Raqqa: Psychological, military barriers separating students from passing exams

Students taking the Basic Education Certificate and Secondary Certificate Exam, 2022 (Directorate of Education in Raqqa governorate)

Students taking the Basic Education Certificate and Secondary Certificate Exam, 2022 (Directorate of Education in Raqqa governorate)

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Raqqa – Hussam al-Omar

Abdulaleem al-Omar, 40, spent days searching for a public transport vehicle at an affordable price for his children to take them from the northeastern city of Raqqa to the examination center in al-Sabkha town (50 kilometers southeast of Raqqa), but to no avail.

Al-Omar told Enab Baladi that most of the motorists asked for sums that are too high for the residents with low income, but he will have to pay whatever it costs if he does not find an alternative.

Students of basic and secondary education degrees in Raqqa face financial and psychological problems that recur every year because they have to travel to the Syrian regime-held areas to pass their exams.

The students’ families are forced to bear high financial costs, including transportation fees ranging between 25,000 and 30,000 Syrian pounds per student, which are paid every morning to the drivers, according to al-Omar.

The general exam for the basic education certificate for the 2022 session begins on 29 May and ends on 15 June.

Meanwhile, the general examination for the general secondary school certificate for the current session begins on 30 May and ends on 21 June, according to the examination programs published on the website of the regime’s Education Ministry.

Psychological troubles

Psychological troubles are no less than physical troubles for students, as the student is forced to travel early in the morning hours of the exam day in order to be able to reach the exam center in time.

Students told Enab Baladi, who asked not to be named for security reasons, that cases of fainting and vomiting recur every year due to the long travel period despite the short distance.

In addition to the obstacles facing students at security barriers during the movement between the Autonomous Administration areas and the regime-controlled areas.

One of the students, who took the high school exam last year, says that the students, especially those who take the exam independently, are very afraid of being arrested by the Syrian regime forces, despite their possession of documents confirming the postponement of military service and school certificates.

The student, who asked not to be named for security reasons, added that students are being harassed at the checkpoints of the Syrian regime forces, especially the Fourth Division checkpoint, which is stationed on the first contact lines with Autonomous Administration areas.

The students are sometimes forced to pay bribes to regime members to allow them to pass through, he added.

With the withdrawal of the Syrian regime from Raqqa in March 2013, the educational institutions and exam centers have turned out of service, which prompts students to travel to regime-controlled areas if they wish to complete their education.

Raqqa-based activist Fadi al-Hassan believes that the Autonomous Administration and the regime’s Education Ministry can agree on a mechanism through which the regime will be allowed to open exam centers within the “Administration” areas to ease the burden on students.

The application of the Syrian regime’s curriculum in the areas of the Autonomous Administration forces the Kurdish-led body to find solutions that help students complete their studies without exposing them to trouble and risks, he said.

Members of the Education Committee of the Raqqa Civil Council, contacted by Enab Baladi, refused to comment on the exams issue, saying the matter did not concern them as long as the Autonomous Administration has its own curriculum which includes all academic levels, including all education stages.

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