Rojava’s ‘war of education’: the role of education in building a revolutionary political community in North and East Syria

Elise Boyle Espinosa* (Corresponding Author), Adam Ronan

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Since the beginning of the Syrian war and Rojava revolution, a new education system has been evolving. Foundational to this education is the ideology of Democratic Nation, which has its roots in the Kurdish political movement from Turkey, and to which radical democracy, women’s liberation and ecology are fundamental. In this article, we explore the makeup of Rojava’s formal education structures, and demonstrate how education has contributed to the creation of a political community whose sense of nationhood stems from the diversity of peoples in the region, united by their shared democratic values, and opposed to the nationalist Syrian regime and broader expansion of ‘capitalist modernity’. We first describe the structure and content of the new education system, and discuss how it has strengthened, and shaped, the political community it engenders. We go on to discuss the implications of its implementation, including the ways in which it both lives up to and contradicts its own ideals, concluding that within the teachings exists the potential for participants to continually reflect and improve. Our analysis of this emancipatory education system contributes to the literature on education and political community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2281-2299
Number of pages20
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number10
Early online date9 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

We are indebted to our many friends across Kurdistan, including the interpreters we worked with and our research participants. Further, we are grateful to Professor Christian Lund (University of Copenhagen) for his supervision of this research, and Dr Rachel Shanks, Professor Pamela Abbott, and Dr Hanifi Barış (University of Aberdeen) for their feedback in the early stages of this article.


  • Rojava
  • Syria
  • education
  • ideology
  • radical democracy
  • nation-building


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