As millions of schoolchildren around the world head back to the classroom, Syrian children face the additional challenges that come with living in a war zone: daily violence, fear, and an awful sense of uncertainty. In a move typical of Bashar al-Assad's regime, which has attempted to project a sense of normalcy even as the country descends into civil war, the government ordered schools to reopen on Sunday, Sept. 16. UNICEF has long emphasized the importance of sending children to school even during wartime, but for the thousands of refugees that have taken shelter in more than 800 unoccupied schools over the summer, this will be extraordinarily difficult. With few books or supplies, bombarded school buildings, and basic necessities in question, the 2012 school year in Syria will be unlike any in recent memory. Here's a look at how Syrian schools have weathered the long and bloody conflict.
Marixie Mercado, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, told reporters in Geneva that going to school is a "hugely important way of enabling children who have gone through a nightmare to see that they do have a future." Here, Syrian students are shown attending classes at an improvised school on Sept. 17.