Printed Edition ‖ No.: 222
Tarek Abu Ziad – Idlib
With the beginning of testing for basic education diplomas on Sunday May 15th, students of the city of Idlib and its surroundings streamed into the city of Hama, which is under the control of the regime, in order to take the exams. While “Al Nusra front” warned against going to the city, people were scared that they and their children will face harassment after the end of testing.
The Directorate of Education of the interim government published a statement on Saturday, May 21st prohibiting the travel of students and teachers to Hama “because of the danger.” It established that anyone proven to have sent his wife or son or daughter “will be referred to the courts.”
The directorate confirmed that it does not accept any student in its high schools who took the regime tests, preventing them from registering in “the universities and institutions of the revolution.”
The Administration of Public Services in Idlib, which belongs to Al Nusra front, published a statement the day the tests began, warning students within the territories under the control of the opposition against going to territories under the control of the regime to take tests for middle school and high school diplomas.
The statement confirmed that “Diplomas published by the Syrian regime will not be accepted for entrance to highs schools, institutes, or universities in the liberated areas,” pointing out that “Any educational power in the educational institutions, traced to the administration of the regime, that promotes the general tests in the latter regions, will be held accountable.”
The Statement of Warning Came Late
Muhamed Al Husain, from the city of Idlib, spoke to Enab Baladi and expressed that the statement, “came very late, it is too late.” Ninety percent of students that are taking the tests in the regime’s territories left Idlib at least two weeks before the statement.
“There is (no point in) no longer a benefit to preventing remaining students from going,” according to Al Husain, who said, “I don’t think that there is a benefit to holding students responsible after their return from regime territories, because it already happened and it is necessary to take into account the earlier conditions.”
Most of the students traveling to take the test use the road between Idlib and Hama, which is filled with checkpoints, but according to media activist Haj Kadur, from the town of Bensh, they were not subjected to any students.
Haj Kadur said to Enab Baladi that one of his friends went to the city of Hama to sit for the basic education tests (ninth year), adding, “The young man passed eight checkpoints, four of them from the opposition and the same number for the regime, and he was not subjected to any checkpoints, as they facilitate things for students and no one is being subjected to questioning or detention.”
Warnings of Harassment after the Tests
While students and their families live inside Masjids and galleries in the city of Hama, people are scared that they and their children might be subjected to detention by the Syrian regime after the end of the exams. They are scared that the regime could fabricate charges in different cases, and are especially afraid as loyalists are posting threats on social networks, alluding to kidnapping students in retaliation for deaths of those on the regime’s part during battles.
A woman from the city of Hama (she refused to reveal her name for security reasons) said to Enab Baladi that students and their families are currently living inside Masjids and halls until the end of examinations, pointing out that the regime has not imposed anything on any of them until now. She confirmed that a mourning hall belonging to the Eastern Masjid in the neighborhood of Al Barodia currently welcomes students and their families from the suburbs of Idlib.
The woman justified the “easy policy” that the regime offers to students and their families, “as an attempt to win them over and show them that the situation is quiet and good in areas under the regime’s control, as the regime’s institutions are still in control of the situation and it is frequented by people from the regions outside of his control as well.” Yet, she warns of students being held for questioning by the regime after the end of testing under various charges, most prominently about their relatives, and she described the charge as ‘known to all,” and advised students, “not to trust regime members regardless of all the facilities they offer, we are accustomed to their treachery in all things.”
Loyalists published threats on Facebook, hinting at kidnapping students to revenge the lives that were lost during regime battles with the opposition, and some of them demanded imprisoning students in order to swap them with captives of the regime who are in the opposition custody.
About 260,000 students took the basic education exams this year, while 2361 others took middle school examinations, according to the official news agency Sana.
Despite that many insist on staying away from the regime territories and dealing with its institutions, some people see that there is no way around taking the exams inside its regions, as many European and Arab nations, with the exception of Turkey and Qatar, do not recognize diplomas that are printed by the temporary government.