Part One: Great interest in Faculty of Jineology
There are four universities in NE Syria, first was founded in Afrin. These universities have many faculties such as Kurdish Literature, Economics, Engineering and Jineology. The new departments are opened in the universities according to the demands of the students. The universities are ready to welcome students for the academic year 2021-2022
The people living in NE Syria faced many difficulties under the oppression of the Baath regime for years but now they are rebuilding a life by taking part in many areas such as culture, art, communal life, and education. The universities founded in the region are one of the developments during the 10-year revolution process. The first university in the region was founded in Afrin and then Rojava, Kobanê, and El Şerq universities were founded. The number of universities increases according to demands. The universities in NE Syria have a department called “Jineology”, a new department in the world. The universities of NE Syria open new departments every year according to the demands of the students to encourage the students to succeed and the number of students of these universities is increasing day by day. We prepare a three-day article series to give information about the activities of these universities.
The first university was founded in Afrin
Afrin University was founded July 26, 2015, in the Afrin region of NE Syria. It had three departments: Kurdish Literature, Economics, and Electrical Engineering. The university had 160 students in its first year but it was closed down in 2017 when Turkey attacked the city and the Turkish army now uses the building of the university as a military base. The students of the university were transferred to other universities in the region.
Rojava University was founded on November 20, 2016, in Qamishlo city. In the first year, it had two faculties; Agriculture and Kurdish Language and Culture faculties. Then, it opened the Chemical & Petroleum Engineering Faculty in Rimelan. The university made rapid strides in opening new faculties and it opened new faculties; Jineology, Kurdish Language, and Fine Arts faculties. The university opened other faculties such as Communication and Health in accordance with demands. Surely, opening universities during the war caused problems. The university had difficulties finding materials for physics and chemistry laboratories. The university was newly founded and had no curriculum. Academics of the university worked hard to overcome those difficulties; they discussed opening new departments. Faculties of finance, engineering, statistics, and mechanics were opened.
Faculty of Jineology and partnership
Rojava University always stays in touch with other universities. It has made contact with Halabja, Raperin, and Sulaymaniyah universities. The university’s Faculty of Jineology has made more contacts. The faculty arouses interest. Emden/Leer University in Germany signed a partnership with the Faculty of Jineology. The faculty is new around the world so it attracts the attention of many people. Paris University held official talks with the faculty.
Kobanî University founded in 2017
Kobanî University was founded on September 30, 2017. The university had faculties of Kurdish Literature, Biology, Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry in its first year. It is the third university founded in NE Syria. Northern and Eastern Syria Executive Council founded this university because students had difficulties going to Rojava University due to long-distance. The system of the Kobanî University is the same system as Rojava and Afrin universities. The students have to have a high school diploma to study at university.
El-Şerq University founded in Raqqa
Northern and Eastern Syria Executive Council decided to form special coordination carrying out works about the universities in 2020. The universities are directly attributed to the Executive Council. The Coordination of Universities decided to found a university named El-Şerq University in Raqqa.
Its door is open for students in Syria
The students began to enroll in El-Şerq University in August. The university’s academic year 2021-2022 will start in October. In the beginning, the El-Şerq University has three faculties; the Faculty of Arabic Language and Literature, the Faculty of Educational Sciences, and the Faculty of Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. The door of the university is open for all students in Syria.
Part 2: Rohan Mistefa: Students are educated with a perspective respecting democracy, ecology, and women’s freedom
Coordination of NE Syrian Universities Co-chair Rohan Mistefa says the universities in NE Syria are managed with a co-presidency system and the university students are educated with a perspective respecting democracy, ecology, and women’s freedom.
In Northern and Eastern Syrian universities, teachers give importance to students’ thoughts. Rohan Mistefa, the co-chair of the Coordination of NE Syrian Universities, spoke to our news agency about the organization and system of universities in NE Syria. “The opening of the universities was a necessity under war conditions. Autonomous Administration provided the opportunity to open universities. This was a result of the Revolution in Rojava. Many scientists and academics emigrated due to the war and the chaos in Syria. This situation caused a gap for education.”
Afrin University was plundered during the invasion
Noting that the gap was filled in time, Rohan Mistefa said that many students don’t have the opportunity to go and study outside the region, “That’s why we decided to found universities in the region,” Rohan Mistefa said that they aim to create a new generation and society based on the idea of Democratic Nation, freedom and equality. “We didn’t want the universities to remain as institutes focus on only academic achievement. Our aim was to educate the university students to serve their people after graduating from the universities. In accordance with this purpose, our first university was opened in Afrin in 2015. Although Afrin was under siege, the university took an important step in science. But unfortunately; Afrin was invaded in 2018 and all materials of the university were stolen and plundered. In addition, the teachers, students, and administrators of the university went to different places.
New departments will be opened at Rojava University
Rohan Mistefa commented on the increasing number of faculties and institutes meeting the needs of the students. The second university in NE Syria was founded in Qamishlo in 2016. “The university had Agriculture and Kurdish Language and Culture, Chemical & Petroleum Engineering Faculties. Then, the Faculty of Jineology and the Institute of Finance and Management were opened. Our Faculty of Medicine was an academy and it was officially transferred to Rojava University. We also opened the Civil Engineering, Ecology, and Civilization departments and Faculty of Communication and Religious Sciences ((Islam, Yazidism, and Christianity). In the past years, the university opened the Faculty of Law and this year it opened the Faculties of Electronics and Computers.”
