Education in Arab Countries of the Near East: Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon

By Roderic D. Matthews; Matta Akrawi | Go to book overview

Chapter20
ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

EDUCATION in Syria underwent a process of radical change in the years 1943-46. As Syria was under French mandate prior to World War II, the educational system had been gradually shaped after the French model with a twelve-year ladder of general education involving a primary-certificate examination, an examination for the brevet, and examinations for the Baccalauréat, First and Second Parts, the former divided into scientific and literary sections, and the latter into mathematics and philosophy sections. While instruction was in Arabic, French occupied a prominent place in the curriculum. The French adviser to the Ministry of Education wielded decisive influence over the educational decisions of the Ministry. Almost all educational missions were sent to France, and Frenchtrained Syrians held the key positions in administration and teaching.

With the declaration of the independence of Syria in 1941 and the holding of new elections which resulted in a nationalist victory, it was natural that the new Syrian government should wish to pursue a national policy in education, free from French influences, and calculated primarily to develop a Syrian-Arab type of education.

In order to do this, the Syrian government procured the services of the well-known Arab educator, Sati' al-Husri, a man of outstanding ability who, after making a special study of Swiss, French, and Belgian education, had become the most prominent educator in Turkey prior to 1914. After the separation of the Arab provinces from Turkey he joined the short-lived Arab government of the late King Faysal in Syria as its Minister of Education. Upon the fall of this government he accompanied King Faysal to Iraq where he became Director General of Education, laying the main foundation of the Iraqi educational system and continuing to exercise considerable influence on that system until 1936. He left Iraq in 1941 to reside in Lebanon, and since he was of Syrian origin, he was invited by the Syrian government to study its educational system and report on

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