A group of Syrian primary school teachers from the capital Damascus, and Deirzzor, 500 km northeast of the capital, have undergone a four-week intensive English language training course organised by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the British Council.
The training is being held at a time when the education ministry is placing more importance on Syrians being able to speak English for better job opportunities.
"The Ministry of Education issued a decision stipulating that teaching English for primary school level has become an integral part of the curriculum," Amir Ramzan, a senior teacher at the British Council, told IRIN in Damascus.
"There is commitment from the ministry to improve the quality of primary school teaching," he said.
The ministry is placing emphasis on the English language, pointing out that it is an official international language.
"The better trained the teachers, the more impact they will have," Ramzan added.
Experts at the MoE said the course would assist 40 teachers to upgrade their capabilities and enhance their proficiency in employing modern teaching techniques.
The British Council is committed to improve the English Language level in Syria, according to the educational specialist. This is the first time the course has been run in the capital and training is still ongoing in other places.
“We are still half the way through the course in Deirzzor. The course is unique in terms of theory, practice and duration,” Ramzan explained.
Last year, the British Council carried out three courses across the country, in the cities of Aleppo, Homs, and Lattakia, but these courses were shorter in length and not so intensive, according to Ramzan.
“Primary school teachers are sometimes offered training by other organisations, but the course is often short, a week maximum,” he said.
The project is funded by international oil company Shell and is located in Deirzzor, whereas its headquarters are situated in the capital Damascus. It has underwritten the training course as part of its corporate social responsibility programme, contributing to Syrian development.
The oil company is also sponsoring an educational campaign in Deirzzor teaching children road safety.
Ramzan said he hoped that funding would continue for these kinds of courses, in order for the British Council to continue improving the level of teaching.
“We hope we will have another one of these courses in the winter to help teachers who have not received a lot of training in the past,” he concluded.