DARBASIYAH, Syria — When children enrolled for the 2015-2016 school year in areas of Syrian Kurdistan controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its allies, the new curricula and educational system surprised many residents. The autonomous government in western Syria had in 2014 made the decision to teach the Kurdish language in schools. Thus Kurdish was added to the curricula for grades one through three, and Kurdish was designated a language of instruction in the other grades. It is an unprecedented step, as under Baath Party rule, Kurdish had been banned in Syrian schools since 1963. Teaching Kurdish was forbidden, and anyone caught teaching it faced arrest.
The decision to adopt Kurdish in schools was rejected by some residents, including Kurds. Those opposing it consider the measure a partisan effort that is not beneficial in the educational system and claim it could lead to a drop in attendance.