IN the Syrian city of Raqqa, children wear hats, scarves and coats to guard against the winter cold as they struggle to catch up on years of local learning in a classroom with no doors or glazed windows.

More than a year since the United States and its allies defeated Islamic State at Raqqa, many of the city's schools still look the battlefield with buildings left lying in rubble and playgrounds dotted with wrecked cars.

''When the crisis started, we stopped studying, the schools closed. Now we've comeback to study and we need help. Fix the windows, doors, we're dying of cold,'' said 12-year-old Abdullah al Hilal at Uqba bin Nafie school.Islamic State

Islamic State which turned Raqqa into the Syrian headquarters of its self-declared ''caliphate'', kept schools shut as it tried to impose the ultra-radical vision.

Since IS's defeat there in October 2017, 44 schools have reopened with 45,000 children enrolled, said Ali al-Shannan, the head of education council set up by civilian authorities in Raqqa.

The children have lost out on five years of schooling. ''Very Basic'' aid had allowed for some renovation work, covering only 10 percent of needs, Shannan told Reuters.

''The schools generally have no doors, no windows, in addition to the sanitation systems that are in a deplorable state,'' he said.

At Uqba bin Nafie school, one classroom looks out onto a wrecked building g, its floors collapsed on top of each other and a car flipped on its side nearby.

In the yard, children stand around large pools of dirty water while others eat snacks by the crumpled wreckage of another vehicle. [Agencies]

The sadness continues, in serving this latest Operational Research on Syria and Schools and Students.


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