyberbullying even in the context of education.
The 2020 Information Crime Law No. 20 aims to combat cybercrime in line with technology development to protect legal interests and regulate freedoms in the virtual world and reduce its misuse. The law re-frames the concept of cybercrime legally to include many shapes and forms of criminal conduct associated with information and technology systems that include privacy violations, vilification, slander, and bullying. However, no information in the context of education has been found.
The National Center for the Development of Educational Curricula in the Ministry of Education is responsible for the online educational platforms to increase knowledge output and develop skills in modern forms of creative development, and facilitate the process of participation of this output among different segments of society.
The Ministry of Education plays a central role in technology integration in education and coordination mechanisms. It has been diligently updating and reinforcing its information infrastructure and computer applications for schools and educational institutions. As the primary institution responsible for technology in education, the Ministry of Education in the Syrian Arab Republic serves as a driving force in fostering a digitally enriched and progressive educational landscape.
No legislation has been found concerning a ban on mobile phones in schools.
This profile was reviewed with the support of the Syrian Arab Republic