Primary education is free in Syria. Schooling is compulsory from ages 6 to 15. Schoolchildren wear a green, military-style uniform. In overcrowded areas, there are two shifts during the school day to accommodate all children. The morning shift usually starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at noon and the afternoon shift usually begins at 1:00 p.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. Classes are held six days a week. Most villages also have their own school. 

Instruction is in Arabic. Studying a second language is compulsory from the age of eight. In the past, French was the language that most children studied, but now most students choose English. Religion is also part of the curriculum.

Secondary education is free at state schools. It lasts for three years, from ages 15 to 18. Syria has both general and technical secondary schools. There are not enough places for all young people, so they must compete for admission by writing an examination called al kafa’a. Secondary students pay a small fee for books and other materials. There are also a few private secondary schools that follow the same curriculum as the state-run schools. At the end of secondary school, students write another examination called al shahada al thanawiya, which is similar to the baccalaureat examination.
  Did you know?
Most young men must do compulsory military service for two and a half years after they turn 18.
Syria has four universities. Students pay a small fee to attend. The two main universities are in Damascus and Aleppo. Two smaller universities are in Latakia and Homs. The universities often have large classes and do not always have the most up-to-date facilities. Students who can afford tuition and who can get a visa go abroad to study. Syria also has several agricultural and technical schools.

Syria’s literacy rate has increased significantly over the last 20 years, and now stands at about 71%. This represents about 86% of men and about 56% of women.