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Students are denied high school diplomas because of their age in Aleppo countryside

Children return from their schools in al-Bab city in the eastern countryside of Aleppo - 7 March (Enab Baladi)

Children return from their schools in al-Bab city in the eastern countryside of Aleppo - 7 March (Enab Baladi)

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 Abdul Salam Majan- Aleppo countryside

As high school exams, which determine the future of many students, are fast approaching, the education directorates in the northern countryside of Aleppo, which are affiliated to Turkey’s Ministry of National Education, issued a decision to prevent students over the age of 27 from taking the exam and obtaining a high school diploma.

This decision was met with shock and disappointment by the students. After a year of prolonged study and preparation for the exam, Hala Joweid was almost ready to sit for the exam and be a holder of a high school diploma, then to be horribly disappointed by the decision of the Turkish Ministry of National Education issued on 31 May.

The decision says all applicants who are born between  1 January 1993 to January 2003 are eligible for sitting for the high school exam and getting a diploma. And those students who are over that age, they are not allowed to take the exam. Unfortunately, Joweid was born in 1990, which denies the right to take the exam and be a university student.

Education is not bounded by a specific age

“Learning is not limited to a specific age, nor does it stop at a certain age,” according to Joweid’s expression.

Joweid is trying to complete her study after she was forcibly displaced from the southern countryside of Aleppo due to the bombardment and the military operations on the region that was controlled by the opposition factions.

Joweid submitted her identification papers to obtain a high school diploma in Azaz’s directorate of education, and there were no conditions regarding age to take the exam, according to what she said to Enab Baladi.

At that time, she paid a registration fee of 25 Turkish lire ( TL- 3.6 USD).

She also underwent intensive courses throughout the school year, borrowed a sum of money to register at a private institute, and her registration was limited to particular materials to relieve herself of the financial burden.

Joweid’s condition is similar to many high school students’ in the northern countryside of Aleppo, who were prevented by the decision from taking exams. 

Muhammad Battekhahwho got a necessary education certificate, studied at one of the private institutes, and paid a substantial financial cost for that, in preparation for the submission of the high school examwas shocked by the new decision. Battekhah is not allowed to take the exam because of his age.

Objection…  but

Battekhah and Joweid did not stand idly by the decision. Jowied, along with 22 other students, filed an objection to the directorate of education in Azaz. Battekhah also presented an oral complaint to the director of education, who replied that the ban “decreed from Ankara,” making no promises.

Abdul Qader Abu Yousef, the director of the Azaz Media Office, in an interview with Enab Baladi, confirmed that the office addressed the education directorate about the decision, after 22 of the students in the Islamic Sharia high school communicated with him. Still, the response was that the Turkish Ministry of National Education issued the decision.

The Azaz Media Office asked the students to go to the local council and the education directorate. Then they asked them to present a petition containing an objection to the Turkish Ministry of National Education.

The media office has also sent a letter to the local councils and education directorates, in which they called on them to take quick steps to resolve the matter before it is too late.

The requests submitted to the Turkish side increase with the approach of the high school exam in its scientific and literary branches that is scheduled for 4 July.

Enab Baladi contacted Nader Hourani, director of education in the city of Azaz, who confirmed that instructions received by the Turkish Education stipulate that the age of free students who are allowed to have the high school exam, should not exceed 27.

Hourani confirmed that they sent a letter in the name of the education directorate and the local council to the Turkish Education to reconsider the situation of students, who are over the age limit.

Joweid and Battekhah hope that their efforts will not go unheeded just like other residents of the area whose dreams to obtain high school diplomas and become university students have been hampered by war and displacement. They both believe that education will help them build a brighter future for their country. 

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