December 6, 2016

Scholarships Give Syrian Medical Students Hope

Prior to the eruption of the Syrian crisis in 2011, Syria was known for its extensive and high quality education system. Primary school enrollment rates were at 97% before the conflict began and at 70% for secondary school. However, as the violence in Syria intensified, schools became a target of attacks by the Syrian government and its allies. Today in Syria, schools are among the most dangerous places to be.  Since the beginning of the crisis, more than 4,200 schools have been damaged, destroyed, militarized, or used as shelters, according to UNICEF. This number continues to increase each year. Many students inside Syria have lost hope for pursuing their education.

For medical students at universities in Syria, their dream of finishing medical school seemed like a distant reality. With their education was disrupted after their first year, they faced a difficult dilemma – either stay in Syria and try to finish their education despite frequent interruptions and attacks, or continue their education abroad , an often costly option. Fortunately, thanks to a partnership between SAMS and the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, six of these students have been given the opportunity to continue their education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST) has admitted  these students, who have been selected and screened from a group of high school certified students that have completed between one and two years of medical school. The students come from backgrounds in humanitarian relief inside Syria or in refugee camps.  

Sarajevo Medical StudentsInitially, twelve students from Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey were selected. At least four of these students had finished one year of medical school before their education was disrupted. In order to qualify for the scholarship, the students were required to take tests in English and Science subjects. All of the selected students received high scores on their exams. SSST offered all of the students a scholarship, six were accepted and traveled to Sarajevo late last month where they were greeted warmly by both faculty and students of the medical school. SAMS is proud to help these aspiring students who have overcome great personal challenges to continue their education.

One student (whose name we have omitted for personal reasons) moved to Lebanon in 2012 at the age of 15 after extensive shelling in his hometown of Homs forced his family to flee. After moving to Lebanon, he remained out of school for 18 months and worked as a laborer along with his father for $12 a day to help provide for his family. In 2013, his family moved to Tripoli and he was finally able to return to school, but soon thereafter his mother became sick with appendicitis, cholecystitis and hepatic hydatid cysts. At the same time, his grandfather had a stroke and passed away. This student scored 96% on high school exam.


We are grateful to our colleagues at The Sarajevo School of Science and Technology for sponsoring and hosting these students, and especially to its Rector, Professor Ejup Ganic, who extended the initial invitation.

We  would like to thank our good friend William Stuebner for facilitating this important partnership between SAMS and this prestigious school.

The Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, in collaboration with the University of Buckingham, provides the highest quality of modern competitive education and cutting-edge technology, where these students will be able to continue their education, expand their horizons, and build a bright future for themselves.

This blog post was written by Lara Hakki, SAMS Advocacy Intern