In conjunction with the Syrian Ismaili Institutions and the British Council, the IIS’ Department of Graduate Studies offers the Syrian Preparatory Programme (SyPP) in Damascus, Syria. Its purpose is to foster intellectual development and leadership skills in its students.

With a variety of backgrounds and interests, eleven of the 2007 SyPP graduates are the recipients of national or international scholarships; others are beginning or returning to careers in Syria. Reema Istanbouli, Ghena Othman, Maha Yaziji, Jaydaa Wardeh and Nibras Al-Dibbiat were awarded IIS scholarships to study the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities at the IIS in London. Samah Haider, Aly Haider and Mohammad Maghout were awarded Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) scholarships for further study in the UK.

Samah will study ‘Information and Communication Technology for Development’ at Manchester University. Mohammad will study Financial Mathematics at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Aly Haider will shortly start his Masters degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Reading.

Ahmad Alkasir received a Karim Rida Said Foundation scholarship to study for a MSc in ‘Water Science, Policy and Management’ at Wolfson College, Oxford University. Ezzaldin Ibrahim is the recipient of a British Chevening Scholarship, funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to study Environmental Management. Darin Hassan has been awarded a Government of Syria scholarship to research a PhD in Pharmacology at Manchester University.

Other SyPP alumni returned to their former jobs with greater confidence, insight and skills. Hussein Abedo and Ahmed al Hamwi returned to work with the Ismaili councils of Salamieh and Damascus. Hussein Abedo is also the SyPP co-ordinator in Damascus. Hussein Aloush has gone back to a lecturing position at Aleppo University; Razan Adra and Ruba Dayoub have returned to teaching English. Ruba is also the part-time secretary of the Tal Dara Ismaili Council. Yasmin Abido has also returned to her former job as a counsellor for school children. Rola Mustapha is working as an intern with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Damascus, and Najwa Majar is now married and living in Birmingham.

Hala Shaheen joined SyPP as part of the management stream. Her account illustrates how the programme contributed to her professional and personal goals. She writes:

I am now working in a new development engineering company in Syria…I am a project manager for a factory building workshop…I am also the head of the construction department for a new villas project in Syria…we have to deal with different stakeholders in our project: the consultant company, the contractors (Arabs and foreign companies), and the suppliers. They depend on me to be the coordinator with foreign companies because of my language skills. So I am using everything we learned at the British Council in terms of management and English skills.

For more information on SyPP and other graduate programmes, please visit the Graduate Studies pages of the website.