Syria/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

Most of the Country cultural activities are subsidized by the state. The prices of cinema, theater, and museum tickets and public library subscriptions are symbolic and the State promotes book reading by very generous pricing policy and sometimes books are distributed with newspapers for free (the monthly free book distributed by the Syrian Book Agency in cooperation with Al-Baath Daily).

Students of the Faculty of Fine Arts and art community colleges are granted free entry to museums and students of the High Institute for Theatrical Arts, High Institute for Music, and High Institute for Ballet are granted a 50% discount on the prices of the second class tickets to the Opera House.

MOC seeks to establish cultural centers in all urban and rural areas in all governorates and also build internet symposiums in these centers to spread the IT culture.

In addition, the State seeks to eradicate illiteracy and is establishing a directorate for adult literacy and cultural development at MOC, the key organization in charge of fighting illiteracy, alongside the Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL), Ministry of Agriculture, and State Planning Commission, in addition to a number of popular organizations such as General Union for Woman, Revolutionary Youth Union, and other. These organizations seek to implement literacy plans and attach more importance to adult literacy, particularly in areas with high illiteracy rates.

The illiteracy rate in Syria is 14.2% of the population (aged 15 and older) according to CBS figures published in 2007. The figures show that illiteracy is higher amongst females compared to males and is also higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.

Statistics shows that illiteracy rates in Syria dropped from 19% to 14.2% in 2007 and this drop was translated in reality by announcing the governorates of Qunaitra, Swaida and Tartous illiteracy free.

Literacy classes 2003-2007



Origin: Central Bureau for Statistics

According to the same source, illiteracy among the same age group reached 31.5% in 2012.

A number of programs and initiatives had been launched until 2011 by civil associations in cooperation with government institutions to spread culture, particularly amongst children.

A national campaign to promote book trading was launched this year by the Funds for Integrated Rural Development of Syria “FIRDOS" in cooperation with Syrian Commission for Family Affairs SCFA in 2009.

In addition the Children Literature Development Program (Euro-Med Cultural Program) adopted by the
Anna Linda Foundation was launched in cooperation with a number of civil society organizations in order to develop children literature.

This program began in 2007 and in the first two years of its existence in Syria it represented the Social Forum in Damascus, Arabic Language Academy, and RAINBOW Association, and later on the Antiquities Association, ATLAS Publishing House, and Smart Fingers House for Children Books joined in.

The program supported nine children libraries related to the Ministry of Culture, four of them in Damascus and the other five in Homs, Allepo, Hama, Jableh, and Quara. Five reading clubs were established in Damascus, Latakia, Aleppo, Homs, and Jableh, within the frame of reading activities.

Also the program activities included holding a competition “The Syrian Child Book” which aim to the selection of the best author for children, and prepared a research about “the child image in the Syrian book”, and it included also special workshops for the evaluation of “Kids Stories”, technical and training courses for each of the Kids Painters, Kids Authors, and Librarians.

Throughout the past three years UNICEF has continued supporting Syrian children -educationally, culturally, and socially - in their temporary residences inside and outside Syria. Also, the Agha Khan Institution has offered three developmental initiatives to be executed in the temporary residential centers in Damascus. The first initiative “return to school” works on connecting children with schools through providing their needs, while the second one “my veiled story” concentrates on connecting children with books and the third initiative is “adhesion of temporary-residence children with children of hosting communities.”

In 2013, the Syrian Secretariat for Development in collaboration with the governorate of Damascus launched the campaign “Education is My Right” which targets youth school dropouts and students living in shelters. However previous initiatives have not been effective in solving the problem, as UNICEF noted in a report published on 13/12/2013, 2.2 million children inside Syria have been cut off from education compared to half a million Syrian children in refugee camps, most of whom are in their second or third year without schooling.      





Chapter published: 09-05-2016