Students travel hundreds of kilometers to take exams in al-Hasakah
Al-Hasakah – Majd al-Salem
“The worries of teaching children are endless. Education has become a burden for parents in the literal sense of the word,” Muhannad al-Jaloud, 49, told Enab Baladi about the problem families face a few days before their children start their preparatory and secondary school exams.
The difficulties are represented in the distance of the examination centers accredited by the regime from his area in the countryside of the town of al-Yarubiyah in the northeastern province of al-Hasakah.
Al-Jaloud’s daughter is a student in the ninth grade of preparatory school. Her exam center is located in the city of Qamishli within the security square, and since he resides in al-Yarubiyah, his daughter will be forced to travel a distance of about 100 kilometers per day to reach her exam center, which forces him to search for a private means of transportation to secure the way during the exam period.
If he rents a private car on his own, it will cost him about 500,000 Syrian pounds (about $60) for the duration of the exams, which exceeds his financial ability, so he will resort to sharing the costs with his relatives or neighbors, by organizing a common means of transportation for students and sharing the fare.
Partnership in means of transportation between neighbors or relatives is not considered a “merciful” solution, according to what al-Jaloud told Enab Baladi, as each student’s share is about 100,000 Syrian pounds if they decide to rent a van.
He added that transportation fares change from day to day, as drivers control the number of passengers and try to bring as many students as possible without observing safety rules or students’ comfort while heading to what they consider the most important exam during the school years, which is the preparatory certificate.
Khaled Mohammad, 45, a van driver, told Enab Baladi that the fare he earns for transporting students to their examination centers is small when compared to the high costs of maintenance and fuel, which are all calculated in US dollars.
The surrounding prices control the fare for him, especially since his commitment to students may cause him to miss many opportunities, the fares of which are many times what he achieves from the fares of student transportation.
In addition, this type of contract requires a “strict” commitment not to be late for whatever reasons, which makes many taxi owners (vans, taxis) reject the idea of working with high school and middle school students, which the driver considered a justification for the high prices.
Since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of al-Hasakah governorate, it seized all public schools in the most important cities, such as al-Malikiyah, al-Yarubiyah, al-Jawadiyah, al-Qahtaniyya, Rumailan, al-Darbasiya, and Amuda, in addition to hundreds of rural schools.
Since then, the Syrian regime has limited the examination centers to schools located in the security squares of al-Hasakah and Qamishli, forcing thousands of students from the rest of the province’s cities to submit their exams within these “recognized centers only,” regardless of the distance between their place of residence and the examination center.
Hundreds of families from the countryside of the province or from the rest of the cities are now looking for a place for their children, students of the baccalaureate or middle school certificate, to live in Qamishli or al-Hasakah during the exam period, in order to reduce the burdens of transportation, in terms of time and material costs.
Rashid al-Jaloud, 50, tried to find a room to rent for his son, a secondary school student in al-Hasakah city. He was asked for $50 as rent for one month only, according to what he told Enab Baladi, in addition to food expenses and furnishing the room with some necessary furniture.
In the end, al-Jaloud abandoned the idea after one of his relatives residing in Qamishli offered him to host his son during the exam period and relieve him of the burden of searching for a room for rent.
It is one of the solutions that al-Jaloud considers to entail a lot of “embarrassment” and burdens others as a result of the “deteriorating economic situation,” but he was forced to agree, given the lack of alternative options.
According to cases of students monitored by Enab Baladi in al-Hasakah, hosting relatives and friends for students from the countryside and the rest of the cities is one of the solutions that hundreds of families resort to, and it constitutes a kind of social solidarity to overcome this problem that accompanies exams every year.
The governorate is subject to a “dual” educational system, one part belonging to the Syrian regime and the other to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), which imposes its curricula by force, with no official recognition of the certificates it issues, and the difficulty of accessing public schools, which have become few and overcrowded, which has resulted in thousands of students dropping out of education and the spread of high rates of illiteracy.
More difficult for “independent” students
It seems more difficult for “independent” students (those who are not affiliated with a public school but are taking the exam), as their exam centers are limited to the city of al-Hasakah only.
There are students who will travel a distance of about 400 kilometers (back and forth), like the students from the city of al-Malikiyah in the far north-east and from the city of al-Yarubiyah on the Iraqi border, and they travel long distances to reach the exam in the center of the province.
According to independent students who are about to take the secondary school exams interviewed by Enab Baladi, each one of them needs a daily allowance of about 30,000 SYP as a transportation fare only, in addition to the physical effort and exhaustion endured by the student who leaves his house at 6 am in the morning and returns in the evening.
($1=9000 SYP) according to the S-P Today website that covers the trading rate of the Syrian pound to the dollar)
A year ago, the AANES’s Education Commission of al-Hasakah governorate closed several schools for “violating” the authority’s laws there, including three Syriac schools, claiming that they did not obtain the necessary licenses and violated the provisions of the law.
Since 2015, the Autonomous Administration began to introduce new curricula in the Kurdish language to the first elementary grades in the areas under its control, and then it gradually moved to generalize the new curricula to students in different educational stages until it reached the ninth grade.
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