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A History Briefing Of the Institute

The French Arabic Institute, which is related to the French laical mission in Paris, was established in Damascus 1925 and started its activity in a tenement in Sharaf Avenue in Salihia street.

In 1929, there was an agreement between the Syrian government and the French laical mission in which the Syrian government undertook to offer a 9074 square meter land to enable the French laical mission to build on a school with a capacity of 1000 students approximately.

The base stone was put in 1930 and the French ERLANGER establishment constructed this beautiful building with white stones. Teaching began in this institute when it was completed and inaugurated in November 1932. There were approximately eighty students in that study year.

This building is placed in the heart of the city and it consists of three departments. The main front facade looking to Baghdad Street and is includes four stories and two wings one eastern and the other western; each of them has of three flats. The constructed area is approximately 2680 square meters. The yards and the park are 7000 square meters.

The Institute includes all the teaching stages: Kindergarten – Elementary school - Secondary school – and High school.

  • Eighty teaching halls
  • Auditorium for scientific experiments
  • Laboratory for physical and chemical sciences
  • Laboratory for biology science
  • A library containing more than 400 French and Arabic books
  • Big theater
  • Tow teacher halls
  • About 20 offices for administration
  • Three big yards
  • A playground with special toys for kindergarten
  • Sport rooms and halls


The directorate and teaching staff of the institute:

  • A General Director of the institute
  • An assistant Director for each teaching stage
  • Three secretaries
  • Eight supervisor
  • Librarian
  • Laboratory secretary
  • Approximately 100 teachers for all departments.


§         The institute has been teaching since its foundation both the Arabic and French languages by French and Syrian teachers from kindergarten stage till high school. Due to the scientific reputation this institute has gained since establishment, its student numbers reached approximately 2350 students this year.

§         After nationalization in 1967, there was an agreement in 1969 between the French educational relations and the Syrian ministry of education in which the French educational relations undertook to employ five French teachers to teach together with their Syrian colleagues the French language in all different teaching stages.

§         In 1978, the possession of this institute was transferred to the Syrian Ministry Of Education that preserved the aspect on which this institute was built on.

§         This institute was named as “AL Houriah Institute” in the year 1961,then in the name of martyr “Basel Hafez AL Assad” in the honor of the memory of this martyr who ended his study in this institute and martyred in 21 January 1994.

§         In 1992, this institute was chosen to be a leading center for teaching the French language, and that was after an educational agreement between the Syrian and the French governments.

§         This project was started in November 1992 and is applied by four French experts who are applying the modern methods for teaching the French language and extends this experience to other institutes in Damascus and in all schools in the country. And to qualify the Syrian teachers to be tutorial responsible in the future, capable in their turn to transfer their experience and to qualify future staffs.

§         In addition to that, this project applies lessons in the profound French language with technical and scientific guidelines that give the student at the end of their study the skill to continue their scientific study in French language, and it teaches a special program that enables students wishing to take the examination and get the internationally agreed DELF Certificate.

§         This institute since its foundation has been a leading center for culture and science, and it was able to gather successfully the French and the Arabic education during the passing years.

§         Several students graduated from this institute were leaders in their studies later and now they are occupying highest positions in political, scientific, and economical fields in Syria and abroad.


Directors successively directed this institute since its foundation:


Mr. George Cazenave

From 1/10/1925 to 1//10/1935

Mr. Rene Latrouite

From 1/10/1935 to 1/10/1938

Mr. Lucien Blan

From 1/10/1938 to 1/10/1941

Mr. Pierre Berthelot

From 1/10/1941 to 1/10/1943

Mr. Louis Dupont

From 1/10/1943 to 1/10/1945

Mr. Charles Delepine

From 22/12/1946 to1/10/1952

Mr. Lucien Marie Wattiez

From 1/10/1952 to 1/10/1954

Mr. Vincent Espana

From 1/10/1954 to 1/10/1959

Mr. Jean Pinthon

From 1/10/1959 to 1/10/1960

Mr. Ebrahim Barsa

From 1/10/1960 to 1/9/1967

Mr. Zouhir Ketbi

From 1/9/1967 to 1/9/1968

Mr. Abd AL Aziz Alon

From 1/9/1968 to 17/11/1974

Mr. Mahmod Abd AL Karim

From 17/11/1974 to 24/1/2002

Mr. Bassel Al Manlla

From 25/8/2002 to 22/6/2003

Mr. Hassan Souleiman

From 23/8/2003 to 9/10/2008

Mr. Gayth Ali

From 15/9/2008 to this date

This History is provided by Mrs. Jeannette ACHKAR