The Syrian government has ramped up its efforts to teach the Russian language to secondary school students, nearly a year after Moscow started airstrikes on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

 

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In an interview Tuesday with Sputnik News, Syria’s education minister touted the increased number of students studying the language in the country’s schools since the implementation of a plan in 2014 to offer Russian courses.

 

Hawzan al-Waz told the Russian government-owned news network that Syrian students have demonstrated a “strong desire to learn the language,” prompting his ministry to expand the scope of its Russian curriculum.

 

He explained that Russian courses were first offered on an “experimental basis” to 7th grade students for the 2014-2015 school year, after which the Education Ministry began offering classes the following year to eighth grade students.

 

According to Waz, the number of students studying Russian in Syrian schools rose from 2500 to slightly over 7500 for the current year, while the amount of schools offering the courses has nearly doubled to 105.

 

Syria’s education minister told Sputnik that he hopes that the Russian instruction program will progress to the point where third grade students will begin learning the language.

 

Waz also said that current teachers included Syrian nationals who earned advanced degrees in Russian literature or certificates in teaching the language as well as women hailing from Russia who have obtained Syrian citizenship.