Two years after the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) seized Raqqa and a number of areas in Syria, it successfully asserted itself and its way of thinking on most aspects of city life.
ISIS’s changes encompass the social, educational and cultural institutions. To make these changes, ISIS has at times used coercion and compulsion, and at other times enticed people through its interpretations of Islam.
The educational sector in ISIS territories is considered to have changed the most in comparison with educational curricula in other Syrian neighborhoods. The drastic change is the result of a series of decisions made by ISIS over the past two years, beginning with the creation of a bureau of education called the Diwan of Education; the name, and particularly the use of the word diwan, reflects ISIS’s attempt to redesign education in its captured territories based on its idea of Islam’s heyday.
The first of the diwan’s tasks was to dissolve the educational and administrative cadres in Raqqa’s schools and make them take mandatory courses on sharia. It called on them to repent and “purify their minds” to match its opinions on principles of nationalism, secularism and democracy, which it believes are contrary to Islamic sharia and must be corrected.