Rohan Mistefa told us the Kobanî University was founded in 2017. “The university had faculties of Kurdish Literature, Biology, Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry in its first year. This year, it will open electronics, technical and communication institutes. It also has Kurdish Literature, Arabic Literature departments.”
El-Şerq University’s academic year 2021-2022 will start next month
Rohan Mistefa told us the El-Şerq University was founded in 2021, “Because the majority of the citizens in the liberated areas are Arabs and they needed a university. The university has Arabic Literature, English, and Computer departments for students studying in Arabic. The students begin to enroll in El-Şerq University and the university’s academic year 2021-2022 will start next month.”
Women are active at universities
Rohan Mistefa also commented on the education system of universities, “The systems of universities in NE Syria are very different from other universities.” The universities in NE Syria are managed with a co-presidency system. “Everything about the universities is decided equally. Women are very active at these universities. We formed the Women’s Council at the universities. In addition, there is the University High Council and some students have taken part in this council. The universities have also an organization called “University High Coordination” including co-chairs of faculties, administration, and spokespersons of the universities. Subjects related to faculties, short-term strategies and basic discussions are held by this coordination. The reason why we form these councils is to decide everything about the universities in a democratic, free manner.”
The Autonomous Administration gives certificates to students
At the beginning, the number of students of these universities was about 500-600 but this number is increasing day by day. “The number of female students is more than male students,” Rohan Mistefa said that the Autonomous Administration gives certificates to students in Kobanî and Shehba and Cizre. “We estimate the number of students will be 2,500 this year.
“The universities in NE Syria are different from the universities of the Baath regime”
Rohan Mistefa indicated that the universities in NE Syria are different from the universities of the Baath regime, “The universities in NE Syria are managed with co-presidency system. But the universities of the Baath regime are managed by one person. We give importance to students at universities because the students form universities. Students must have responsibilities at the universities. We want to educate free people. At the regime’s universities, teachers give their lessons and leave. They don’t care about students understand what they say. At the universities of NE Syria, we assess students’ participation in classes. Students and teachers work collectively.”
They want to develop programs offering master’s degrees
Rohan Mistefa talked about the Faculty of Jineology at universities, “The Faculty of Jineology Science is the first in the world. But we don’t have programs offering master’s degrees. We want to develop programs offering master’s degrees to students after their graduation. We have already signed a partnership with universities in other countries and we also want to get in contact with many abroad universities.”
“The door of universities is open for everyone”
Rohan Mistefa talked about the plans of the universities in the upcoming period, “We want to open new departments for students every year. The universities belong to students. The door of universities is open for everyone.”
Part 3: Students: Our future is in our own universities
Most students prefer Rojava University to study in Kurdish and they want to teach what they have learned to next generations, “Our future is in our university.”
Universities in NE Syria educate generations as constructive universities. The students studying at these universities describe these universities differently. After completing a preparatory class at the regime’s university, I want to continue my university education at Rojava University. I wanted to study in the Department of Jineology, and this year, I will graduate from this faculty. The reason why I wanted to study in this department is that I wanted to learn more about it,” says Simav Heyder, one of the students of Rojava University’s Department of Jineology.
“Universities are our future”
Simav Heyder drew attention to difficulties she faced for transferring from an Arab university. “In the beginning, I had difficulties in understanding the concepts. Now, I have comprehensive knowledge because the science of women includes all sciences. I have learned the history, will, and rights of women, who led revolutions in the past and have been leading the revolutions. Students at the university are equal and have rights, they also have a good friendship. All students can study in their own language. Our universities are our future.”
“I have learned a lot in the academic area”
Hevin Ebdo studies fine arts at Rojava University. She has had an interest in painting since her childhood, “However, I didn’t have any opportunity to develop myself in painting. I used to take private lessons to develop myself. When I heard the foundation of Rojava University, I wanted to study fine arts at the university. Studying fine arts was my dream. At university, I have improved my Kurdish and learned a lot in the academic area. I want to teach what I have learned to the next generation after graduating from the university. I am a mother and I will send my children to Rojava University when they grow up.”
“Most people wanted to learn Kurdish”
Canda Erefat, a former student of Rojava University, is an academic in the Faculty of Kurdish Language and Literature at Rojava University. She is one of the first students of Rojava University’s Department of Kurdish Language and Literature in 2016. “The department normally lasts four years but we graduated after studying two years because our society needed teachers. We graduated from the university in 2018. We were several students. After the revolution, most people wanted to learn Kurdish.”
System of Rojava University is different
The Faculty of Kurdish Language and Literature has a basic system and that it creates new things within itself, Canda Erefat said, “We studied in the schools of the regime before studying at Rojava University. In the schools of the regime, we weren’t allowed to go close to the rooms of the school administrators and we couldn’t express what we wanted to say. At Rojava University, we have a good friendship with students. We respect each other. The students learn Kurdish poetry, novel, grammar in the Faculty of Kurdish Language and Literature.”
“Jineology brings change”
Sewsen Remo is an academic in the Faculty of Jineology at Rojava University. She spoke to us about the faculty. “I became one of the first students of the faculty in 2017. When the faculty was opened, I wanted to study Jineology in the faculty because Jineology is important for women. You learn the history of women and everything about women.”